September 24, 2015
‘Mass for Europe’: this traditional Catholic ceremony kicks off a new ‘school year’ for EU institutions, and I attended it for the first time. Mainly EU officials participate, plus a few dignitaries like MEPs and the Luxembourg royals (current EU presidency).And of course bishops, priests, and the organising staff of COMECE (Commision des Conferences d’Eveques des Communautés Européennes)
It is relevant to report what was said, even if I did not go as representative of a media (the one I set-up is clearly not confessional). Indeed, the Church cannot be used as a pretext for turning away (notably Muslim) refugees or migrants. On the contrary, as you can read below, taken from a COMECE press release. At the same time, Archbishop Hollerich of Luxembourg did not hide the challenges: ‘I do not speak of an ideology of reception blind to the real problems, to the inculturation and coexistence problems’.
Food for thought. And also for action? see for example link below to Fondation Josefa.
“Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, member Bishop of COMECE and Archbishop of Luxembourg, the Member State currently holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, was invited to deliver the homily during the Mass for Europe, celebrated in Brussels on 23 September.
At the very moment when an extraordinary European Council was being held in Brussels on the refugee crisis, Archbishop Hollerich urged Christians to show openness and hospitality: “When so many refugees knock on the doors of our countries, how could we dare not to meet this challenge. It is the Holy Spirit who impels us to open our hearts to the misery of others. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to welcome our brothers and sisters from countries where war and persecution prevail.”
He recalled that this spirit of inclusion should not be based on passing emotions, but be rooted in the fundamental values of the soul of Europe, “I do not mean the easy emotions that grip us when we see the photograph of a young child who died. I do not speak of an ideology of reception blind to the real problems, to the inculturation and coexistence problems”. Nevertheless, “the problems and complexity of situations must not lead to the disappearance of Europe’s soul as the values that have become dear to us are forgotten.”
He reminded Christians of their duty to provide for refugees, regardless of their religious allegiance: “We would be a strange kind of Christians if we would only reach out to those who share our faith. The Christian identity of Europe is definitely in danger if we do not follow the values of the Gospel”.
Archbishop Hollerich sees this crisis as an opportunity for Europe: “Europe might be renewed if it dares to share. Its citizens might love Europe better, if it dares to build a foreign policy with a clear and strong commitment to peace, a peace based on justice. (…) We now have the chance to create a new European identity based on the values that we hold dear. We should listen to the Spirit at work in this age and seize our chance.”
He ended his homily by thanking all politicians in the European Union who engaged in recent weeks for the dignity of those who knock on our doors.
The collection was made for the Josefa Foundation, whose mission is to welcome, accommodate and accompany persons made vulnerable by migration.
The Mass for Europe is organised by the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) in partnership with the Diocese of Malines-Brussels and the member Bishop of COMECE of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, on the occasion of the resumption of work by the European institutions each year in September.