Bratislava, 7 March (TK KBS) More than 150 delegates of bishops' conferences from all over Europe will meet in Bratislava from 17 to 20 March 2022. They will come for the third European Catholic Social Days. We talk about the event with the Executive Secretary of the Slovak Bishops' Conference, Ivan Ružička, who is coordinating the preparations.
- What are the European Catholic Social Days?
The Third European Catholic Social Days (CSD), which will take place from 17 to 20 March 2022 in Bratislava, is an event organised jointly by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), the Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and the Slovak Bishops' Conference (KBS).
It is an event which aims to present the social teaching of the Church in the current context of the countries of Europe and thus to enrich reflections and aspirations about European society, which, even historically, are rooted in peace efforts. In the Christian understanding, strong economic, political or scientific and technological cooperation is not enough for the strength of the cohesion of our countries.
The Church also considers the development of the spirit, of social feeling, of selfless consideration and of helping one's neighbour to be important. It also sees this contribution to the renewal of Europe as a way in which it can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the European continent in a language that is 'intelligible'.
- Who and when decided that the event will be held in Bratislava?
The venue for the 3rd European CSD was discussed at CCEE and COMECE level back in 2020. Due to the pandemic situation, the event had to be postponed. Bratislava, due to its location as well as the previous cooperation with the General Secretariat of the CCEE and the local structures, seemed to be a suitable place and partner for mutual cooperation.
- It is possible to present the main theme of the event itself.
The title of the event is: "Europe beyond the pandemic: a new beginning". (Europe beyond the pandemic: a new beginning)
The COVID-19 pandemic and its terrible consequences have not only shaken the apparent certainties of our political, economic and social systems, but have also exposed our vulnerabilities. All this at a time already marked by technological innovation, environmental injustice and demographic imbalance. Instability and social divisions will be exacerbated in the aftermath of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
I believe that the topics discussed will be a constructive dialogue between all those involved and will bring proposals for concrete action for a better future for Europe.
- What is the aim of this event, how will it be organized and is it open to the public?
Starting from the current social issues affecting European society, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as of the disturbed peace, we want to analyse those issues that are fundamental for a just social, economic and political recovery, in cooperation with European nations and governments.
We will update the programme and the proceedings of the event on the website https://www.catholicsocialdays.eu
Three plenary discussions with European politicians, academics and church representatives will be followed by workshops aimed at facilitating open and frank dialogue. The working languages of the session are Slovak, English and Italian with interpretation.
In view of the still ongoing anti-pandemic measures, the event is being organised in a so-called hybrid form.
The first group of participants will consist of delegates from all European countries who will meet in person in Bratislava. The second group will be invited guests who will be able to follow the event online and actively participate in the discussions and reflections. The third group, which is open to the general public, can be formed by all those who will follow TESD via social media.
- What does this event mean for the Church in Slovakia and our country?
The value of an event like the European Catholic Social Days for our country is that it broadens our perspective and makes us aware of the importance of the Church in Slovakia being part of the dialogue on issues of public life and politics. Particularly in the current war situation in Ukraine, which particularly affects us, the Church in Slovakia has a place and a role to play in building a more humane society but also a more just world.
The Holy Father Francis expressed this mission in an important image during his visit to our homeland in September: "Your mountains unite in a single range the peaks and the diverse scenery and go beyond the borders of the country to unite in beauty the different peoples. Develop this beauty, the beauty of the whole. It takes patience, it takes effort, it takes courage and sharing, it takes drive and creativity. But it is a human work that heaven blesses." ( Address by the Holy Father Francis in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, 13th September, 2021)