Author Archives: Beatriz Lauenroth

A fresh breeze sweeps over ‘Together for Europe’

A fresh breeze sweeps over ‘Together for Europe’

The Steering Committee of Together for Europe (TfE) met in Munich  

The Munich YMCA hosted the annual gathering of the TfE Steering Committee which was attended by 20 members and several invited guests, from 27 to 29 April 2022.

The participants experienced a wave of fresh air that was brought about by the young adults belonging to the European Network of Communities (ENC), the YMCA, the Focolare and the Schönstatt Movements: they wanted to reflect with the first generation of the network upon the future of ‘Together’. The guests carried out their task with delicacy and respect. Mária Špesová (ENC) from Slovakia said: “In TfE I see something sacred that grew in these 20 plus years. I feel invited to enter this rich experience on my tiptoes”. Also, Georges El Hage (Syndesmos): “Here I feel free to express my thoughts and people listen attentively. We are welcomed with great trust”.

Program

The program of these days included numerous spiritual inputs, prayers and a lively exchange of ideas. The recurrent topic was the war in Ukraine. During the first evening, several persons from Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia were linked via zoom to share their experiences of practical help.  An Italian participant affirmed: “We are seeing the birth of a new Europe based on solidarity”. And Zsuzsanna Klemencz (Sant’Egidio/Hungary) stated: “We ought to disarm ourselves and let others disarm us. How? By putting aside our arrogance and our hatred”. According to this Hungarian, this is what true disarmament means; this will give rise to a “peaceful people”, disarmed to win the war. Franꞔois Deloors (Sant’Egidio/Belgium) added: “This is the attitude that we strive to constantly put in practice between us, and thus, as TfE, we can offer it to Europe and the entire world”.

Porto 2022 and Timisoara 2023

“Here I feel at home” was the comment offered by Clotilde Pestana of the Schönstatt Movement. She travelled to Munich with another member of the National Committee of Portugal to help out in the preparation for the “Meeting of the Friends” scheduled for November 2022 in Porto. “Portugal has a lot to offer to Europe: openness, hospitality and a rich culture”. These are but a few of the reasons to hold the 2022 ‘Meeting of the Friends” in the Country on the far western side of Europe.

In 2023, the ‘Meeting of the Friends’ will be held in Romania, in  Timisoara. Ilona Toth of the Steering Committee updated us regarding the many conversations and meetings she had in Romania. The encounter with the Orthodox world and the multicultural reality of Eastern Europe, among others, require a detailed and in-depth preparation.

Witnesses for humanity

During the meeting it became ever more clear that TfE, faced with the great sufferings in Europe and in the world, is called to support the “incomplete” and to go down the rifts of humanity, which are injustice, hatred and war.

Thomas Römer (YMCA Munich) underlined: “Indeed, most probably we are living through a change of epoch, an epochal upheaval, so to speak. Let’s not allow evil to win, but let’s defeat it with good”.

As Römer noted, death and resurrection are entwined in the history of humanity. He was introducing the participants to the renewal of the Pact of Mutual Love, based on Jn 13, 34. With fraternal encounters with the Risen Lord in the midst, TfE continually witnesses hope for humanity.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Diego Goller / Group photo: Thomas Barthel, YMCA Munich

France: a cross-border march and the “7 Yeses”

France: a cross-border march and the “7 Yeses”

On 8 May a cross-border march from Strasbourg to Kehl

On Sunday 8 May 2022, a peace march by foot will start in Strasbourg, leading from Alsace (France) to Germany. “We want to give courage and hope to the people of Europe”.  So declares the National Committee of the Together for Europe, France. “Against the background of the many wars, we want to use our own history to remind people that reconciliation is possible.”

The march starts at 5 pm in Strasbourg and ends after 1.5 km in the Friedenskirche in Kehl with an ecumenical prayer. After the prayer – by offering a drink – there will be some more possibility for all participants to meet each other.

Download the flyer (in french):

Affiche Journée de l'Europe Strasbourg Mai 2022 (991.9 KB, 5 downloads)

 

Europe Day in Lyon, Monday 9 May 2022

An evening of testimonies and prayers around the “7 Yeses” to Europe.

Download the flyer (in french):

Journée de l'Europe Lyon 9 Mai 2022 (190.8 KB, 0 downloads)
Hopeful Initiatives

Hopeful Initiatives

Great preoccupations for peace: Europe prays and keeps on hoping

Many initiatives of prayer imploring peace are multiplying all over the Continent, starting from the Countries that are directly involved.

Our network Together for Europe, too, has rallied in this sense and has adhered to this great current of prayer for peace.

We would like to point out this initiative: an evening during which we can meet, understand better and pray. We will be linked to some Ukrainian brothers and sisters, to listen to them and pray together for peace (in German and English)

Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 7 p.m. – 8.30 p.m. (CET) via Zoom

(One needs to register at this address: mfe2021@web.de)

Beatriz Lauenroth

Francis Of Assisi (87.3 KB, 10 downloads)

Photo: Ilona Toth 

Cultivating the culture of the encounter

Cultivating the culture of the encounter

The annual meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe (TfE) 2022 will be held in Porto, Portugal  

The meeting of the Friends of TfE will be held on 10 – 12 November 2022 in Portugal. The Portuguese Friends invite the Friends from 45 movements that adhere to TfE to visit their most beautiful city of Porto, an architectural jewel, through which the river Douro (Golden) flows between the mountains and the Atlantic.

The Country outlining the Western boundaries of Europe is ready to open its heart and doors to welcome the participants of the Congress. Clotilde, a member of the Schönstatt Movement stated: “We want to promote dialogue with the aim of discovering how we, together, can re-affirm solidarity and brotherhood between all nations. And in order to know each other better we will together have a look at the history and culture of our Country”.

Why, of all places, have we chosen Porto? A smiling Ana Lúcia of the Emmanuel Community explained: “Tourists associate Porto with the famous wine Port. In 1996, Porto was the World Heritage Capital. It’s the city with many bridges, and these symbolize the links between various Countries”.

More than anything else – and this has a special interest to the Friends of TfE – there we find an ecumenical environment. “In Porto there are seven Churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lusitanian, Methodist, Lutheran, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox) that are committed to the ecumenical dialogue”. There are also contacts with the Taizé Community. “Therefore, there’s no better place to build and experience unity”, as José António e Maria Eugénia of the Focolare Movement underlined.

What values can we share there? Maria da Conceição of the Cursillos Movement affirms: “For example we can offer the rest of Europe an experience of a community in which one finds spontaneous closeness and mutual help, inspired by the Gospel”. The family is the optimal place where faith is handed down. During the November meeting there will be the possibility of meeting representatives of the younger generations and hold an in-depth exchange of ideas on how they face today’s challenges, for example, migration, ecology, etc, based on their faith.

Liliana (Verbum Dei) e Filomena (Theresian Institution) expressed the common desire: “We would like the November meeting to give us the possibility to cultivate with our friends the culture of the encounter, something close to the ideals of TfE. We would like to become ever more “’builders of hope’, as Gerhard Pross put in November 2021. Our challenges may be summed up as “reconciled diversity” (Margaret Karram)”.

Porto will surely be a step forward.

Beatriz Lauenroth

 

 

Co-founders of a modern Europe

Co-founders of a modern Europe

The European Conference on the future of the Continent

How can one bring together 446 million persons for an exchange of ideas? The European Commission and the European Parliament have launched a digital platform to allow communication between those living in Europe. The aim of the Conference is to formulate by 2022 new responses for the future of Europe and to trace the next steps toward European integration.

This Conference is a sign of the times. The future of Europe does not depend solely on politicians; indeed, more than ever before, it depends upon the responsibility of each person.

The dialogue between European citizens started on 19 April 2021 on the online platform futureu.europa.eu. All inputs are being collected, evaluated and published in 24 official languages. This applies also for discussions regarding reform proposals.

The topics are divided into 10 categories:

  • Climate change and the environment
  • Health
  • A stronger economy, social justice and employment
  • The EU in the world
  • Values and rights, rule of law, security
  • Digital transformation
  • European democracy
  • Migration
  • Education, culture, youth and sport
  • Other ideas

The Conference will go on till Spring of 2022, when a commission will synthesize the final results in a report and examines how they can be put into practice in a concrete manner.

Together for Europe invites you to participate in the Conference either as a private person, or as a group in a city or as a national Committee. In this way we can put forward ideas, desires and concrete proposals for the future of Europe based on the experience of Together, which is rich in Christian values.

For further information: futureu.europa.eu

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Pixabay.com

Knowing each other to enhance mutual love

Knowing each other to enhance mutual love

Europe Day 2021 – an online journey

Empathy, contemplation and action, ‘ora et labora’: these were but some of the key words that marked Europe Day 2021, which this year was organized by about 40 Christian Movements of the ecumenical network Together for Europe.

EUROPE NEEDS COHESION, HOPE AND INSPIRATION

During the video link-up on May 9, Europe Day, Luigino Bruni, professor of Political Economy at LUMSA (Rome), stated that “In order to build and safeguard Europe we need to celebrate its feasts!” The topic of the video link-up was “For the earth and humanity”; about 1000 persons in Italy took part. He emphasized that from time immemorial feasts have been signs of a common identity.  In this time of pandemic, Europe needs more than ever before to be united, to hope and to be open to inspirations. He also underlined: “Many times I have been inspired by Together for Europe… which is one of the most important and prophetic inspirations of the New Millennium”.

Click here to watch the event>>

DIALOGUE – THE READINESS TO WELCOME THE OTHER

About 200 European citizens from Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria were connected to Graz for a ZOOM meeting. Dr. Petra Steinmair-Pösel, Professor at the Innsbruck (Austria) University, spoke about the importance of dialogue for Europe. She insisted that dialogue is neither a discussion nor a debate, but the readiness to welcome the other. “Dialogue brings us together. From us [Christians] humanity expects compassion and solutions for the problems linked to migration, the ecology and the crisis of meaning”. From where do we start? “From each one of us: by listening and respecting the others who are different from me and, above all, to learn from them”. Click here to download the complete text>> 20210507 TfE Graz_Text Steinmair-Pösl

EUROPEANS OUGHT TO SHOW MORE SELF-ESTEEM

In France, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, president of the Robert Schumann Foundation, urged all Europeans to enhance their self esteem. He wanted to inject optimism and enthusiasm: “Europe cannot be built in a jiffy. Together, however we are strong. We have the same currency, the same common market and we are all committed to safeguard our environment. Our health system is good”.

Click here for the complete recording>>

A DIALOGUE BASED ON THE ENCYCLICAL ‘FRATELLI TUTTI’

Together for Europe in Belgium invited the bishop of Liege, Mgr Delville, and the Flemish member of the European Parliament, Cindy Franssen, for a meeting at the “Chapel for Europe”. The lively dialogue was centred on Pope Francis’ social encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’. They both underlined the importance of a new creativity: one that is contemplative and, at the same time, active.  While presenting their project #sauvonsnosaines the St Egidio youths exclaimed: “ça suffit ! Il est temps de changer !” Especially during this time of pandemic they want to provide a voice and support to the older generation.

Click here to watch the event>>

EUROPE – HOME FOR THE DIGITAL NOMANDS OF THE Y GENERATION

The young adults of Together for Europe, too, marked the May 9 Feast. In sharing the concrete actions they undertook in their respective Countries and Movements, they have shown their professional approach in various spheres of society: law (Germany), ecology (Italy, Austria), politics (Belgium, France), care of the aged (Belgium), help to refugees and social misfits (Netherlands, Greece, Germany). ‘Generation Y’ came about at the end of the last century; they consider Europe as their home, in which they can freely roam about with a computer under their arm – the so-called ‘digital nomads’. A young Dutch man said: “In Europe we have the possibility of knowing each other well and to be together, even if we are far from each other. This is important, because one can only love what one knows”.

The 2021 Feast of Europe found the support of the prayers of many. The young people met for an hour: “My Europe – We pray for Europe”. In the Czech Republic, the Schoenstatt Movement, the St Egidio Community and the Focolare Movement held a prayer novena in preparation for May 9. In Switzerland, too, where May 9 has no special significance, Christians belonging to various Movements have organized a prayer evening to ask God for strength and mercy in this difficult time of a global pandemic. Also, an ecumenical prayer service based on the ‘7 Yeses’ was held at the Gospel House in Klagenfurt (Austria).

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Ursula Haaf (©Together for Europe)

A strong sign of hope during the Pandemic

A strong sign of hope during the Pandemic

Toward Europe Day 2021

Together for Europe (TfE) will hold various events between May 7 and 9. Jurists, theologians and MEP’s, together with students and adults from various faculties will discuss the present situation of our Continent, while suggesting concrete solutions for the problems that the world is presently facing.

Between May 7 and 9, more than 50 Christian Communities and Movement will share their initiatives in favour of their brothers and sisters in need: by enhancing awareness through discussions, prayer links across Europe, as well as concrete actions such as those regarding the environment (for example, rubbish collection to protect the environment). Indeed, as a member of the preparatory group in Belgium put it: “We want to show the beauty of the Christian message in a concrete way!”

In short video clips young people and young adults of diverse Movements, Communities and from different countries, gif their vision of Europe: “My Europe”>> and on 9 May they will come together for prayer>>. Moreover, in a webinar young people explored the Christian roots of ‘taking care’>>

TfE in Italy>> will hold an interesting online symposium: “For the Earth and Humanity”.

The Austrian group, from Graz>>, will link up with Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy to favour a better acquaintance by holding a deep “conversation that unites us all”.

In the “Chapel for Europe”, Brussels>>, 13 Christian Movements of TfE will offer a common reflection regarding the political and ecclesial spheres.

The conference in France>> will be addressed by the President of the Robert Schuman Foundation.

Young people and adults will gather to discuss various topics: in the Netherlands >>,  Germany>>Czech Republic>> and Switzerland.

Collected by Beatriz Lauenroth

An event in the Chapel for Europe

An event in the Chapel for Europe

To mark Europe Day, various Movements of Together for Europe are preparing an event that will be held in the Chapel for Europe, Brussels, on May 8, 2021, from 4 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Here you can watch the event again on youtube: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=01tvdG6uB7c

Here you can find the texts in French>>  and Dutch>> 

The theme will be “Unity and Reconciliation”.

The programme includes a contribution by Mgr Delville, Bishop of Liège, and another by Cindy Franssen, a Belgian MEP. They will take an in-depth look at some aspects of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli tutti.

Several Communities and Movements will present various initiatives, especially those in favour of our Belgian needy brothers and sisters. “We want to highlight the beauty of the Christian message!”: this is how a member of the preparatory put it.

The third part will be spent in prayer.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Download the invitation (available in French and Dutch)

Invitation-10 FR (1.7 MB, 62 downloads)
Invitation-10 NL (1.2 MB, 55 downloads)

Photo: Wikipedia, author: ©Fabre

9th of May in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands on 9th of May we will attempt to answer the following questions during a video conference:

Why was Europe Day initiated?
Where is Europe’s heart?
What is Europe’s current need?

 

We will tackle these topics amongst others. We will be joined by Jeff Fountain professor from the Schuman Centre for European Studies in Amsterdam.

To register please write to beatriz.lauenroth@together4europe.org

Beatriz Lauenroth, Dutch MfE Team

Crossing Europe in one day

Living May 9, 2020, online: Due to Covid-19, all the events planned for the Europe Day, which involved Together for Europe were held online. Together for Europe was in contact with persons from all over the Continent through discussions, conferences, prayers and singing.

Italy

In Italy, more than 900 Friends of Together from all over the Country joined in a Zoom conference. The theme was: “Integral ecology: a sustainable utopia for Europe”; two keynote speeches dealt with how to work for the planet’s better present and an even better future by respecting nature and persons. The meeting was concluded with an ecumenical prayer with representatives of numerous Churches and Communities, and with the renewal of the ‘pact’ of mutual love.

The Netherlands

Two conferences, one based in Utrecht and another in Amsterdam, were held in The Netherlands. “Utrecht in Dialogue” and “Pax” provided small online groups with food for thought during their lively discussions regarding ideas about Europe. Many young people took part.

The ‘Schuman Centre’ discussed the present situation of the Continent. 70 years ago, Robert Schuman announced his plan to start laying the foundations for a European Home embracing 500 million inhabitants. Jeff Fountain, the founder of the ‘Schuman Centre’, which was established ten years ago, concluded the discussion with an unusual form of prayer. He sang in English on the tune of “Ode of joy”, the Europahymnus, a rewritten interpretation: “With the vision now before us of a true community / Of all European peoples, rich in our diversiy / Let us pray and work together for our solidarity / Peace, equality and freedom, rooted in your charity.

Austria and Eastern Europe

The City of Graz was linked to six Countries for an exchange of lived out experiences. The Friends of Together in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Northern Italy shared how they were living the Covid-19 crisis in the spirit of mutual support. At the end, Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl thanked the participants for their witnessing as an international community, and concluded saying: “In spite of our differences and separations, through the cross we are all united one to the other”.

Germany

The YMCA of Esslingen-Stuttgart thought that at the planned prayer meeting, only locals would participate. However, when they moved the event online, the Friends of Together were linked to other Movements in diverse German, Italian and Dutch cities. Indeed, for all of them the evening turned out to be a true experience of Togetherness.

France

In France there were 34 link-ups scattered in Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Tours that formed a national network that manifested the diversities between the groups, and, at the same time, a profound mutual esteem. Gérard Testard (Efesia) encouraged the participants to make the ‘French voice’ ever more present in Europe. One of the participants concluded: “It was a moment of fraternity and trust in Europe that filled us all with a new hope”.

Beatriz Lauenroth

The events will be available online in the next few days on:

Italy: facebook.com/Insiemepereuropa.roma>>
Amsterdam : facebook schuman centre>>

Young people, be responsible

Young people, be responsible

Europe for the future – Future for Europe. František Talíř is 27; when he speaks about democracy and reforms, his enthusiasm is contagious.  

“Since 1989, we have experienced the freshness of democracy and freedom even in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Joining the EU as well as travelling and working in other Countries bear witness to this. It must be borne in mind, nevertheless, that the Countries that used to form part of the Eastern Block have a different mentality and culture than that of the Western European ones. Co-habitation is still marked by tensions, and, now, Covid-19 has shown that our privileges are not that evident”.

František is a historian and much involved in politics. At the last elections, his party chose him as a candidate for the European Parliament in Brussels, and in the next regional elections he will be the main candidate for the Christian Democratic Union of Slovakia.

“Above all, we young people ought to be interested in what happens in Europe and in the world, and then take initiatives, for example, to vote or to be active in a political party. It’s not democracy that needs to be changed, but the persons who shape democracy”. According to František, the journey is a long one; however, what is important is to start with one’s self, and not try unloading one’s responsibility on others. “I do not subscribe to all that Fridays for Future entails. Nevertheless, the young people succeeded to highlight a problem and to elicit a reaction from persons of all generations”.

František Talíř invites all persons to be aware of their roots in order to give a future to Europe. “I’ve read what the Father Founders of Europe wrote. Adenauer, De Gasperi and Schuman faced by far greater difficulties following the Second World War than the ones we are facing today. And yet, together, they did great things”.

Beatriz Lauenroth

František Talíř took part in the meeting of  ‘Friends ofTogether for Europe’ that was held in Prague in 2018.

The entire interview of František Talíř with Maria Motykova is available (In Czech, Slovak and German) on: Podcast Europa per il futuro – Futuro per l’Europa

 

 

“Online Dialogue Europe” 9 May 2020

“Online Dialogue Europe” 9 May 2020

On the 9th of May we will celebrate Europe Day and through this online dialogue we will discuss the EU project: after 75 years of peace within the EU, how do we move forward?

Date: Saturday, May 9, 2020,  Europe Day
Time: 2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.

Once you register on  //www.utrechtindialoog.nl/bijeenkomsten/europa/

you will receive an email with the link and the password that will allow you to participate. Participation is free of charge.

Languages: Dutch and English

It’s been 70 years since the Schuman Declaration and we have enjoyed 75 years of peace in Europe. What about the future?

The European Union, which embraces 513 million inhabitants and a great diversity of Countries, cultures and identities, is a unique project in the history of humanity. It is the greatest peace project that followed the Second World War. Robert Schuman once said: “The European co-operation and integration could not, and must not, be limited to an economic and technical endeavour: it needs a soul, an awareness of its historical roots and its present and future responsibility, together with a political will to serve the common human ideal”. Thirty years ago, in 1989, we witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall: it was a promising event, one that took us all, Easterners and Westerners, by surprise. A wave of euphoria swept over all Europe: peace in Europe, peace for all!

In 2020, 70 years since the Schuman Declaration, we will discuss the development of this human project and, above all, how to keep on making it better. We will speak about culture and values in Europe: how do we deal with our differences and what do we have in common? Which are our historical roots? What kind of future do we desire for Europe? Which are the main challenges that Europe must face? How can we work together to promote a stable peace in Europe, and which values are indispensible for this objective? We will try to answer these questions during our small groups’ discussions.

Program
2.00 p.m. Interactive introduction of the theme
2.15 p.m. Video by PAX: ‘Four future scenarios for Europe in 2040’
2.20 p.m. Dialogue at the ‘tables’ (parallel session with groups’ discussion)
3:20 p.m. Plenary session to gather feedback from the dialogue sessions

Together for Europe in the Netherlands actively supports this initiative, organized by  Pax voor vrede en Comité Europadag Utrecht. Hope to see you!

Beatriz Lauenroth 

 

Photos of people: ©Canva

An epochal challenge for Europe

An epochal challenge for Europe

Letters from Together for Europe to the E.U. and the Vatican

It is a crucial moment for Europe and the European Union, requiring concerted action. For this reason Together for Europe has written to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council (David Sassoli, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel) to thank them for their work, and to support them in their decisions in the fight against Covid-19.

To quote from the letter: “… at this time, we want to work and pray for the whole of Europe and for solidarity in Europe. We are convinced that Europe’s future – and that of the world – has be worked out together. Even now Europe can lead by example. And in the midst of the enormous challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we ask you not to forget the refugees and asylum seekers at the borders of the European Union. Please take timely measures to help and – as far as possible – welcome those people.”

Another letter has been sent to Pope Francis. On Easter Sunday, he specifically invited the world to face the pandemic together. The Steering Committee of Together for Europe assured the Holy Father of their support and commitment. “In particular, we feel challenged by your special appeal to the European Union to find a positive way forward in this epochal challenge, knowing full well that «not only its future, but that of the whole world could depend on it». Furthermore, “We firmly support your call and renew our commitment in many parts of Europe to   give further proof of solidarity also by resorting to alternative solutions.”

Beatriz Lauenroth

 

Photo Von der Leyen / Sassoli:  © European Union 2019 – Source: EP / CC BY  /
Photo Michel:  Belgian Federal Government //premier.fgov.be/nl/biografie
Photo Pope Francis: //www.korea.net/
Following in the Founding Fathers’ footsteps

Following in the Founding Fathers’ footsteps

23 February 2020: Intergenerational Day in Brussels. 51 European citizens  – young and old – members of two diverse Communities, which are part of the network Together for Europe, share a “discovery tour” of significant places.

Agnès Grenier writes from Brussels:

“During the Ottmaring meeting that marked the 20th anniversary of Together for Europe, I came to know Pierpaolo of the Pope John XXIII Community. Pierpaolo has recently asked me to help organize a guided visit to our city for a group of 51 young and older persons from all Europe. Philippe and I, members of the Focolare Movement, immediately accepted to act as guides. In spite of the rainy and cold weather, we did our best to help our new friends discover some aspects of the European realities present in the Belgian Capital City.

For example, in the Parlamentarium we could follow the various stages of the integration of Europe; we also saw how the European Parliament functions and understood better the work that the MEPs carry out to face today’s challenges. We were all struck by the complexity of this structure and we understood how great and fundamental the intuition of the Founding Father of the European Union was to build new relationships of collaboration and trust between the various European Nations.

We then visited the Grande Place/Grote Markt, the historical City centre of Brussels. For many centuries it was the venue of political meetings, court sittings, cultural and religious festival, and even where capital punishments were carried out.

At the end of the day we felt enriched with so much history. Above all, however, we felt that the bonds that link the Focolare Movement and the Pope John XXIII Community have been strengthened: we felt as if we were one family. Together, we have enlivened a small expression of the European Union!”

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: ©Matteo Santini; Photo Planetarium: Wikipedia

“It was like Easter”

Larisa Musina is an Orthodox Christian and she is the pro-rector of the Educational Institute ‘St Fileret’. Last November, Larisa took part in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Together for Europe at Augsburg (Germany) representing the ‘Orthodox Transfiguration Brotherhood’.

During the Meeting, we also remembered the historical signing of the ‘Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’ of October 30, 1999; that same day the ecumenical network TfE was born as a concrete response to the thirst for unity felt by all Christians.

Following are some excerpts of the interview Larisa Musina gave to Oleg Glogolev on her return to Moscow.

“The Lutheran Bishop Christian Krause participated at this Meeting; he is one of the two signatories of the 1999 Declaration since he was the President of the World Lutheran Federation. He spoke about two important things: first, that the road leading to the Declaration was far from easy. Many great efforts were needed so that the XXth century may end without leaving such a significant division for future generations. Secondly, Bishop Krause expressed his great appreciation for the work carried out by the ecclesial Movements and Communities.

This dialogue and the associated processes originated, and are still developing, within the context of renewal of the ecclesiastic life. The aim is to maintain the authenticity of the Christian Church, while developing her capacity to fulfil her own vocation in the world. It’s interesting to note that it is the ecclesial Movements that are at the forefront of this initiative.”

Commenting upon the solemn conclusive evening, Larisa said: “In the evening we prayed together in the Lutheran church of St Anne, the same Church where the Declaration was signed. This was followed by candle-lit procession to the nearby square. We thanked God for his gifts, including the gift of Christian unity, of which many shared their experience. Then, still holding our lit candles, we walked toward the city. It was like Easter.”

The participants went back home with the light of the Risen One in their heart, ready to take God to the Nations.

Edited by Beatriz Lauenroth

Source: //psmb.ru/a/eto-bylo-kak-na-paskhu.html

 

 

Europe’s splendour is its people

Preparing the ground for reconciliation.

Walter Kriechbaum is an Evangelical Pastor and secretary of the YMCA of Bavaria. He has a soft spot for Europe and takes reconciliation seriously. To this end he has established friendships even in Poland and Ukraine within the international and ecumenical network Together for Europe

As a German, in my travels in Eastern Europe I’m often reminded of the historical cruelties. Once, while in the company of Polish friends, I found myself speechless at Lutsk (Ukraine), the place that commemorates the thousands of Poles that were mercilessly murdered. The same thing happened in a cemetery in the middle of one of the greatest battle fields of World War Two. All of a sudden, my friends asked me, a German and a member of the Evangelical Church, to pray upon the dead and ask for forgiveness and peace for our peoples of Europe”. Walter Kriechbaum experienced that living reconciliation together may entail, among other things, journeying with others along the pathway of affliction, taking upon oneself the sufferings of the others. Ecumenical reconciliation entails evaluating the gifts of the others and creating space for their development. Walter considers the suffering of an incomplete unity as a seed for the future.

Reconciliation does not require proportional representation

Munich 2016: During an ecumenical prayer meeting for the unity of Europe organized by Poles and Germans together, some twenty Russians entered the church unexpectedly. Water was leading the prayers together with a Polish friend, and for an instant was at a loss how to manage the new situation. Then he asked one from the Russian group to come forward and pronounce a prayer. At the end the participants – Catholics, Protestants, members of the Free Churches and Russian Orthodox – received a blessing from a Polish priest of the Schoenstatt Movement. Walter: “I learned that ecumenical reconciliation does not require either proportionality or deciding who is right. Jesus Christ dwells in the other’s heart and in a fantastic way he transforms diversity into a complementary, without any cancellations”.

Reconciliation requires trust

During his many travels in Eastern Europe Walter continues to weave a friendship net:  “This, however, demands patience and perseverance. Sometimes it takes years to eliminate distrust. I have understood that the ecumenical experience “in the periphery” means feeling close and far away at the same time, and to be able to tolerate tension. When all of us turn our gaze upon Jesus, an interior closeness slowly develops. This cannot be forced; it is God’s work”. Walter is convinced that the mutual trust that ensues allows persons to speak freely and to experience an interior freedom.

Reconciliation requires that we be detached

According to Walter “reconciliation and ecumenical harmony cannot be organized. We ought to be detached all the time, and keep on entering into the Kairos of God. Only he knows the right time”. Nevertheless, we may prepare for this. “Together we will succeed to make Europe to shine. Its splendour is its people that are journeying toward reconciliation”.  Walter is convinced of this and lives for it – starting anew each day.

Beatriz Lauenroth

The Town Hall of Augsburg – a historical place

20th anniversary of Together for Europe, 7 – 9.11.2019 at Ottmaring and Augsburg

In 2019 Together for Europe returns to Germany: to the ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring/Augsburg where it all started back in 1999. Leaders and representatives of various Movements and Communities belonging to the Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and the Free Churches will meet at a European level to take stock of the situation and plan for the future.

On Friday November 8, 2019 an official reception for the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ will take place at the Town Hall of Augsburg. In This historical place the City wants to honour this international initiative.

The ‘Golden Hall’

The heart of the Town Hall of Augsburg is the ‘Golden Hall’, which was built between 1615 and 1620 by Elias Holl. In virtue of its impressive doorways, paintings and the magnificent lacunar ceiling, the ‘Golden Hall’ was immediately hailed as an apex of internal artistic design. The Hall was so named because of the many golden ornaments that adorn the interior.

Augustan Peace Prize – The Winner of the Inter-Confessional Prize

In the “Golden Hall’, in 1988, on the Feast day of the Augustan Peace, Chiara Lubich was honoured with the Prize for Peace for her commitment in the ecumenical field on a world-wide level.  The prize, which exists since 1985, honours those leading personalities who have given a special contribution toward an open and peaceful cohabitation of culture and religions. Among others it was granted to Rabbi Levinson, Pope Schenuda III of the Coptic Church, the former German Federal President, Richard von Weizsäcker and the former Head of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2017, this prestigious honour was given to the General Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation, Martin Junge.

Oberer Fletz

On the floor under the ‘Golden Hall’ there is the historical ‘Oberer Fletz’ – a hall with a characteristic style where the Town Council holds its meetings. That is where, on November 9, 2019, the participants of the annual meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ will converge.

Beatriz Lauenroth