Your Eminence, on behalf of His Holiness Pope Francis, I am pleased to greet you, your brother bishops, the organizers and the participants at this year’s “Catholic Social Days for Europe”, as you gather in Madrid from 18 to 21 September. I assure you of the Holy Father’s spiritual closeness as you reflect on “The Christian Faith and the Future of Europe”.
One of the great challenges for the Church in Europe is to find effective ways to bring the light of the Gospel to bear upon the pressing issues which affect the continent. In rising to this challenge, the participant of all the faithful, under the direction of the Council of Bishop’s Conference of Europe and the Commission of the Bishops’ of the European Community, acquires greater urgency. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that “from the heart of the Gospel we see the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement” (178). He is confident that, as you reflect on the many areas on which the light of the Gospel sheds meaning, you will be able to trace new and concrete ways of responding to diverse pastoral demands.
In this context, the Holy Father encourages you to deepen your own pursuit of holiness by a firm commitment to personal prayer and conversion. Thus you will offer to the various sectors of society a more coherent and joyful witness which will awaken consciences to the reality that temporal goods and the ordering of society must be at the service of the human person and their ultimate fulfilment in God. He prays especially that this event will highlight the ways in which faith compels us to transmit the Church’s love for the poor, for those suffering persecution, for all who are forced to flee their homes and for those who come to Europe in search of refuge. A Church that gives greater attention to the material needs of those who suffer will also learn how to provide a more convincing proclamation of truth and salvation to those who hunger and thirst for eternal life and to those who “call you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15).
Commending all the participants of this meeting to the loving care of Our Lady of Europe, His Holiness imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace, peace and joy.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Pietro Card. Parolin
Secretary of State [-]