After five years as President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco has given way to Bishop Gintaras Linas Grušas, Archbishop of Vilnius. He was elected during the Plenary Assembly of Bishops which took place from September 23 to 26 in Rome. The CCEE, which brings together the 33 presidents of Episcopal Conferences from all over Europe, celebrated on this occasion its 50e birthday.
Sons of Lithuanian immigrants to the United States
Born in Washington on September 23, 1961, Bishop Gintaras Linas Grušas came from a family of Lithuanian immigrants who fled the Communist regime by joining California and the United States. The future priest studied mathematics and computer science there at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before joining the firm IBM, where he worked for five years as a technical consultant.
Gintaras Linas Grušas then entered seminary at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and continued his studies in Rome at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, where he obtained a license in sacred theology. In 1994, he was ordained a priest, and was chosen to be secretary general of the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference. He held this post until 1997, before being rector of the Vilnius seminary from 2001 to 2003.
In 2010, he was appointed bishop in the armies of Lithuania, then archbishop of Vilnius in 2013. Since 2014, he has been president of the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference. He is also a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See.
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Bishop Gintaras Linas Grušas was elected alongside two new vice-presidents: Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of Comece (Commission of Episcopates of the European Union), and Bishop László Német, President of the Episcopal Conference of Saints Cyril and Methodius – which brings together the bishops of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
33 presidents of European Bishops’ Conferences
Created in 1971 in the wake of Vatican Council II, the CCEE is a ” organism of communion between the Episcopal Conferences of Europe whose purpose is the promotion and conservation of the goods of the Church », According to article 1 of its statutes.
Not to be confused with Comece, which is limited to the countries of the European Union (EU) and whose mission is to create links with EU bodies, the CCEE brings together Presidents of Episcopal Conference from 33 countries: Albania, Germany, England and Wales, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Scotland, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal , Romania, Russia, Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland), Slovakia, Slovenia, Saints Cyril and Methodius (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo), Czech Republic, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.
In the final message of the CCEE Plenary Assembly on Sunday, September 26, the bishops recalled that “Our mission urges us to walk together towards the future of a continent born of a destiny of beauty and civilization, of goodness spread and consolidated in hearts and traditions. (…) Jesus is the true hope of Europe because he is the truth, and only the truth sets us free. “