“It is our duty to remind everyone that Europe is not a purely geographic complex, nor just a group of peoples, but it is a spiritual and ethical work; it is not an organogram, but a living body, a community of life and destiny. The European image of person is determined in the most profound manner by Christianity.” It is with this thought that Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), opened the works of CCEE Plenary Assembly, the ecclesial body which gathers the Presidents of all Bishops’ Conferences of the Continent. For this assembly, Malta is represented by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, President of the Maltese Episcopal Conference.
In the opening session H.E. Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Vasily Zharko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, Andrei Shorets, Mayor of Minsk, H.E. Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavl and Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus and H.E. Mgr. Gábor Pintér, Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus.
The latter has read the message signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that Pope Francis has sent to the participants in which he “… encourages them to continue the important work aimed to at identifying paths of pastoral collaboration between the various countries, appreciating the differences and promoting initiatives of solidarity and fraternity. His Holiness hopes that the meeting may contribute to strengthening the bonds of unity and communion between the European Bishops, imparting a further and courageous impetus to the church’s mission in Europe especially on behalf of young people to help them to discover, in the light of faith, their own vocation in the Christian community and in society.”
Pastors Vladimir Tatarnikov (Lutheran), Rabbi Grigori Abramovich and mufti Abu-Bekir Shabanovich participated also at the opening of the work, witnessing the good dialogue between the various religious communities in the country.
The work was then followed by a presentation by the Catholic Church in Belarus and a presentation of some charitable works by representatives of the local Church.
In the morning a representation of the plenary participants met with the President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The work of the day ended with the Eucharistic celebration celebrated in the Church of Saints Simone and Elena.