In the light of Pope Francis’ dream of Europe, the Caritas Europa Regional Conference 2016 calls on European leaders to join forces with people, civil society organisations and churches to build an inclusive and outward looking Europe.
Europe is increasingly challenged by rising poverty, social injustice, conflicts, xenophobia and nationalism. Caritas Europa urges European governments to strengthen the role of the Council of Europe in ensuring that social rights are respected, including the right to be protected against poverty and social exclusion (art. 30, European Social Charter).
When countries compete against each other, we all lose. For the common good, we need more solidarity between countries and between peoples.
“Europe needs a fresh start, a new pan-European project that holds solidarity, fraternity and the dignity of people at its core,” said Msgr. Luc Van Looy, President of Caritas Europa.
Over 300 people from 42 European countries came together in Lourdes from 23 to 26 May at the Caritas Europa Regional Conference, including CAFOD and CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) from England and Wales, to discuss the state of family and child poverty, extreme vulnerability, participation in the economy, and migration and asylum in Europe. The participants concluded that they face similar difficulties despite coming from different countries. They also acknowledged that these challenges should be seized as an opportunity to trigger cooperation and build one Europe together.
“I met people from other countries in Europe who have lived through similar experiences. Now, like them, the good that Caritas gave me I can give it back to others. Now, I live a life in dignity and I fully participate in society,” said Tsenko, a former homeless person, today social worker at The Good Samaritan shelter of Caritas Bulgaria.
During this Regional Conference, Caritas Europa offered people living in vulnerability, volunteers and Caritas staff a platform to engage in dialogue and reflection. This resulted in proposals for solutions based on their life experiences. Caritas Europa’s strategies for the future were approved and also address these issues.
Sr Lynda Dearlove, Vice Chair of CSAN said: “It was wonderful to experience the real spirit of caritas, the shared passion for justice and for responding to the needs of the most poor and excluded people in our society. Representatives from CSAN and CAFOD experienced real solidarity from Caritas organisations from across Europe. We were delighted to renew friendships with our sister agency Secours Catholique on the occasion of their 70th birthday. We remain committed to working with them to address the problem of migrants trapped in the camps in Northern France.”