EU bishops focus on poverty, religious freedom, nuclear disarmament

The fight against poverty was the main theme of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of COMECE, which was held from 14 to 16 April in Brussels. They said in a statement today:

"The EU has chosen to dedicate 2010 to the 'European Year against poverty and social exclusion'. A major theme for the Church is that, through her numerous organisations, it is one of the most important actors in the fight against poverty in Europe. The Bishops have suggested to the EU decision-makers that they broaden the current tools used to measure poverty in order to include not only material criteria, but also the relational dimension.

"Poverty, which has already been faced by too many citizens in Europe, is further being aggravated by the world economic crisis. Yet the politicians have not succeeded in addressing the problem at its roots so that future crises do not arise. It is the issue of the origins of the crisis that the Bishops wish to highlight as well as to prompt a reflection. It is indeed a moral crisis that we face, which is marked by excesses and a confusion of values The key is thus to restore a balance between individual interests and the interests of all - ie the Common Good - as well as a better conciliation between what is legal and allowed, on the one hand, and justice, on the other hand. It is only through this fundamental balancing that our present crisis will result in "salutary change".

"On this issue, as well as on other issues, the proposals elaborated by the Church will be better related to requests made by the European decision-makers in the framework of the "open, transparent and regular'" dialogue between the EU and the Churches that has recently entered into force with Article 17 of the Treaty. During their Plenary Assembly, the Bishops reflected on the practical implementation of this Dialogue.

"Religious freedom in the world figures among the concrete topics that the Bishops of COMECE would like to address in the framework of this Dialogue. The Bishops received a report by the COMECE Secretariat entitled "Religious freedom, Pillar of the Human Rights Policy in the external relations of the European Union". This Report reminds us of the origins of the right to religious freedom, mentions the violations of this right throughout the world and proposes a series of recommendations for the attention of European decision-makers in order to promote this basic right. The Report will be circulated to the Members of the European Parliament, and to Baroness Ashton, the High Representative for EU External Affairs."

The Bishops  also received the report of the group of experts set up by COMECE on the revision of the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, which will be held in May. This document makes a series of proposals to the negotiators of the EU, notably to promote nuclear disarmament on the principles of transparency, verification and irreversibility, but also to include more of civil society in this fundamental debate for the future of Mankind. The report will be transmitted to the EU Institutions, and specifically to Baroness Ashton.

Source: COMECE


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