Bishops’ Conferences, the Archbishops of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishops of Chişinău (Moldova) of the Mukachevo Eparchy and the Apostolic Administration of Estonia; all together they represent the Catholic Church in forty-five countries in the European continent.
The CCEE Presidency consists of a President and two Vice-Presidents elected for a renewable five-year term. The Secretariat is run by a General Secretary, appointed by the Plenary Assembly of the CCEE, for a renewable five-year term, aided by a Deputy Secretary-General appointed by the Presidency. The Secretariat is based in St. Gallen (Switzerland).
At the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Presidents of thirteen Bishops’ Conferences in Europe decided to analise the possibility of collaboration among themselves.
After a series of meetings, the CCEE was officially established in March 1971 with the approval of the directive rules by the Congregation of Bishops. Those were subsequently amended and, in 1995, the current Statutes were approved; under the new Statutes, it was established that the members of CCEE were the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, represented by their respective Presidents. Moreover, the Statute contemplates the possibility of equating to the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences, the bishops representing the episcopate of the regions in which a Bishops’ Conference has not been established (art.3, § 3), or of associating, in an appropriate manner, the bishops not belonging to any Bishop Conference (art. 3, § 4).
Throughout its history, the CCEE has organized numerous initiatives, including several Symposia and numerous meetings on topics of great pastoral importance for Europe.
The nature and objectives of the CCEE are defined by the Statute (art.1) approved by St. John Paul II on December 2, 1995: “The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) is an organism of communion among the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe that has as its goal the promotion and custody of the good of the Church “.
Among the goals set by the CCEE, it is worth mentioning: the exercise of collegiality in the hierarchical communion cum et sub romano pontiff; the realisation of a closer communication and cooperation between the Bishops and the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, respecting the function and the specific skills of each one, to promote and inspire the new evangelisation in Europe; the promotion of communion with the Councils of the Bishops’ Conferences of other continents; support for ecumenical collaboration in Europe for the unity of Christians and a living ecclesial witness in European society.