Chargé d'affaires of the Permanent Representation of the Holy See to the Council of Europe
Message to the Representatives of Catholic inspired INGOs with participative status at the Council of Europe,
Strasbourg 9 April 2014
First of all, I would like to thank Monsieur Daniel Guéry for the invitation to take part in this meeting, which I accepted with the greatest pleasure.
I do not intend to bore you with an academic discourse or a sermon, perhaps there will be other occasions for that. This evening, I wish only to reiterate that our Permanent Mission wishes to continue our collaboration in the future and to maintain the good contribution that this has made in the past. I think and I firmly believe that our united aims and our common activities in different fields can lead to positive results.
First or all, I should like to emphasise that we are called to bear witness to our faith. What we believe in our hearts we should witness in our discourse and above all in our daily lives. That arises from our credibility as Christians, and it is by no means unimportant that it arises from the Church herself.
In that respect I emphasise that every one of us in this room has realised and understands that we live at a particular moment in history, at which the economic, social and political crisis and that of values is an unremitting challenge that creates serious difficulties and is a real threat to European society. It seems that all is changing for the worse, democracies are enfeebled, the traditional institution of the family is in danger, in view of ideologies and state policies, which seek to recognise new rights and new forms of union that overthrow the natural order with grave implications for the basis of society as well as for traditional values. Dangerous liberal and ultra-progressive tendencies continue their advance. They are particularly brought to the fore by a number of NGOs, by organisations and by governments. Countries that defend Christian and universal values are, unfortunately ever fewer.
These are not just some of the challenges by which we are confronted and with which we must cope by uniting our strength. Indeed each organisation that you represent in this place has its own nature and role. Nevertheless, when each individual seeks to be "the bearer of his own subjective truth" there is a risk that this will hamper "participation in a common project which goes beyond personal desires and interests" (Evangelii gaudium, 61). That limits our effectiveness (the effectiveness that we can only possess if we remain united and if we work well together) to exercise a positive influence on society and the course of history.
We must not forget that we "belong to the Church together as a group, with its rich variety … and not to such and such a group that considers itself as different or special" (Evangelii gaudium, 98). In that respect Pope Francis invites us to be "pilgrims in faith, happy to bring Jesus to every street, to every square in all corners of the earth!" (Evangelii gaudium, 106). Again the Holy Father reminds us "Challenges exist to be faced." Let us be realistic, but without losing our joy, our nerve and devotion that is full of hope! (Evangelii gaudium, 109).
Thank you and I wish good work to one and all.
Mgr Ignazio Ceffalia, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the Council of Europe.