European Bishops Gather in Rome to Discuss Marriage and the Family

Cardinal Erdo Opens Meeting By Observing Europeans’ Parodoxical Approach to Relationships

Europeans have a contradictory view of marriage and the family: on the one hand cohabitation is on the rise, and on the other is a yearning for long-lasting relationships.

This was the observation of Cardinal Péter Erdő, president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) – a group comprising presidents of 33 European bishops’ conferences.

Opening the organisation’s annual plenary assembly in Rome yesterday, Cardinal Erdő said: “Above all our meeting aims to be a moment of reflection, on the eve of the world Synod on the family, on the questions and phenomena which impact most closely on the family today in Europe.

“In fact the European context presents many elements which are contradictory in themselves. We are faced with a paradox: if a good number of studies highlight an increasing decline in the number of couples who decide to get married and, at the same time, highlight the increase in young couples who instead prefer to live not very stable relationships of cohabitation, nevertheless the majority of Europeans yearn for a long-lasting relationship.

“Furthermore,” he continued, “while there is a tendency almost to proclaim the end of the ‘traditional’ family, the same research reveals the great importance which Europeans attribute to the family, one of the highest values in their scale of values (Source: European Values Study) and the privileged place for the education of children in the life of the society.

“All that points out well how in a Europe marked by a widespread and general ‘desire to escape’ from institutions, which is reflected therefore in marriage and the family, too, people are searching for a stable relationship. And so if the family is an institution and marriage such an important value why is there this dichotomy between the desire of so many Europeans and actual practice? And in such a situation, what is the Church, its pastors and all the faithful called to do?”

The meeting of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences in Europe, which runs until Sunday, will discuss the challenges facing the family today in Europe. Today, the CCEE will have its first ever meeting with Pope Francis.

Cardinal Erdo’s Greetings to Pope Francis

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit