13 October 2006, 13:18
New CCEE president points to rapid development of Catholic Church in Russia
Moscow, October 13, Interfax - Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences in Europe (CCEE), pointed to some cardinal changes in religious life in Russia.
In his interview to Svet Evangelia, a Catholic newspaper in Russia, he said that along with a discussion (at the recent CCEE assembly in St. Petersburg - IF) on problems very important for all Europe, some Western bishops discovered a new reality. It is the rapidly developing Catholic Church in Russia, overcrowded churches, a living faith and sincere devotion.
Last week, a plenary assembly of presidents of European Episcopal Conferences took place in St. Petersburg. The forum, which was the first to be held in Russia, was attended by 34 ministers from 22 European countries, who summed up the recent developments and outlined further thrusts in the work of the CCEE.
Commenting on the problems discussed, Cardinal Erdo said that the participants had to state with bitterness the general and rather deep crisis of the institution of family in Europe, the tendency to marginalize the right to freedom of religion by giving an ungrounded and therefore distorted interpretation of the notion of equality.
He stressed that attempts to secure legally the principle of equality in all areas of life leads to an equality of norm and deviation, virtue and sin, the sacral and the profane. As a result the fundamental human rights including religious rights are violated.
Christians, he said, cannot let this principle of equality violate the church canons and the actions of the Ecumenical Councils when in the name of equality a priest may be appointed not by a bishop but secular authorities and the holy mass may be celebrated by anyone who fancies doing it.
At the same time, the CCEE president remarked that he was looking into the future with optimism and this optimism was prompted first of all by the opportunity for common Christian witness in Europe.
‘Christians in Europe can and must be united in defending the values of the gospel. Therefore, we, participants in the assembly, were very much gratified by the call to common witness in the message of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia’, Cardinal Erdo added.