By Devin Watkins
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) represents the Catholic Church and her concerns to EU policymakers.
Father Manuel Barrios, whose 4-year mandate began on September 1st, laid out several of those important issues in an interview with Vatican Radio.
“One of the main challenges is that human dignity – the dignity of every person – is respected and promoted,” said Fr Barrios.
Pope Francis always brings up this topic in his speeches, he said, so COMECE strives to “promote the dignity of every human person.”
Fr Barrios said other important issues – like migration, ecology, and youth unemployment – are related to human dignity.
Migration is a hot-button topic in the European Union, and Fr Barrios says the Church’s defense of human dignity extends “to those persons who are coming to our borders asking for help.”
He said EU Bishops are seeking to put into practice Pope Francis’ call “to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” migrants.
The World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on September 29th, with the theme “It is not just about migrants.”
Fr Barrios said part of the Catholic Church’ mission is to promote the dignity of every human person, as European leaders make policy decisions regarding the migration crisis.
The Church, he said, voices her support for “the need to receive with generosity and to be able to integrate and give a future” to migrants and refugees.
New narrative of hope
Asked about divisions in Europe, Fr Barrios said the project of a united Europe is “still valid and followed by a lot of people.”
The Catholic Church, he said, is committed to “trying to help the European project and helping EU institutions go forward in this.”
“I think there is hope,” said Fr Barrios, “but maybe we need a new narrative of hope”.