By Francesca Merlo
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) is celebrating 40 years since its foundation this year.
Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto, the Secretary General, describes these 4 decades of COMECE as “very positive”. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Fr Felipe Herrera, he explains that he believes “COMECE has managed to be “faithful to its mission” as it was established 40 years ago, even though maybe “some things could have been done better” and others “differently”.
Fr Barrios explains that COMECE was created 40 years ago as an Institution in Brussels with the aim of “making the Catholic Church present in Europe”, whilst maintaining a dialogue with the European Institutions and the Catholic Church in Europe.
Over the last 40 years, says Fr Barrios, COMECE has brought the “sensibilities of the Church”, its preoccupations, its main issues and “the voice of the poor” to light.
At the same time, COMECE has also been “keeping in touch with the Bishops' Conferences of the different countries of the European Union and informing them of what is being done in the European institutions”.
What we must remember, says Fr Barrios, is that “challenges for COMECE are also challenges for Europe, and vice versa”. One of these challenges is what Fr Barrios describes as the “ecological transition: the idea of having a carbon neutral continent, of keeping, maintaining and being careful with our common home”.
Another issue, he continues, is “related to migration and refugees”, and this is an important issue for the Church because “the Church has a main mission, which is to preach and safeguard the dignity of the human person.”
All these issues concerning Europe, concludes Fr Manuel Barrios, are very important and are going to be followed very closely by COMECE in the coming years.