European Bishops Conference, COMECE held a panel debate at the European Parliament on the role of common free time for social, religious and civic engagement. It brought together partners of the European Sunday Alliance. The event was hosted by two members of the European Parliament. It highlighted the challenge of reconciling social commitment with increasingly flexibilized working schedules.
“Participants exchanged ideas, experiences and statistics, shaping a dialogue on the effects of the changing world of work on European society, whose social, religious and civic engagement is declining due to lack of common free time and free Sundays. The issue of synchronized free time for all citizens in Europe is important at a personal level to ensure an adequate time of rest and for social, cultural or sports activities, but also at a spiritual level as a day of rest and religious edification.”
In promoting Sunday rest, Pope Francis said, “Sunday is a holy day for Christians, sanctified by the Eucharistic celebration, the living presence of the Lord among us and for us. It is necessary to revive this awareness, to recover the meaning of the celebration, the meaning of the joy, of the parish community, of solidarity, of the rest which restores body and soul.”
During the event at the European Parliament, the European Trade Union representative, Agnieszka Piasna, showed that collective free time is closely related to well-being and civic engagement. “It helps EU citizens to spend more time in activities that promote personal growth and community involvement,” she said.
“Common free time is scarcer, but new digital ways of activism cannot replace ‘traditional’ ways for social and civic engagement – said Chris Droogenbroeck, another trade union representative, who also acknowledged the decline of engagement in the trade union sector due to more flexible working schedules and increased pressure while at work. The results of the recent survey among ESA members on Sunday rest and overtime hours have shown a similar picture.
This was the 6th meeting of the panel of the Interest Group on Work-life Balance, which was launched in 2015 by the European Sunday Alliance. Their purpose is to “raise awareness of the need of EU actions aimed at a better articulation of private, family and work life.”
As usual, COMECE and its Sunday Alliance partners are applying all the good social effects that God intended for the Sabbath to provide to Sunday. They want stricter laws in support of Sunday rest in the European Union.
“The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, page 141.