The Church in Europe

Joint statement CCEE – CEC. Season of Creation 2020 – ‘Jubilee for the Earth’

25 August 2020

 

From 1 September to 4 October, Christians all over the world celebrate the Season of Creation, as well as the Day of Creation on 1 September. Following the tradition from previous years, in CEC and CCEE, we have taken advantage of this occasion and have encouraged our Member Churches in Europe to acknowledge these days to celebrate the richness of our faith as an expression to protect our common home.

The values of Season of Creation go back to the roots of the Christian faith. Creation is a gift of God for mankind and for all living beings. It is therefore our responsibility to protect it as good and reliable stewards, and as faithful servants of God. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it,” (Psalm 24:1).

Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’ underlined that “the urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.” At the same time, he strongly appealed “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.

Similarly, one of the significant theologians of our era Jurgen Moltmann has made it clear that “today the theological adversary is the nihilism practised in our dealings with nature” and called for “a discernment of the God, who is present in creation through his Holy Spirit,” a discernment that “can bring men and women to reconciliation and peace with nature.”

Celebrating the Day of Creation and the Season of Creation has a significant ecumenical dimension. While celebrating these days, we look back and give thanks for the proposal of the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. Since that time, the idea of the Season of Creation and its ecumenical spirit has been further confirmed by the European Ecumenical Assemblies organised jointly by CEC and CCEE in Basel 1989, Graz 1997 and Sibiu 2007.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how deeply the globe is interconnected. We realised more than ever that we are not isolated from each other and that conditions related to human health and well-being are fragile. Impact of the pandemic forces us to take seriously the need for vigilance and the need for conditions of sustainable life throughout the earth. This is even more important when considering the environmental devastation and the threat of climate change.

We invite you to celebrate the Season of Creation this year under the heading of Jubilee for the Earth. The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the Bible and underlines that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities. The lesson from the biblical concept of jubilee points us towards the need to restore balance in the very systems of life, affirming the need for equality, justice and sustainability and confirming the need for a prophetic voice in defence of our common home.

We invite all of the shepherds and European Christians, the parishes, church communities and every person of good will to pay attention to the Season of Creation and to live it with an ecumenical spirit, united in prayer and action.

H. Em. Card. Angelo Bagnasco
President of CCEE 

Rev. Christian Krieger
President of CEC

www.ccee.eu


CBCEW. Bishops clarify the Catholic position on vaccination

(Source:https://www.cbcew.org.uk)

The Catholic Bishops responsible for Healthcare and Life issues have released a paper providing clarity and assurances on the moral issues surrounding vaccination and to encourage Catholics to commit to protecting the most vulnerable in society.

Bishop Paul Mason, Lead Bishop for Healthcare, and Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues, stress the Catholic Church’s support for vaccination to protect the most vulnerable of our society – especially those affected by immunodeficiency, pregnant women and their unborn children.

As research and trials continue in the global search for an effective vaccination to prevent COVID-19, the paper also addresses the development of future vaccines and expresses the hope that the ethical sourcing of a vaccine for COVID-19 is possible.

The bishops make it clear that the Church distinguishes between the unethical sourcing of vaccines in the present day and the use of historical cell-lines which were derived from aborted foetuses in the 1970s. They reiterate the Church’s moral position in opposing the production of vaccines using such tissue and acknowledge the distress many Catholics experience when faced with a choice of not vaccinating their child or seeming to be complicit in abortion.

However, the bishops reiterate Church teaching that “the paramount importance of the health of a child and other vulnerable persons could permit parents to use a vaccine which was in the past developed using these diploid cell lines.”

The paper echoes a note published by the Holy See’s Pontifical Academy for Life in 2017 that states “all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion.”

In terms of the development of future vaccines, Bishop John Sherrington wrote to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care in July 2019 urging the Government to promote the future production of vaccines using material from non-human cells or ethically sourced human cells.

The Department of Health and Social Care gave Bishop Sherrington the following assurances:

“As I am sure you will agree, the safety and efficacy of vaccines is extremely important. In cases where it can be proven that they are equally effective and as safe as the original vaccine, manufacturers have introduced alternatives to the human diploid cells. However, this has not been the case for rubella, rabies or hepatitis A vaccines. Please be assured that new human foetal tissue will not be used to make these vaccines. Moreover, the Department is not aware of any new vaccines being produced using human diploid cells.”

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Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. The Catholic position on vaccination.

The Catholic position on vaccination


This paper will aim to provide clarity and assurances to Catholics about Church teaching and
moral issues regarding vaccination. It will demonstrate the Church’s support for vaccination
to protect the most vulnerable of our society, especially those affected by
immunodeficiency, pregnant women and their unborn children. Finally, it will address
concerns regarding the development of future vaccines, including those regarding the
Church’s teaching on vaccination raised by Catholics during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Safety and solidarity with the most vulnerable


The Catholic Church strongly supports vaccination and regards Catholics as having a prima
facie duty to be vaccinated, not only for the sake of their own health but also out of
solidarity with others, especially the most vulnerable. We believe that there is a moral
obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others. This is
especially important for the discovery of a vaccine against COVID-19.
Avoidance of vaccination carries with it dangerous and potentially grave consequences for
the most vulnerable in society, and we recognise the anxiety which this is causing to those
most at risk.


Concerns have been raised by some about potential side effects of vaccination. We echo the
words of the Pontifical Academy for Life published in a 2017 document, published in
collaboration with the “Ufficio per la Pastorale della Salute” of Italian Bishops’ Conference
and the “Association of Italian Catholic Doctors”, which commented:
From the clinical point of view, it should also be reiterated that treatment with
vaccines, despite the very rare side effects (the events that occur most commonly are
mild and due to an immune response to the vaccine itself), is safe and effective. No
correlation exists between the administration of the vaccine and the onset of
Autism.’ 1


Moral obligations and objections


The Church is opposed to the production of vaccines using tissue derived from aborted
foetuses, and we acknowledge the distress many Catholics experience when faced with a
choice of not vaccinating their child or seeming to be complicit in abortion.
Nevertheless, the Church teaches that the paramount importance of the health of a child
and other vulnerable persons could permit parents to use a vaccine which was in the past
developed using these diploid cell lines.


In 2005 the Pontifical Academy for Life published a document titled, ‘Moral reflections on
vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetuses.’ The document details
the moral objections towards vaccines which have been prepared from cells derived from
aborted human foetuses.


We support the Pontifical Academy for Life’s belief that ‘all clinically recommended
vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not
signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion.’ 2


If a pregnant woman, for example a teacher in a school, comes into contact with
unvaccinated children, unfair and complex moral decisions may be imposed upon her,
including whether it would be safe for her to work during her pregnancy. Exposure to
unvaccinated children could incur serious consequences, the gravest of which include a
threat to the lives of the mother and her unborn child.


The Pontifical Academy for Life also clearly states the moral obligations which we have as a
society to vaccinate in order to protect the health of the most vulnerable. It distinguishes
between the work to prevent the unethical production of vaccines and the harms arising
from non-vaccination:


There remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in
order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously
and unethically. However, the burden of this important battle cannot and must not
fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population – especially
with regard to pregnant women.’ 3


The Church distinguishes between the present unethical sourcing of vaccines and the use of
historical cell-lines which were derived from aborted foetuses in the 1970s.
Human society has often benefitted from the wrongs done in the past for which we must
repent. We live with the benefits of very questionable medical experimentation. For
example, Edward Jenner, who invented vaccination, conducted research by injecting an 8
year old boy with cowpox followed by smallpox. While today such experimentation would
be unethical by any standards, we wouldn’t deny life-saving vaccination because of its
dubious historic provenance.


Covid-19


The Catholic Church prays for and encourages all those who are seeking to find a vaccine
against this destructive virus. We hope that ethical sourcing of such a vaccine is possible.


The development of future vaccines


On 7 June 2019 Bishop John Sherrington wrote to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of
State for Public Health and Primary Care urging the Government to promote the future
production of vaccines using material from non-human cells or ethically sourced human
cells.
The Department of Health and Social Care gave Bishop John Sherrington the following
assurances:


As I am sure you will agree, the safety and efficacy of vaccines is extremely
important. In cases where it can be proven that they are equally effective and as safe
as the original vaccine, manufacturers have introduced alternatives to the human
diploid cells. However, this has not been the case for rubella, rabies or hepatitis A
vaccines.


‘Please be assured that new human foetal tissue will not be used to make these
vaccines. Moreover, the Department is not aware of any new vaccines being
produced using human diploid cells.’ 4


Conclusion
We hope that this document has been helpful in providing clarity and assurances about the
moral issues regarding vaccination and we encourage Catholics to commit to protecting the
most vulnerable in our society, one method of which is effective vaccination.


Bishop Paul Mason (Lead Bishop for Healthcare)
Bishop John Sherrington (Lead Bishop for Life Issues)

 

 

1 Note on Italian vaccine issue’ (2017), Pontifical Academy for Life, http://www.academyforlife.va/content/pav/en/theacademy/activity-academy/note-vaccini.html (accessed 26.11.19)

2 ‘Note on Italian vaccine issue’ (2017), Pontifical Academy for Life
3 ‘Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetuses’ (2005), Pontifical Academy for Life, https://www.ncbcenter.org/files/1714/3101/2478/vaticanresponse.pdf (accessed 15.1.20)

4 Letter from Nung Yang (Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries, Department of Health and Social Care) to Bishop John Sherrington, (3 July 2019)

LET US REMAIN UNITED. Joint Statement of the Presidents of COMECE and CEC. 02-04-2020

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Joint Statement

of the Presidents of COMECE and CEC

in the context of the COVID–19 pandemic

LET US REMAIN UNITED

This is the time to show our commitment to European values

The joint statement titled “Let Us Remain United”, issued on Thursday, 2 April 2020, urges a demonstration of “joint commitment to common European values of solidarity and unity”, encouraging political decision-makers to establish “measures alleviating social, economic and financial shocks”.

COMECE President H. Em. Card. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ and CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger, also express their deep gratitude for those “who serve their fellow human beings with empathy and warmth” and welcome the “individual and collective initiatives that are reinventing new forms of solidarity”.

The statement acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic and its dire consequences have hit Europe and the entire world with great strength. “Putting to the test every person, family and community, the present crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities and apparent certainties of our politics, economics and societies,” it reads.

“Instead of capitulating to fear and nationalism,” they say, it is time to reinforce international cooperation and humanitarian assistance to support weaker health systems and regions in need.

The two presidents praise “the numerous policy actions” carried out by the EU and its Member States and encourage political leaders to act in a “determined, transparent, empathic and democratic way” while battling with the virus.

Download the statement: ENFRDEITES

CCEE: Season of Creation 2019 -The Network of Life. 01 August 2019

Season of Creation 2019 -The Network of Life

Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and of the Conferences of European Churches (CEC)

1 August2019

Read the Document

 

 

COMECE publishes reflection on the Future of Work -“Shaping the future of work”. 11.05.2018

In view of the 2019 European elections and on the occasion of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) centenary initiative on the future of work, the COMECE Social Affairs Commission publishes the Reflection Paper “Shaping the future of work”. The document encourages the EU to shape the digital and ecological transformations of the world of work aiming to the common good.

 

Reflection paper “Shaping the future of work”

COMECE. 2019 Elections: EU Bishops call their fellow citizens to discernment and responsibility. Press Release, 26/10/2018

On 24-26 October 2018 Bishops of the European Union gathered in Brussels for the Autumn Assembly focusing on the 2019 European elections. Participants reflected on future EU challenges in dialogue with high-level officials of the Union, in particular with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Luca Jahier (EESC) and Michel Barnier (European Commission).

 

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Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference: “Two Lives, One Love”

Please see below key points from the submission of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to the Citizens’ Assembly on the topic of the Eighth Amendment.  The full text, which follows in English, Irish and Polish, was submitted to the Citizens’ Assembly on 9 December 2016 and was also made available in parishes:

  • The Constitution celebrates the equality of the mother and the unborn child in its Eighth Amendment.
  • We have an obligation to be at our most compassionate, our most merciful, if and when the expectant mother and father and their unborn child require support during a crisis pregnancy.
  • Supporting and sustaining a culture of life is in the interests of every generation and it defines us as a society.
  • We believe that human life is sacred from conception until natural death and that Article 40.3.3 reflects the appropriate balance of rights.
  • There is no such thing as a human life without value.
  • The deletion or amendment of Article 40.3.3, would serve no purpose other than to withdraw the right to life from some categories of unborn children. To do so would radically change the principle, for all unborn children and indeed for all of us, that the right to life is a fundamental human right.
  • For us, as Christians, there is no conflict between faith and reason. Just as reason leads us to recognise the continuity of every human life, from fertilisation to natural death, so faith allows us to see each person as having his or her origins in the intention of God and his or her fulfilment in eternal life.
  • We are concerned that language is being used with the intention of depersonalising certain categories of unborn children in a way which seeks to normalise abortion.
  • Many thousands of Irish people are alive as a direct result of the enactment of the Eighth Amendment, who might otherwise never have been born.
  • We believe that every unborn child, irrespective of his or her medical condition or the circumstances of his or her birth, has the right to be treated equally before the law.
  • Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may, as a secondary effect, put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are always ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby. Abortion, by contrast, is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances. It is not a medical treatment.

See the Document