Thursday, February 08, 2024

EU bishops discuss rise of far-right at synod meeting

Bishop Bätzing's very bad year

High-ranking members of six European bishops’ conferences met in Limburg in Germany from 30 January to 1 February to discuss synodality, but also addressed social cohesion and politics.

Although the official subject of the meeting was their dioceses’ and countries’ experience of the Synod on Synodality, their statement also discussed the rapid growth of far-right extremism on the continent.

“Precisely with a view to the EU elections in June, the bishops were in full agreement that the Church must continue to commit itself as hard as it could for a multifaceted and value-based society,” said the final statement from the bishops, who represented the conferences of France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria.

They emphasised that the heritage of the European Union’s founders and the canon of values based on the Christian concept of humanity were the prerequisites for peaceful coexistence in Europe.

The bishops’ main focus in Limburg was the situation of the discussions on synodality as part of the worldwide process set out in the final document of the Synod in Rome last October.

“It was particularly informative to hear from one another how discussions on the question of the future of the Church were proceeding in the local regional churches,” the statement said.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, whom the Pope appointed relator-general of the 2023 Synod meeting and made co-responsible for the preparation and implementation of the universal synod, encouraged the conference presidents to take an active part in the synodal process and to report details of their experiences in the regional discussions ahead of the second Rome session this October.  

He said there was an urgent need for this sort of “networking”, as well as theological debate on the term synodality.

The Limburg meeting followed a similar meeting in Prague in 2023 but was extended to include further bishops’ conferences. The next will be held in Paris in January 2025.