Category Archives: {:it}Voci dell’insieme{:}{:en}Voices of Togetherness{:}{:de}Stimmen eines Miteinander {:}{:fr}Voix d’Ensemble{:}

My Vision of Europe: Young People in Their Own Words

My Vision of Europe: Young People in Their Own Words

The European dream has been, since its very beginning, an opportunity to overcome the mutual distrust and misconceptions which have existed between European peoples for centuries.

Throughout the history of European integration, issues pertinent to young people were often overshadowed by other, no less important topics, such as ecology or workers’ rights. This began to change in the 1990s and especially from 2000, when several educational youth exchange programmes including ‘Erasmus Mundus’ for university students as well as employment support programmes such as the Italian ‘Garanzia Giovani’ Projects were set up.

For young people, a united Europe is an enticing prospect. Many see it as an opportunity to form a broad community of men and women within which to seek points of contact between cultures and traditions stemming from a shared root. Europe represents an opportunity to work and travel, expand one’s horizons and transcend one’s own narrow national borders. Young people’s protests over Brexit calling for a review of the vote, expressed a strong desire to belong to a Europe with shared values.

Young people’s prevailing vision of Europe is not, however, entirely reassuring or optimistic. People of our generation are asking themselves whether the promises of material and spiritual wellbeing, equality and charity between European nations is being upheld. Currently, Italy has a youth unemployment of 40%. Whether the fault for this lies with successive Italian governments or with the European Union, the result is the same: a lack of jobs translates into a lack of dignity (as both Benedict XVI and Francis pointed out). The European reaction to the economic and fiscal crisis has been slow and insufficient and ended up only deepening inequality and causing more suffering. Whilst 5 or 6 years ago, no voices objected to the European project, today, many are tempted to give up on what appears to be a futile dream. Young people are fully aware of these difficulties. As shown by voting preferences in Italy, Spain and France, the so-called “Erasmus generation” has lost some of its lustre for the European dream.

Were the future of the young people considered by those who govern Europe, this situation could be revolutionised. What sort of future lies ahead? What world will we live in? One where society is divided, unjust and full of fear, or another where society is united and reassuring towards its citizens, safeguarding the Rule of Law and looking towards a hopeful future? The latter option is only made possible by a united Europe. To save young people’s future, sacrifices are required by those currently in power. This is not about cutting down on cars and salaries. That goal has already been achieved with perhaps excessive alacrity. Rather, the real sacrifice consists in the ability to give up one’s own power for the greater good. Why, for example, has a European department of Finance not been established? We are a Union with a currency but without a State. Why does the concept of European diplomacy as such, not exist? Maintaining official diplomatic relations among countries belonging to, what is effectively, a quasi-federation, where ministers speak to each other daily, is simply a waste of money. Why is the appointment of the President of the European Commission not done through an election process? Having such an election process within the public sphere, could bring more accountability at the top and more awareness at the roots. Why is this not happening or if it is, why in such a lethargic fashion?

Those who are Christian have an answer. They understand the difference between power used for one’s own aims and power exercised as a duty of care sustaining communities. Young people are undoubtedly prepared to support the European dream, provided that it stems from a community of men and women, not from selfish interests or mere regulations. Only through shared objectives and an awareness of a joint destiny can a cultural leap be taken which Europe is calling for. A leap which can be made from one day to another because, as was said before, it is people’s choice that changes the course of history.

 

by Federico Castiglioni (Rome, 17/11/88). Holds a Degree in Political Science and is currently pursuing a PhD in European and International studies at the University of Rome III. Federico has published a number of academic and lay articles on the theme of European topicality and the role of the European Union in a globalised world. He is also responsible for External Relations in the Italian section of JEF (Young European Federalists) and acts as Italian delegate for the European Youth Forum.

Baumann “Thirst for Peace”

Baumann “Thirst for Peace”

“(…) All stages and phases of human history have one common denominator: they are characterised by inclusiveness of the other on the one hand and their exclusion on the other hand. These also define categories of identification.

“Us” being a measure of mutual hostility. The meaning of ‘we/us’ can be seen in opposition to ‘they/them’. People needed each other to feel connected and to identify themselves as belonging to a group or place. This form of self-identification differentiating oneself from the other persists throughout human history resulting in much bloodshed. Related to our own identity is our perception or concept of humanity.

The next inevitable stage in history, is one in which we now find ourselves, confronted by the call to expand our own notion of humanity.

I believe that we are required by this call to make a new step, one which consists in abolishing the pronoun ‘they’ from our vocabulary. Up until now our predecessors had something in common – an enemy. Now, facing concept of a global humanity, where do we locate the enemy?

We are surrounded by a global reality in which anything that happens, even in the most remote corner of our planet, impacts one way or another on us and on our future prospects. We all depend on each other, and in this, there is no going back (…).”

 

Zygmunt Bauman, sociologist and philosopher, opening assembly of the international meeting “Thirst for Peace”, Assisi (Italy), 18th September 2016

 

Mattarella on Europe and Young People

Mattarella on Europe and Young People

“(…) Now I would like to address the young people.

I am well-aware, that for you, work and dignity go hand in hand. I realise that today in our country there is a lack of work opportunities, and where there is work it is often insecure and underpaid. This situation affects all in the work force, and even more so you, young people.

Your generation has received more education than those who have come before you. You have both – great knowledge and great potential, and deserve every opportunity to become full protagonists of life in our society.

Many of you study or work in other European countries. This is often a great opportunity. But it must also be a matter of free choice. If you are obliged to leave Italy for lack of opportunities, this signals, that our country is suffering an unhealthy situation which needs to be remedied. Young people who make this choice are always deserving of respect and support.

When the experience gained abroad cannot be brought back to our homeland, all of society becomes impoverished.

In February 2016 in a university in New York, I met with some students from all over the world. One girl opened her contribution by affirming that she feels she is a European, as well as an Italian citizen. Experiences of young people like her who share values, ideas and culture with others show that Europe is not simply the product of treaties. A continent that for centuries was divided by hostilities, chose the path of peace and joint development.

These young people understand that the choices of our times are best faced together. They comprehend the value of peaceful European integration, all the more when faced with the tragic situation in Aleppo, the thousands of people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and the many conflicts around the world.

They do not accept the contradiction represented in a Europe that is divided and indolent, over issues such as the question of immigration.

We expect the Union to show tangible gestures of solidarity in the context of the distribution of refugees and a dignified management of repatriation for those who are not granted asylum. (…)”

Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy, address to the nation, 31st December 2016

 

New Horizons after Lund (Sweden)

New Horizons after Lund (Sweden)

An Anniversary in Communion

(…) “It brings me immense joy to be here today, bearing witness to the work of the Holy Spirit sowing unity among the followers of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit, in the words of Martin Luther, ‘calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith’. Today, in Lund and in Malmö, we are experiencing the modern miracle of the Holy Spirit as the disciples experienced it in my hometown Jerusalem two thousand years ago. […]

We thank the Triune God that we are moving from conflict to communion. Our historic gathering today is sending a message to the entire world that strongly held religious commitments can lead toward reconciliation rather than always contributing more conflict to our already troubled world. When religious people work for unity and reconciliation, religion can promote the flourishing of all human communities.”

From the address by Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, Lund, 31st October 2016

 

An Anniversary in Communion – Commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation

In an article posted in the Vatican daily newspaper Osservatore Romano on 17th January 2017, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity explains the significance of the Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation.

In the article, Koch reflects on the ecumenical prayer of Pope Francis in Lund on 31st October 2016 with Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, on the occasion of the Reformation anniversary. This historical prayer “was on the one hand received with gratitude and on the other hand faced criticism and opposition. Whilst some Catholics were concerned about a possible Protestant drift of Catholicism, some Protestants spoke of a betrayal of the Reformation”. For Cardinal Koch, however, the commemoration of this anniversary “presents itself as a welcome invitation to dialogue about that which the Catholics can learn from the Reformation and the Protestants can draw from the Catholic Church as an enrichment to their own faith”, overcoming any polemic or partial tone.

In his time, Martin Luther “did not wish for a fall out with the Catholic Church and for the establishment of a new Church. Instead his vision was that of a renewal of the whole of Christianity in the Spirit of the Gospel. (…) The fact that at the time this vision was impossible to fulfil is due partially to political factors”.

For Cardinal Koch, the occasion of the 2017 anniversary commemoration ought therefore to be understood as an “invitation to return to the original vision of Martin Luther”, a vision seen in the light of three key-concepts: gratitude for the 50 years of intense dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, repentance accompanied by purification of historical memory and hope, that a joint commemoration of the Reformation might allow for “making further steps towards a binding ecclesial communion. The latter must remain the objective of every ecumenical effort which is the reason why also the commemoration of the Reformation has this as its ultimate aim. After one hundred and fifty years of division, after having lived for many years turning against or remaining indifferent to each other, we must now learn to live with each other, linked together by strong bonds, and this we ought to do, starting today.”

(Summary of Beatriz Lauenroth)

 

 

Pope Francis’ Dream

Pope Francis’ Dream

On the occasion of the Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize in Rome on 6th 2016, Pope Francis shared his dream for Europe

(…)  With mind and heart, with hope and without vain nostalgia, like a son who rediscovers in Mother Europe his roots of life and faith, I dream of a new European humanism, one that involves “a constant work of humanization” and calls for “memory, courage, [and] a sound and humane utopian vision”.

I dream of a Europe that is young, still capable of being a mother: a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life.

I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter.

I dream of a Europe that is attentive to and concerned for the infirm and the elderly, lest they be simply set aside as useless.

I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.

I dream of a Europe where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism, where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment.

I dream of a Europe of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers, on birth rates more than rates of consumption.

I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all.

I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia. Thank you.

Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, from the Address of Pope Francis, Rome, Sala Regia Friday, 6 May 2016

For the full text go to: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/may/documents/papa-francesco_20160506_premio-carlo-magno.html