by Timothy Elphick
CATHOLIC parishes in Britain should consider twinning with parishes in the EC, a pastoral message will urge this Sunday.
Twinning with fellow communities will give European integration a Christian dimension, according to the pastoral issued on behalf of the bishops' conference for Europe Day.
Archbishop Couve de Murville of Birmingham, chairman of the bishops' conference Committee for European Affairs, said that Catholics should ask God "to help us as we face an exciting future but one which will have difficulties as well as joys".
The Archbishop stressed that "a Europe uniting in relative prosperity must remain sensitive to the needs of those beyond the Community and generously help and promote their development".
"We should, at a national, diocesan, deanery and parish level establish links and twinning relationships which will enable us to make friends with fellow Catholics and other Christians abroad," Archbishop Couve de Murville said.
"The Catholic Church in England and Wales has a widely-based membership and we should build on it to promote such activities as language learning which will enable to take full advantage of the freedoms of a frontierless Europe," he said.
But Archbishop Couve de Murville said that no one should forget that "there remains what the Holy Father has called the 'other lung' of European life, and for most in central and eastern Europe economic miracles and peace with democracy are concepts and possibilities hardly more than a few years old," he said.
A spokesman for the bishops' conference Committee on Europe said the church wanted to bring home to Catholics in Britain the importance of the changes due to take place in Europe at the end of 1992.
Closer links with towns and villages in the countries of the European Community, which could begin with exchange visits, football matches and the like, would be a first step towards the bishops' vision of a Christian renaissance on the continent.