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Friday, May 01, 2009
During Easter week the European Dominican Network (EUDONET) organised a weeklong conference on the institutions of the European Union in Brussels. The event aimed to demystify some of elements of the leviathan-like EU and explore how the Church can minister to it. The occasion also allowed members of the Dominican family, including student-brothers from Poland, England, Germany and the Spanish provinces, to meet and get to know each other.

Based in the International Priory in Brussels (a shining example of European co-operation), we were privileged to be located within walking distance of most of major offices of the Commission and the Brussels’ chamber of the European parliament. Over the week we had numerous meetings with high-ranking civil servants of the Directorates-General, including two serving Director-Generals. All our hosts were very welcoming and very willing to answer our questions as honestly and as fully as they could.
As well as meeting officials of the commission and parliament of the EU we were fortunate to meet with a Deputy Assistant Secretary General of another great example of European co-operation, NATO. One of the highlights of the week was a meeting with the Deputy-General Secretary of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. This provided opportunity for a lively debate and discussion on how the Church should formally work with the EU and on the Christian roots of Europe.

The week was a great success. There was a marvellous sense of fraternity among the members of the group and many friendships were formed (as well as many fine Belgian beers tasted, especially in the Dominican-run pub The Blackfriars). At times it occurred to me that whilst the EU seems to struggle in its endeavour to increase European co-operation it forgets that the Church has allowed this type of relationship to flourish for over a millennium, not only in Europe but throughout the whole world. This certainly can be seen in the Order of Preachers, as this week itself demonstrated

Mark Davoren


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