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).
The next day, members of the Movement of Christian workers in Europe went to the European Parliament. We did three working groups to meet with 4 MEPs from Spain and Germany: Paloma Lopez, parliamentary of the European United Left. Jutta Steinruck and Peter Simon of the Party of European Socialists and Sven Giegold Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance. We were talking, firstly about who we are (workers and Christians) and what we did in Brussels in those days. Afterwards we share and address the situation of TTIP, renewable energy, the situation of refugees, basic income, the situation of workers in Europe.
A few days after this seminar Pope received the Charlemagne Prize, and he repeated as only he knows a call for dialogue, that already resonated strongly in the part of the Evangelii Gaudium dedicated to the social dimension of evangelisation. That we sought. That we did. An exercise of dialogue. We put in dialogue the social doctrine of the Church of these 125 years with the current situation we, working people, are living especially the most precarious ones in Europe and worldwide. We dialogued with our brother bishops who are also coordinated at European level and with other ecclesial and ecumenical realities also concerned about the social dimension of our faith. We also dialogued with members of the European popular sovereignty to recognize them as valid interlocutors; worried about a just society without exclusions. And the dialogue was a gift, because it enabled the meeting, made us confirm our convictions to share and listen to others. I keep some Pope’s sentences of that historic speech, as forceful phrases as concrete for these times forced precariousness: "If we want to understand our society in a different way, we need to create decent jobs and well paid, especially for our young”. "We must move from a liquid economy, which tends to encourage corruption as a means for profit, to a social economy that ensures access to land and home through work. "
Manolo Copé, ECWM Coordinator
Translation by: Pino Trejo, HOAC Spain