.- Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops of Europe to be zealous and fresh in their approach to evangelizing modern culture, particularly young people.
During a Sept. 29-Oct. 2 gathering in Albania, the bishops were read a message from the Pope in which he urged them to “courageously” identify “new missionary paths of evangelization, especially in serving the new generations.”
The annual assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences was held in Tirana, Albania.
In his message to the bishops, Pope Benedict praised the council as “a vital structure connecting the European episcopates, which for forty years has promoted fruitful collaboration in pastoral and ecumenical activities.”
The council, which is headed by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, dedicated this year's theme to the new evangelization—the late Pope John Paul II's call to re-evangelize formerly Christian societies.
In the opening session of the gathering, Cardinal Erdo recalled how the mission of the council “is to support the Church throughout the continent of Europe, focusing particular attention on those Churches which, during the course of last century, suffered greatly under the dictatorship of atheist regimes.”
“Today we can confidently affirm that the rebirth of the Church in those countries is proof of Divine Providence and of faith in Christ, who was crucified and rose again,” he said.
In addition to the topic of evangelization, the assembly focused on the council's service to the Church in Europe as well as progress made in the area of ecumenical dialogue. The bishops then met with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, to discuss ways to help Christians in the Holy Land.
The bishops also reflected on Pope Benedict's trips this year to Germany, Croatia and Spain, where he attended World Youth Day.
During the assembly, the council re-elected Cardinal Peter Erdo of as president of the body. He will serve a five-year term ending in 2016.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, and Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, head of the Polish bishops’ conference, were elected as vice presidents. They will replace Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux and Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Croatia.
The bishops thanked the newly elected leaders for their readiness to serve and encouraged them in their work of evangelization in Europe. They also thanked “all the members of the outgoing presidency for their work for the good of the Church and for their devotion to promoting fraternal communion among the European episcopates.”