This was one of the conclusions of an annual meeting of the Eastern Catholic bishops, which concluded Sunday in Sofia.
The theme of the meeting, which was sponsored by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE), was "The ecclesiological Criteria of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Reality Today." It also marked the 150th anniversary of the union of Bulgaria's Eastern Catholic Church with Rome.
Some 35 prelates representing various Eastern Churches of Europe took part in the meeting, along with Cardinal Peter Erdo, CCEE president, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and other representatives of that dicastery. Members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers also participated.
On Friday, at the beginning of the meeting, there was a prayer service in memory of Monsignor Eleuterio Fortino, who died due to illness on Sept. 22. He was supposed to have given the opening talk on "The Ecclesiological Criteria of the Eastern Catholic Churches on the Basis of the Vatican II Documents and Recent Papal Documents," but before he passed away he provided an outline for the address. Thus Father Manuel Nin, rector of Rome's Pontifical Greek College, was able to give the talk based on the outline and previous works of Monsignor Fortino, who had served as subsecretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and focused particularly on relations with the Orthodox Churches.
Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, next gave a talk on "Pastoral Structures for Catholic Migrants from the Eastern Churches, on the Basis of the Instruction 'Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi.'"
The Byzantine exarch of Sofia, Bishop Christo Proykov, who hosted the meeting in his region, presided over a Divine Liturgy with the participants in which they recalled the Greek Catholic martyrs of the communist persecution and how that Church was almost wiped out.
In another Divine Liturgy, celebrated on Saturday, Cardinal Sandri gave the homily and urged his listeners to give an authentic witness of faith to young people in particular.
Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, apostolic nuncio to Bulgaria, read a letter that Benedict XVI sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Eastern Catholic Church in Bulgaria.
The next annual meeting of Eastern bishops will take place in Oradea, Romania, on the theme, "You Will Be My Witnesses: The Evangelization in Europe's Catholic Eastern Churches."