.- On Thursday, members of Bishop's conferences throughout Europe will gather in Rome to discuss the direction of the Church, and new means of Evangelization in light of the Second Vatican Council, the closing of which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. The plenary assembly of the Presidents of Europe's Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) will open tomorrow's conference in the "Salesianum" center in Rome to reflect on the theme: "The Second Vatican Council and Europe. Future directions?"
Presidents of the 34 European Bishop's conferences will attend the meeting, scheduled to last until October 2, at the invitation of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of His Holiness and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
The Vatican said that first day discussions will look at the theme of Vatican Council II and Europe on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the council sessions.
The prelates will seek to come up with basic guidelines for evangelization within the Bishop's conferences in the light of Vatican II recommendations.
Specifically, they will look at questions in the fields of vocations, school and university catechesis, the means of social communications and migration.
Likewise, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, England will open debate on present-day ecumenism and the forthcoming Third European Ecumenical Assembly. The Vatican noted that the bishops will be informed about the program for the first stage of the assembly, slated to take place in Rome on January 24-27, 2006.
In the second part of the Assembly, the conference presidents will focus on a number of events at the heart of their work, namely, World Youth Day in Cologne; the Italian referendum on fertility treatment; the debate in Spain on the family, and the question of euthanasia.
They will also tackle debate on the relationship between the Churches and the European Union, and the future of the process of European unification.
The plenary assembly will conclude on October 2nd, at St. Peter's Basilica with the opening Mass for the 11th General Synod of Bishops.