The Annual Conference of the European Network Church on the Move started on Thursday 28 April and ended on Sunday 1 May, coinciding with the commemoration of the founding of the EN, 20 years ago. Delegates from 24 member organizations of grassroots Christians from 11 European countries were present together with one observer from the American Catholic Council and another from the European Federation for Religious Freedom.

The Conference decided to ratify its commitment to actively participate in political institutions and other groups so as to advance in the separation of powers between Church and Society. Likewise, the Conference insisted in the need for progress in the development of human rights and solidarity as the most distinct element of the religious contribution to European integration. Last but not least, the Conference called on the Catholic hierarchy to return to the spirit of the 2nd Vatican Council, make its structure democratic and provide equal rights for women and men in the Church.

During the Conference there was a Study Day with the title Christianity for a new Worldwide Ethic. The main paper was by the Basque theologian José Arregi who reaffirmed the validity of the values of Christianity in their contribution to a new ethic for countries and people, based on the example of Jesus instead of on power structures. The former Unesco Director General, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, sent a videoed message for the members encouraging the contribution of religion as a means to achieve a society with universal dignity for all people. The last speaker was the former Vicepresident of the Generalitat Government of Catalunya, Josep Lluís Carod-Rovira, who presented the model of secularism applied by the Catalan Government during the last few years.

The Conference delegates made a private visit to the Sagrada Familia, where they were received by Sra. Roser Maragall, a member of the patronato of the cathedral. She explained that the genius of Gaudí was not understood in his time and invited members to continue to work for more justice and solidarity both in Society and the Church, in spite of the current misunderstandings and difficulties.

The delegates also visited Montserrat, the spiritual centre of Catalunya, where they were received by the prior of the abbey. He stressed the importance of plurality in creating areas of the Church where members of society can experience the liberating message of the gospels. He also highlighted the importance for Christian movements and organizations in organising themselves in networks so as to profit by the experience of different cultural contexts.

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Joan Oñate

European Network Church on the Move

Móvil +34 607 201 904

Barcelona 1st May 2011