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A woman wearing a facemask lights a candle inside a church in Barcelona, Spain A woman wearing a facemask lights a candle inside a church in Barcelona, Spain 

COMECE: May dialogue with the Churches always be maintained

Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, Secretary General of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, intervenes on the Document "Staying safe from Covid-19 during the winter", reiterating the need to enter into discussion with the Church on issues that pertain to it.

By Vatican News staff writer

Though the strategy put forward by the European Commission “Staying safe from Covid-19 during the winter” is a “good document, with good recommendations”, Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto stresses the desire that all of COMECE has that “when orientations are given that have to do with the life of the Church and with liturgical celebrations or ceremonies, that these recommendations are put forward in dialogue with the Churches”. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Benedetta Capelli, the Secretary General of COMECE stresses that a consistent, “open and transparent dialogue between the institutions and the Church has to be respected”.

Listen to the interview with Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto

In a statement released on Friday, the Bishops of the European Union expressed their concern over certain parts of the European Commission’s strategy, such as the part in which it highlights the importance of "avoiding large services or using online, TV or radio broadcast, in case of ceremonies, […] and banning of communal singing.”


Dialogue, continues Fr Barrios Prieto, “is what is fundamental”. Although we must respect the health laws in order to help fight the spread of the virus, “we also have to try to not go against fundamental rights and the rights to freedom of religion”. The two things must be kept together, he says. “This is a difficult balance to find and it should be done in dialogue with the Church and religious associations”, especially, he adds, as it is a dialogue musch discussed in the treaties of the European Union.

Finally, Fr Barrios Prieto discusses the impact that the pandemic has had on poverty and those most marginalised in society. "Fraternity and solidarity are the dreams of the Pope for Europe", he says, adding that this is a "very nice message for Europe". He noted that Cardinal Pietro Parolin spoke on behalf of the Pope during COMECE's General Assembly, expressing his desire, on top of fraternity, solidarity and opennes, for a secular Europe. Fr Barrios Prieto notes that these dreams are "a mission" towards which to move "with the effort of all". We have to work together, concludes Fr Barrios Prieto, "and these dreams of Pope's give us direction". 

18 December 2020, 16:21