From Rerum Novarum (1891) to Laudato si (2015). Catholic Social Teaching as a reference for social and ecological welfare. This was the title of the seminar organised in Brussels by the European Movement of Christian Workers and COMECE (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) on 3rd May.
This seminar aimed to make a tour around the social message along these 125 years, since Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, has been given by the various Popes, and the evolution of the social doctrine of the Church up to Laudato Si. The seminar concluded with a round table where different speakers discussed some issues about it. Here youcan find the program (in English).
The seminar continued in the afternoon with a reception in which two European parliamentarians participated. European People's Party: Elmar Brok, and the Party of European Socialists: Patrizia Toia. Joining them Professor Gabriel Ingeborg, vice president of Justice and Peace Europe, shared a memorable talk.
Several bishops accompanied us, but Mons. Gianni Ambrosio, vice president of COMECE and Chairman of its Committee on Social Affairs, and Mr Patrick H. Daly, General Secretary were present during the whole event. In addition to activists of the movements of Christian workers from different countries that are part of this European coordination, we share this seminar with members of various bishops' conferences (Germany, France, Ireland, etc ...), religious organizations that are coordinated at European level: Caritas Europe, European Jesuit, Justice and Peace Europe, Catholic universities (Salamanca, Milan, Leuven, Paris ...) and CEC (Conference of European Churches).
Labor, bread and dignity – The people want and deserve a better Europe.
“Alejandro Riega and Veronica Aversa are visibly very tired but equally happy. They wandered for three weeks, as many of their compatriots, from the extreme north west of Spain to Madrid. ‘Marches for dignity’, that’s how they named the ongoing protest against the austerity policies of the conservative Prime Minister, Marriano Rajoy.” (from Badische Zeitung, 24 March 2014)
Youth unemployment has reached dramatic proportions, especially in these countries which are extremely affected by the crisis, a crisis that increases and intensifies the social division in Europe. The social gap and inequality in member states and in Europe is growing rapidly. It is a scandal that the rich get richer as profiteers of the crises while the number of poor people is increasing.
Our belief is clear: if we want to give globalization a human appearance, we must ensure that Europe proves itself as a model of social equality for all. This Europe of the future must be a new, a different Europe, a Europe which implements the concept of a European social model in actions. For the realization of the social integration of Europe, ECWM gives priority to employment prior to the capital. (encyclical letter Laborem exercens)
On May 3rd, 2016, the European Movement of Christian Workers (ECWM) and the Commission of Bishop Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) will hold a joint seminar at COMECE headquarters in Brussels on the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum. The theme of the seminar will be "From Rerum Novarum (1891) to Laudato si (2015). Catholic social teaching as a reference to social and ecological welfare.
After the attacks at the airport and metro in Brussels, the city that represents the heart of Europe, we express our total rejection of all forms of violence. We are committed to building a culture of acceptance without naivety, whilst opposing discrimination which simply takes advantage of the barbarity of terrorism in many parts of Europe. Terrorism is the exploitation of the individual and of God living in the person.
We support the words of Cardinal Erdo, President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe: "At this time of distress we call on all people of good will not to be overcome by fear but to continue to pray for peace in Europe, in the Middle East and around the world."
Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium: "Until exclusion and inequality are reversed within a society and between different peoples it will be impossible to eradicate violence." We are committed as Christian workers in Europe to continue working towards overcoming exclusion and inequality, relying on dialogue and the common good and avoiding positions of hatred and intolerance towards migrants. We express our closeness and solidarity with the families of the victims of these horrible attacks.
Coordinator European Movement of Christian Workers
The ECWM co-ordinates 20 organisations from 15 countries of the European Union (EU) and Switzerland. It totally rejects the draft agreement reached between the EU and Turkey on refugees. This agreement is a serious step backwards for human rights.
The countries of the EU cannot sign an agreement with Turkey which is contrary to International Law. This agreement violates International and European Conventions ratified by Member States which expressly prohibits the return of persons who are subject to persecution or victims of war. We can easily forget that behind the increase in migration there is always the inhumanity of an unjust economic system in which profit prevails over the dignity of the human person and the common good. We cannot build a fortress Europe and refuse to welcome the stranger. The challenge remains to build a Europe of the people as well as an economic system which serves the needs of everyone and in particular the most vulnerable.
The European Council taking place on 17th & 18th March 2016 is crucial and we, the ECWM, are adamant that we do not want a European Union that may violate human rights and International Laws. We must show our representatives that many organisations and individuals do not agree with this draft agreement and we call upon all people of good will to express their rejection of this decision.
This refugee crisis is a challenge for all of Europe. How does the Christian and humanist heritage of the Continent meet this challenge and be true to the words of the Gospel “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. The ECWM renews our commitment to work for a just and sustainable society in Europe as well as the rest of the world. We are at one with the words of Pope Francis, who declared “It is time to build together a Europe that does not focus entirely on the economy but acknowledges the sacredness of the human person”.
Finally, we remember the words that Jesus Christ left us in His Gospel “Truly, I say to you whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
The meeting of the European Christian Workers Movement (ECMW) held in Lisbon from 16th to 19th October, ended with a statement about two issues as hot as the Transatlantic trade between the US and the European Union and the police raid "Mos maiorum”. Similarly, the European coordinator reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against unemployment.
Seminar: Fighting against unemployment
The European Christian Workers Movement (ECMW) shared the current reality of unemployment in many European countries in its annual seminar in Lisbon. The shared reality shows how critical the situation is for many people, but also the small signs of hope that exist in our environments. Despite the current crisis in the employment throughout Europe we believe that there is work for everyone. We recall that the priority of labour over capital (Laborem Exercens). "Money must serve people, not the other". Therefore it is necessary people who have jobs, are aware that the work is something more than employment. But the job created has to be decent to break these dynamics, and besides everyone has the right to a minimum income, independently whether they have employment or not. For reversing this situation, we propose the following actions:
• A joint program in Europe that addresses the creation of jobs. A program which ends the current austerity measures in favour of public spending and investment will lead to millions of new jobs and decent work for everybody. The creation of decent work will contribute to build full rather precarious lives and it will encourage people to contribute to society as a whole.
• We will also continue to promote the World Day for Decent Work on 7th October of each year. Decent work must be at the center of the political agenda of the EU.
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