EN-RE is sending out invitations to its next Annual Conference in Madrid in May 2019 to grassroots christian communities which share its policies on Freedom of Conscience and Human Rights:
You are kindly invited to participate to the 2019 Annual Conference of the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE) which will take place in Madrid, from the 16th to the 19th of May 2019 with the particular aim to meet Christian Associations and grassroots communities from other parts of Europe to share our experience and learn from each other how we interpret the gospels and act in the world accordingly.
EN-RE is an international NGO, registered under French law, composed on a voluntary basis, of Catholic movements in Western Europe who call themselves Grassroots Christians because we think that the Catholic Church has become a structural organization that has lost contact with the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth in the gospels. Many of our movements put into practice the decisions of the Vatican Council II, already in the 1960s, and we have not paid attention to the conservative backward-looking decisions of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We definitely support Pope Francis’s social policies and pastoral approach but criticise him for having not yet taken steps to improve gender issues. At the same time, we appreciate his difficulties due to the mass appointment of very conservative bishops by the previous popes.
We believe in building here and now what Jesus called God’s Kingdom as promoted by Liberation Theology
by extending Human Rights from a viewpoint of love and respect for the rights of all peoples whatever their beliefs, gender, ethnic original or social status.
In accordance with Articles 9, 10, 11 and 14 and Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights we support freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or not to have a religion and to change religion, freedom of expression, equality of rights and non-discrimination between persons, whatever their sex or sexual orientation, whether or not they belong to a religion and whatever their philosophical beliefs; we support therefore the mutual independence and separation of the state and religious institutions, state neutrality towards religions and philosophies in which the State respects equally all religious and/or philosophical beliefs and does not apply exclusively the dictates of any particular belief, in keeping with the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights1.
This has led EN-RE to become an accredited international NGO at the Council of Europe and to be part of its Conference of INGOs in Strasbourg, where it works with colleagues from the 47 member States to favour Human Rights, Social Cohesion, the application of the revised European Social Charter, Gender Equality and other important issues. We also support the application of Council of Europe recommendations in our own countries and establish a two-way communication with civil society. Likewise, EN-RE is accredited to give its point of view on issues dealt with the European Union in Brussels and present them with members of the European parliament.
Some of the members of the EN-RE are self-governing organizations located outside parishes and sometimes without the presence of ordained priests2
1 All this paragraph constitutes what is called in some European countries laicity and in others secularism
2 These members express in that way the community priesthood by all baptised persons.
We strongly criticise the misogyny of the Vatican and its attitude towards LGBTI persons and, of course, we demand the end of compulsory celibacy for the priesthood. We think that the Laity should receive full information on the finances of the Church and that local members should be able to participate in the election of bishops. Considering that the present situation of the priesthood as a caste separated from the Laity is one of the causes of the Church’s problems, we advocate for a new functioning of the Church including reformed ministries equally open to men and women.
Sexual abuses are not only a result of sexual frustration but are also due to a position of personal arrogance and power with which the Church has empowered priests to rule over their congregations. Furthermore, when cases of sexual abuses are denounced, the hierarchy is more interested in protecting the institution and the sexual predators than in helping and compensating the victims, ignoring the often lifelong suffering caused in the lives of innocent minors.
Our website www.en-re.eu provides information about EN-RE’s Constitution and Standing Orders and has links to the websites of most of our member groups and associated organizations like WAC-I (International Movement We are Church). EN-RE has the policy of holding Annual Conferences each year in a different member country but since many of our member groups are also members of WAC-I we have started since our Rome 2018 Annual Conference to hold a joint conference with WAC-I when it meets every two years in Rome.
All the members of the EN-RE feel that they are playing an important role both in the life of the Church which has to evolve into a more meaningful representation of the work of Jesus of Nazareth, and in our modern world in order to enlighten it with the Spirit of Jesus. This is why we wanted to hold our next Annual Conference in Vienna in May 2019 to share our experience and learn from other Christian grassroots communities in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe about the way in which they interpret the gospels and act in the world accordingly.
As a final comment, EN-RE has no salaried staff and all work is carried out by volunteers. Each member country pays a small annual contribution to pay for our membership of the Council of Europe and travel expenses on official activities. Our Annual Conferences contain workshops to discuss new proposals for decisions in the plenary business meeting and a study day which is normally the opportunity of the local member group to express particular subjects of interest to their members and for their members to meet the international delegates from the EN-RE member groups.
EN-RE had chosen Vienna for our 2019 Annual Conference because we have had previous meetings in the Pallottihaus and because of its central location in Europe but since there are no EN-RE member groups in Austria we decided to change the location to Madrid. So we propose to dedicate our Study Day to dialoguing with the European organizations that will accept our invitation to participate in our 2019 Annual Conference. This 2019 conference will give us the opportunity to launch a press release giving our position regarding the European Parliamentary elections.
We are looking forward to meeting you in Madrid.