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Bratislava will welcome guests at the European Catholic Social Days
P:3, 11. 03. 2022 12:06,

Bratislava, March 11 (TK KBS) Europe beyond the pandemic: a new beginning - is the theme of the 3rd edition of the European Social Days, which will take place from 17 to 22 March 2022 in Bratislava. 

The event is organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE)) and the Slovak Bishops' Conference (KBS), in collaboration with the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Slovakia will welcome its Interim Prefect, Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, President of COMECE, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich and the President of the CCEE, Mons. Gintaras Grušas, Archbishop of Vilnius, among others. The event will take place in a so-called hybrid form. More than 150 delegates of bishops' conferences (bishops, priests and laity) from Europe will come in person to Bratislava, while the rest will be able to follow the event online. The working languages of the meeting are Slovak, English and Italian, with interpretation.

The program and proceedings can be found on the website www.catholicsocialdays.eu, which is available in Slovak and English. 

The event will start on Thursday 17 March. At the Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bratislava, Msgr. Stanislav Zvolenský will celebrate the holy mass and welcome all participants. The program will then continue on Friday. The welcome will be followed by an analysis of the social challenges in contemporary Europe and an outline of a possible path of renewal. The socio-economic aspect of this analysis will be presented by Professor Cécile Renouard from Paris and the theological-anthropological aspect by Prof. Miloš Lichner from the Faculty of Theology, University of Trnava, Bratislava.

The afternoon will be devoted to the issue of demographic change and family life: the intention is to discuss the demographic decline and the growing disparities between rural and urban areas in Europe, as well as the place of the family - the basic unit of society - in this context. The keynote speech will be presented by the Croatian politician Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography. This will be followed by round tables and workshops. On Friday evening, an ecumenical prayer with the Sant'Egidio community is planned in the St Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava.

On Saturday 19 March, the event will focus on technological and digital transformation and its ethical and anthropological implications. The question of how digitalization can help in the search for a life of dignity will also be a topic of reflection. The opening address will be delivered by Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture. In the afternoon, the program will continue with the theme of ecological transformation. Proposals for this third part of the discussion will be presented by Professor Alessandra Smerilli of the Holy See's Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Both blocks of the program will be complemented by round tables and structured workshops.

A cultural venue is also planned for Saturday evening. The Roma dance group "Chiriklore" will perform (Birds): it was created in honor of Roma artists working in Slovakia and nearby Central European countries. It depicts snippets of the life of a multi-generational Roma family of nomadic artists and is also a beautiful celebration of authentic Christianity. Most of the dances premiered at the Luník IX housing estate, on the occasion of last year's meeting of the Holy Father Francis with the Roma people at Luník IX, Košice, Slovakia. Guests will also be able to watch film about Silvester Krčméry and Vladimír Jukl, leaders of lay catholic movements in times of communistic reign in Slovakia. 

On the last day, the participants will evaluate the results of the seminars. The event will end with a closing Mass in the Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava, which will be celebrated at 12:00 by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of COMECE. 

"The European Catholic Social Days are an opportunity to present Catholic social doctrine. Presenting Catholic social doctrine for the society in which we find ourselves. Representatives from all the European Bishops' Conferences are coming together to reflect on what the Church can bring to society at this time," said the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bratislava and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Msgr. Stanislav Zvolensky in the Slovak Catholic TV LUX program "In Samaria at the Well” (V Samárii pri studni). He added that traditional social weeks are well-known in Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain.

The first European Catholic Social Days took place from 8 to 11 October 2009 in Gdansk, Poland. The theme was "Solidarity - a challenge for Europe". They began a tradition of regular meetings to bring together Catholic women and men from all over Europe, at intervals of about three to four years, to reflect on Europe and the European Union, drawing on the Church's social teachings. The second European Catholic Social Days took place from 18 to 21 September 2014 in Madrid. They reflected on the theme "Christian faith and the future of Europe".

The upcoming days respond to the situation in Europe, reeling from a pandemic. "It wants to be an optimistic beginning, because it is the nature of the Church as a community or of every believer to bring hope to society and community. So too the theme of the social days wants to speak of hope. About hope after such a dramatic period that has found us unprepared. Not only externally, but also internally. After such great upheavals, it was and is always necessary to talk about a new beginning," said Archbishop Zvolenský. 

Archbishop Zvolensky thinks that the topic of Ukraine will also be very present at the event. "This is based on the simple reflection that it is impossible to bypass such a serious suffering or such a serious social problem as the conflict in a very close country," he said. One part of the church's social doctrine, he said, is "peaceful coexistence between peoples." "The church has its doctrine in this as well. How to resolve conflicts between nations. Then addressing the internal conflicts of society as a whole. What is happening is actually a failure to observe what the Gospel teaches us: out of human weakness there are such radical conflicts. And we can say over and over again in humility, the Church has a role to play to give new hope," recalls the President of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference. 

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