The Caritas Europa Conference 2016 took place in Lourdes this week from 23 to 26 May. Over 300 people, from 42 European countries, including Irish representative, Colm Hogan from Trócaire, gathered at the conference to discuss the state of family and child poverty, extreme vulnerability, participation in the economy, and migration and asylum in Europe.
At the conclusion of this gathering, Caritas Europe called on European leaders to join forces with people, civil society organisations and churches to build an inclusive and outward looking Europe; to make Pope Francis’ dream of Europe a reality.
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).
Monsignor Luc Van Looy, President of Caritas Europa, said that, “Europe needs a fresh start, a new pan-European project that holds solidarity, fraternity and the dignity of people at its core.”
During this Regional Conference, Caritas Europa offered people living in vulnerability, volunteers and Caritas staff a platform to engage in dialogue and reflection. The participants concluded that they face similar difficulties despite coming from different countries and 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,” said Tsenko, a former homeless person, today a social worker at The Good Samaritan shelter of Caritas Bulgaria.
“It was wonderful to see hundreds of people gathering in Lourdes around Caritas and its vision of a united Europe that holds people in its heart. The participation of all, including people experiencing poverty, demonstrated how people across Europe want to work together to tackle common problems and renew solidarity in Europe,” said Bernard Thibaud, vice-President of Caritas Europa.
For more information on Caritas Europa, visit www.caritas.eu.