Together for Europe 1999-2019 – An interview with Pál Tóth
The initiative Together for Europe turns 20. For the occasion, we have put two questions to Pál Tóth, who teaches at the University Institute ‘Sophia’ in Loppiano (Florence). We specifically asked about the initiative itself and how does Together for Europe respond to today’s challenges.
- Together for Europe was born in 1999. How does this free alliance of Christian Communities and Movements differ from other groups that are presently working for Europe? What is its characteristic?
The acceptance of otherness, and, as a consequence, of pluralism, is one of the achievements of Western culture. This conviction is rooted in the Biblical faith that each one of us is an unrepeatable creature of God, who has a loving plan for each one of us. This development, however, presented the societies with Christian roots with a new challenge: how are they supposed to manage this rich diversity? How is the necessary unity to act achieved? Today, in an era of global challenges, this issue has become really urgent. Presently the problems are no longer solely local; indeed we have to deal with transversal challenges like climate change, migration, poverty, unbridled capitalism, etc.. In order to respond adequately to these challenges, we need to have a more efficacious collaboration on a global level. In my opinion, Europe, which for centuries has elaborated innovative ideas, may, or rather, ought to play a crucial role in this process.
I’m convinced that the Christian Churches have a special resource to offer in the bringing about a unity which does not oppress, but, on the contrary, appreciates diversities. This ability may be seen in the initiative Together for Europe. The Churches themselves, too, are enriched with pluralism; however, it is a pluralism of the various charisms and gifts, and it is a pluralism that is able to bring about unity. Why? Because at the root of every true Charism there is a word of God. The charisms are different from one another, but the root of all of them is the Word of God, all summed up in the New Commandment: Love one another. This is their common foundation, and one that provides a solid base for unity and collaboration. In fact, Together for Europe bases its activities on the “Pact of mutual love” endorsed by the representatives of the diverse Movements and Communities present in our Continent.
Also, we need to mention the men and women who were the pioneers of Together. They have dedicated themselves completely to this initiative for 20 years. Sure, from a human perspective, they are talented persons who have been faithful to their commitment. But I want to add something: in that long-past 1999, they were touched by a strong light, by the Divine. They intuitively understood that it is through a lived-out unity that we may build a different world, a new Europe. That ‘foundation’ experience marked them with a certainty based on unity in diversity, which they now seek to hand down to others. They know that the dreams and aspirations which they once had have today become a necessity for survival. Chiara Lubich, co-founder of Together for Europe affirmed: “Everything depends on the charisms. We need to discover them”.
- What does Together for Europe need to do to enhance its visibility?
There are more than 300 Movements and Communities involved in Together for Europe, and as such they already offer a visible witness of collaboration and unity. Besides the declaration of common values, and the praying together on special occasions, one may see what they already do together to respond to the above-mentioned challenges. Today, what gains visibility are common actions, which are then narrated in such a way as to create adhesion and sharing. Together for Europe ought to develop gradually this aspect by having more projects of common actions.
One project could be a permanent platform for dialogue between Eastern and Western Countries. The 2017 Vienna meeting of Together made a first step. Representatives from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Russia started a dialogue with the Western Countries. The commitment (and the effort) to go beyond the differences and the critical situations, which were often obstacles in the way of mutual understanding between East and West, was quite evident. This path could lead to a collaboration regarding diverse issues, like the concept of Nation, State-Church relations, human rights, the demands of unity and truth, etc..
Through various projects on an ecclesial, political, economic and civil kevel, Together for Europe is forming an ever increasing network of citizens committed to a “Christian revival of Europe”, where criticism is put aside and the focus is upon the growth of everyone, all together.
Beatriz Lauenroth, Mariënkroon (Netherlands)