Belgian conference encourages the New Evangelization in European cities
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.- Thousands of participants of all ages came from Belgium, Europe, and beyond to gather last week for the “Brussels All Saints 2006” Congress.  The Congress, which is part of an annual gathering rotating through European cities, was titled “Come and See” and took place at the Sacred-Heart Basilica of Koekelberg and St. Michael’s Cathedral.

For a full week the Congress focused on Christian values aiming at making the Catholic Church more visible in Brussels’ landscape by encouraging a renewed Catholic culture.

During the closing session of the congress the European Cardinals who have organized previous congresses in Brussels, Lisbon, Vienna, and Paris as well as the head of the Archdiocese of Budapest, where the next congress will take place, called for a culture of God with more individual and collective responsibility.   Cardinals Godfried Danneels, Péter Erdö, José da Cruz Policarpo, Christoph Schönborn and André Vingt-Trois reflected on the living message of the Church in the heart of Europe’s cities.  

Cardinal Danneels issued a vibrant appeal for an increase in Christian ethics which challenge the media and politicians not to be silent on euthanasia, aids, abortion, illegal refugees, and poverty.

The Belgian cardinal was pleased that the objective of the congress, “to place the Church back on the map so that it can give to contemporaries its message on the sense of life,” had been achieved.  

In the way it approaches youth, Danneels stressed, “the Church should not behave like goldfish swimming comfortably in an aquarium but like a trout daring to swim against the current.”

In a keynote speech “The poor evangelise us in depth”, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the St. Egidio movement, addressed the crucial problem of the marginalization of the aged, infirm, and dying in European cities. “It isn’t a scandal if the healthy mix with the sick, if the wealthy mix with the poor, if the weak mix with the strong,” Riccardi affirmed.  He went on to call for an alliance between the humble and the poor, because he said, “in humility, grows the fraternity with the poor.”

Other prominent topics of the congress included a speech by Enzo Bianchi on prayer and Evangelisation, as well as testimonies connected with the “faith in the city.”  The issue of Muslim immigration and growth in Europe was also covered.

The hosts of the next Congress, Cardinal Erdö, and his Austrian neighbour, Cardinal Schönborn, told Aid to the Church in Need that they are hopeful that many young people “especially from Eastern Europe” will come to Budapest from 16-23 September 2007.

Cardinal Erdö also noted that half of the new vocations in his country came from youth inspired by World Youth Days.

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