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Live from Munich – 2nd Day

“Europe is going through the dark night of its own principles, the dark night of its dreams. (…) We believe Together for Europe is something which can inspire individuals or associations in their commitment to a free, reconciled, democratic, supportive and fraternal Europe”. Steffen Kern of the Evangelical Confederation of Wuerttemberg continues the reflection on Europe and hope: “Why should we continue to hope as Christians?”. In Stuttgart we have opened the “House of Hope” that welcomes women in trouble and lonely people. We want to witness our commitment that God never abandons anyone”. Thomas Romer (YMCA, Munich) explains that the strength of our continent is Christ and his Gospel: “Jesus is there even in the storms: we need to have faith. He climbed onto the boat to save us”.

This afternoon the Congress opened its doors to dialogue, confrontation and projects. The round table on “Christians and Muslims in dialogue” focused on the need to get to know each other, meet and work together on social and cultural challenges. Pasquale Ferrara, the new Italian Ambassador in Algiers, stressed that dialogue does not happen among cultures or religions, but among people: “We need to be more concrete, to stick to reality”.

Imam Baztami invited everybody to go out of our confort zones and meet different people. Many ideas and projects emerged from the debate among th philosopher of religions Beate Beckmann-Zoeller, dr. Thomas French, the Evangelical pastor Amberg and the french Bishop Michel Dubost. “The remedy to the division between Christians and Muslims is “otherness”, which means to consider the other as a brother, a sister”, said Gérard Testard of Efesia (France).

At the round table “Towards sustainability in Europe” card. Turkson, the environmental engineer Daniel Renzi, Hans-Hermann Böhm, and other experts invited to follow Pope Francis’ invitation to have a serious debate on climate change and ecological issues. Card. Turks concluded that ”sciences and religions should talk together, religions should talk together, and all of them should give their contribute to society together!”.
“Martyrdom, a painful witness of Christians today” is the title of another round table. Michael Brand, member of the Bundestag was present. Concerning the present european situation, he recalled a phrase from St. Boniface: “We do not want to be like dumb dogs”. “Personally I think that, if the terrorist threat comes from abroad – he said – inside our borders we are attacked by an aggressive secularism. I do not fear Islamization of Europe,rather the decrease of Christian faith”.

Live from Munich – 1st Day

Encounter, reconciliation, future. These are the words of the 4th international edition of Together for Europe. Since 1999 more than 300 Christian Movements have made a path of reconciliation, mutual understanding and unity from 1999 and 200 of them are present here, at the CircusKrone in Munich from june 30 to july 2, 2016. Today 1.700 people from 40 countries arrived for the Congress of the representatives of the different Movements wishing to give their contribution to today’s european challenges with the Christian values. This morning opening session was entitled: “The Holy Spirit Works in our Time”.

Martin Wagner (YMCA Munich) one of the moderators welcomed everybody: “Reconciliation is our keyword, we need it, we want to be ambassadors of reconciliation: we already experienced it. This is our future. Our goals are sharing, working together for unity and above all to give our contribution as christians to all the challenges Europe is facing today”. Then Gerhard Pross (YMCA Esslingen) addressed the 1700 participants: “God wants us to walk together towards unity”. And card. Walter Kasper (Catholich Church): “500 years of division is enough: we have a commitment to unity, otherwise we betray Jesus. The unity of our Churches is now even more important considering that European unity is in danger”. Bishop Krause (Evangelical Church): in 2007 we, christian movements, committed ourselves for “7 Yeses” and subscribed to the Manifesto for a united Europe: we had a dream, we prayed and hoped and God answered”. And Sr. Lioba Ruprecht: “We need to build the culture of alliance”. Hartmud Steeb of the Evangelical Alliance: “In the ’90ies we started a common dialogue; God has prayed for our unity: encounter, hope and future are words that will accompany us in the next days”.

The afternoon was dedicated to 19 forums on social responsibility, integration, economy, ecumenism, pastoral challenges, youth and Europe, marriage and family, reconciliation, evangelization today, and many others. Movements and communities have shared experiences, activities and projects, but also faith witnesses. “The cost and reward of unity, overcoming frictions and conflicts” was well attended and card. Walter Kasper said that one of the main need in the ecumenical movement is forgiveness and reconciliation”. “Reconciliation needs hard work”, said Walter Kriechbaum of YMCA Munich, “through reconciliation we will be healed; through reconciliation, we become messengers of unity.”

Patriarch Bartholomew meets “Together for Europe”

Patriarch Bartholomew meets “Together for Europe”

On 25 November, at the monastery of Ayatrìada on the island of Halki, Patriarch Bartholomew met members of the “Together for Europe” Steering Committee. Their meeting took place during an ecumenical gathering of Bishops organized by the Focolare Movement.
The Patriarch, accompanied by Metropolitan Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, met Maria Voce, Gerhard Pross and Diego Goller. During the half hour he asked about preparations for the Munich event in 2016, and expressed his appreciation for both the event and its theme. He is unable to be present, because of the Holy Pan-Orthodox Synod in Constantinople at Pentecost 2016. He will however, send a personal representative to Munich with a video message for the event.

Ecumenical network “Together for Europe“calls for Prayer and Commitment for Peace and Love of Neighbour.

Ecumenical network “Together for Europe“calls for Prayer and Commitment for Peace and Love of Neighbour.

100 leading delegates of the network “Together for Europe” were gathering from 12th to 14th November. Together they publish the following statement in answer to the terror attacks in Paris.

“With dismay we heard of the dramatic attacks in Paris. We were together in Marienkroon in the Netherlands, more than 100 delegates from different Christian movements and communities coming from 13 European countries and different confessions and churches.

For us Europe is the continent in which people from all different cultures and religious varieties are welcome and should live united in freedom and peace.
We interrupted our work in order to be silent and to pray together. The events compel us to commit ourselves ever more intensely for Europe’s values. Our Christian faith too calls and obliges us to this.
We feel with the families of the victims and are united in solidarity with the politicians who have to take grave decisions in these days.
We live as friends in Europe and experience a deep closeness with the French people. We pledge to pray for peace more than ever and to live for it, to spread it wherever we are.
We want to live in mutual love and strengthen the powers of trust even more. With a humane face and faithfulness to its values Europe will have a common future.

Visit to Evangelical Bishop Dr. Frank O. July

In mid October some of the leaders responsible for Together for Europe visited Bishop Dr. Frank O. July, Vice-president of the Lutheran World Federation. The meeting was characterised by an extremely cordial atmosphere.

Fr. Heinrich Walter (Schoenstatt), Diego Goller (Focolare Movement), Pastor Thomas Römer (YMCA Munich), Sr. Anna-Maria aus der Wiesche (Christusbruderschaft Selbitz) and Gerhard Pross (YMCA Esslingen) were very pleased with the open dialogue that took place. Gerhard Pross sums up: “We were able to discuss issues related to the reconciliation between Churches and steps on the journey to unity. Encounters such as this are moments of light and are instrumental and effective in the preparation of our upcoming Event in June and July in Munich”.

The brochure of Together for Europe 2016 in the hands of Pope Francis

The brochure of Together for Europe 2016 in the hands of Pope Francis

“In recent months we have been looking for ways to tell Pope Francis more about our network called “Together for Europe “. We wanted to invite him to contribute via video to the public rally on 02/07/2016 at the Karlsplatz in Munich.

Then, when it became clear that on 3 September I would be presented with the opportunity to briefly speak to him during a private audience in occasion of the General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Community, I gladly accepted. The day before I had received the freshly printed brochure in Italian from the International Secretariat of “Together for Europe” in Rocca di Papa.

I knew that an audience should not be used for advertising purposes, but I took courage and explained our plans to Pope Francis in Spanish. I shared with him how our ‘Together’ had begun 15 years ago and had proceeded under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I explained which movements take part and mentioned its ecumenical character and that we wondered if he would record a video to be shown at the rally. He listened very attentively, and as though he wanted to acknowledge what he heard, then said with a grin: “Shall we do it straight away ?!” Immediately afterwards I got a chance to speak to his secretary, Archbishop Gänswein, and learned that they know about our network and that we should formally present our request again in writing in few months time. “

by P. Heinrich Walter, Schönstatt

Together for Europe – an information evening in Montevideo

Together for Europe – an information evening in Montevideo

On September 7, 2015, at the invitation of the YMCA Montevideo (Uruguay) an open information evening was held about Together for Europe . Representatives from 10 different churches and members of the Focolare Movement and the YMCA accepted the invitation. Gerhard Pross, who happened to be in South America, gave a lively report with many inspiring examples on how the ‘Together ‘ is lived. The “Five Keys to Unity” received special attention and were picked up upon in subsequent discussion. The reception which followed the talks provided participants with an excellent opportunity to share their experiences. Some of them were tossing the idea if it might be possible to start this ‘Together’ also in South America. The encounter with Gerhard Pross encouraged those present to take steps in this direction.

Citation for the European Prize of St. Ulrich to Together for Europe

Citation for the European Prize of St. Ulrich to Together for Europe

Aware of the rich and age-old cultural history of our Bavarian-Swabian region, the province and the city of Dillingen on the Danube have established the “European Foundation of St. Ulrich.”

Through this Foundation, the province and the city of Dillingen on the Danube, the birthplace of St. Ulrich, aim to further European unity in the Christian spirit.

Since 1993, the 1,000th anniversary of the canonization of Bishop St. Ulrich, a figure of great importance for Germany and for Europe, the European Prize of St. Ulrich is awarded regularly to initiatives or institutions which have distinguished themselves by extraordinary merits in the area of European unity, in the political, ecclesiastical, scientific, cultural, economic and social fields.

“Building a Christian Europe” is the duty of all those who, on the basis of the cultural and artistic heritage and core values, desire to contribute to the future of our history. Great witnesses of the faith of our country, such as Bishop Ulrich, Albert the Great, Margarete Ebner, Peter Canisius, Johann Michael Sailer, Johann Ev.Wagner and Dominikus Ringeisen have given us outstanding examples.

The commitment of the international network of Together for Europe is driven by the vision of reconciled unity in diversity. The Movements and Christian communities which are part of it do not want to standardize the confessional or national identities, but together are committed to safeguarding and promoting the treasure of the Christian heritage in Europe. They build bridges in Europe taking steps towards reconciliation and weaving friendships beyond the most various borders. In this way, a current of hope inspired by the Gospel has been born, which involves men and women who are committed for the good of society. Recognizing these extraordinary merits, the European Foundation of St. Ulrich awarded the 2014 European Award of St. Ulrich to the network of Together for Europe, to which 300 Christian Movements and Communities belong.

Leo Schrell Frank Kunz Dr. Konrad Zdarsa

In Planina (Slovenia) friends of Together for Europe

In Planina (Slovenia) friends of Together for Europe

Excerpts from an update letter about their annual meeting and promotion of a European Event in 2016 in Munich, Germany.

In Planina, Slovenia, from November 13 to 15, 2014, 108 representatives of 41 Movements and Communities from 14 Nations have experienced an intense and constructive meeting where it was felt a renewed passion to collaborate on a project for a more united Europe.

Main theme of the meeting was the organization of an Event in Munich (Germany), June 30 to July 2, 2016, consisting of two parts: the Congress in Zirkus-Krone-Bau and the Outdoor Rally in a large square. Everybody felt the importance of feeling immediately engaged, so that the Outdoor Rally might be the fruit of life in the cities, marked by a significantly large participation.

The main focus of the Event should be a noteworthy act of reconciliation, expression of a strong yearning for unity. Together for Europe can be a driver in this direction, on account of the ongoing multiple experiences lived throughout the Continent, particularly between people of different Churches. For this reason, the 2016 Event could also be seen as a milestone in the journey towards 2017 (500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation), offering a prophetic sign of a reconciled and united Europe.

The Congress

Will take place from Thursday June 30 to July 1, 2016 in Zirkus-Krone-Bau in Munich, 2,500 seats. The leaders of about 300 Movements, which adhere to Together for Europe, are invited to attend.

The Congress wants to be a privileged occasion to renew the thrust of our Movements and Communities to work for a more harmonious, respectful and supportive Europe, developing projects which will be donated in the square Rally, on July 2.

The Congress will be held in plenary, along with about 15 – 20 forums to allow for dialogue among Movements and Communities about current issues, as well as round tables which will deal with some of the challenges posed by our society, with the help of “experts” from the cultural, political, sports, artistic worlds, etc…

The Outdoor Rally

Will take place on July 2, 2016, in a large square in the Munich centre. The idea is to gather in the morning according to language groups, in various nearby Churches and Institutions, and then march all towards the square around 11.30 am, where we will carry on with the main program (about 90 minutes). This will include short speeches, symbolic gestures, and testimonies. After a break for lunch, we will continue with a “creative program” of about two hours.

On the basis of the experiences of sharing and collaboration lived in the midst of sectarian and nationalistic tendencies present nowadays across Europe, we wish to offer an example of unity in diversity, by offering mainly testimonies of reconciliation, fruits of our daily experiences, lived in our own Communities together with other Movements present in various cities: experiences of “reconciled cultures” apt to build the future in a responsible way.

We would like to involve all European Nations (from North to South, from East to West), the Churches and the different generations. With this goal in mind, we invite everybody not to let any “inspiration” drop aside and put to good fruition ideas and personal acquaintances.

In order to develop and implement these lines, it is vital that until 2016 relations in all cities where Together for Europe is present become stronger. Concretely, we must support a path of reconciliation in the cities, accompanied by a journey of prayer. It is important to be resolved to go to Munich not to receive, but to give. Each bringing his own, it will be the whole that will make possible for the European conscience to recover and grow. In a dynamic reality, we want to give perspective to a European dimension not closed in itself, but open to others.

With the intent to prepare the whole Event together, admin@together4europe.org is at everybody’s disposal to furnish any information, material, etc. that might be needed, as well to receive any suggestions about the form and content of the Event.

Moreover, whoever wishes to also help cover the organization costs can make wire transfers to the account of Together for Europe using the following data:
IBAN code: IT37O0335901600100000113319; SWIFT: BCITITMX771
Country: Italy; Bank name: Banca Prossima; Account owner: PAMOM
Transfer title: “Contribution to the Event Munich 2016”.

A brochure in various languages (diversified according to the needs of the countries) is being worked on, as we aim to reach a significant participation, entrusted to each one’s initiative.

Timely updates and practical information for participation in the Outdoor Rally can be found on this site.

In Loppiano: “TOWARDS AN ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON GOOD”

In Loppiano: “TOWARDS AN ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON GOOD”

From March 6 to 8, Christian Movements of “Together for Europe” held a congress In Loppiano – Incisa Val d’Arno (near Florence), aimed at giving a soul to the Europe of markets and economy. For the approximately 100 participants from various countries of Europe, it was an opportunity to share experiences and ideas, and to offer a prophetic voice of hope.

Among entrepreneurs, students and scholars, from 12 different communities, the main supporters of the initiative were members of the Focolare Movement, the YMCA in Munich, the Vineyard Community in Brussels, the Schoenstatt Movement in Switzerland, the Pope John XXIII Community, and the Nomadelfia Community in Tuscany

Europe continues to struggle with economic uncertainty that poses severe challenges for businesses, policy- makers and citizens. “In Europe, only the voice of the institutions has been heard so far “- said Prof. Luigino Bruni -. “our dream is that Franciscans, members of the Focolare, people who have chosen “the least” in society, take their place in the Economic ministries … We need the voice of gratuity. In recent decades, these voices were completely silenced. An economy with neither a soul nor charisms capable of including the poor has no future. What do Christian Movements have to say, today, about Economic policy? »

During the congress an effort was made to offer a contribution from the bottom, on the basis of solidarity, to give a voice to everyone, to the poor and the excluded. The objective was to present a perspective of Europe based on an economy of reciprocity and generosity, rather than interest and profit only. An economy derived from cooperatives, from social and civic commitment.

The program had theoretical parts, (such as the causes of the economic crisis in Europe, various experiences and talks on “charismatic economics”, including Father Kentenich’s “pedagogy of ideality” for entrepreneurs of the Schönstatt Movement), and also testimonies derived from practice (concrete experiences of the “Economy of Communion” and the economics of sharing, offered by various Movements). The evenings were devoted to prayer and praise to God, with a concert on the second evening by the international group Gen Verde.

One afternoon, about 100 young people (attending a much larger youth congress in Loppiano) joined in, offering their experiences. Despite their disappointment with the current employment situation for young people, they are striving to uphold their ideals with personal commitment, going ”against the current” of consumerism and by giving life to small scale sustainable models.

It became clear to everyone that in order to renew contemporary economy and avoid its “perverse effects” on people’s lives and the environment, it is necessary to transform Christian values into economic activities and structures.

Everybody, especially the entrepreneurs, felt a great desire to create networks and ways of sharing, and to join forces to give a stronger and more incisive witness to the world.
On leaving, all felt a renewed commitment to deepen what they had received in those days within their own Communities, and to share initiatives with other Movements. A participant concluded: “If we succeed in opening our minds and hearts, tearing down some walls, welcoming each other and creating spaces of encounter and exchange, then it will be possible to give a more effective witness of our Christian roots in the world.”

All videos of the interventions of the conference can be viewed on: http://www.pololionellobonfanti.it/insieme-per-il-bene-comune/

St. Ulrich Foundation Award

St. Ulrich Foundation Award

“They build bridges in Europe with steps of reconciliation and weaving friendship across borders. The result is a current of hope inspired by the Gospel …”

This is the motivation of the European Prize of St. Ulrich, awarded to the Steering Committee of Together for Europe on 3rd May in Dillingen, an historic city in Bavaria (Germany). On hearing it, a long applause praised the culture of Communion.

The presentation was made to seven members of the Committee. Some of those who were there from the very beginning were also present1 . It took place before an audience of about 600 people.

The winners and representatives of 50 movements and communities were welcomed by civil and religious authorities in the square: Mayor Kunz, the Catholic Bishop of Augsburg, Zdarsa, and the regional Evangelical Bishop Grabow. A youth music group gave the welcome and the ceremony included songs and music of a very high standard.

For the first time the award ceremony took place in the Basilica during an ecumenical service.

It was the tenth occasion; previous winners include: Lec Walesa, Helmuth Kohl, Andrea Riccardi and other prominent names. In the presence of personalities from politics, economy, culture and the public life of the region, the laudation was given by the Brazilian Card. Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, who came from Rome: “I note with gratitude the ecumenical witness of the journey of Together for Europe. It always opens new places where you can meet fraternally, generating mutual love between the Churches and thus opening up new approaches to what still divides us.”
The President of the Foundation, Landrat Leo Schrell said: “The impressive variety of movements involved makes it clear that the intuition of Together for Europe is supported by people from different churches and different backgrounds who have one purpose: to contribute to the unity of the Europe”.

According to Schrell this way “is capable of indicating a path for the future.”

See also the website of the administrative district: Photogallery and Downloads

 Gerhard Pross expressed the gratitude of the Steering Committee and said: “European unity and spiritual unity are alive in the Christian movements: it could be a model for the European Union as a home for the one Church of Christ.” He pointed out that the ten thousand euro Prize would be used for young people and movements of Eastern Europe, for their journey in the programme of Together.

He also expressed gratitude to the pioneers of the Together for Europe, in particular Chiara Lubich and Helmut Nicklas .

After the group photo on the steps of the ‘Home of the city’, the event ended with signatures in the guestbook and cordial and well-prepared refreshments. The media were updated through interviews given to regional newspapers, radio and TV.
Various publications underlined the commitment to safeguarding and promoting the treasure of the Christian heritage in Europe, as St. Ulrich expressed.

The Steering Committee. On 2nd May, the Steering Committee met in the Ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring in view of upcoming events. The year 2016 is a focal point with the idea of organizing a conference, followed by a rally in a city in Germany between April and June 2016 (date to be determined). This event is of importance in view of 2017, the year that marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation in Germany. Several cities have given proposals and ideas for initiatives, which were considered carefully. There was an atmosphere of collaboration and joy which led to a unanimous consensus to start the preparations.

Gabri Fallacara and Severin Schmid

1 Friedrich Aschoff, an evangelical from Renewal of the Spirit, Fr. Michael Marmann, a Catholic from Schönstatt and Sr.Anna-Maria aus der Wiesche, Prioress of the Evangelical Community of Christ in Selbitz.

Würzburg and Ischia, 7/12/2013

From Germany (Würzburg)

“A very special day in our ‘Together’” – so the leaders of movements and communities of various Churches in Germany summarized the meeting of 7th December 2013 in Würzburg. 120 people involved in Together for Europe gathered to reflect on the past year and on the next steps to take.

Here is what Gerhard Pross, ‘Treffen von Verantwortlichen’, wrote: “The day began with a reflection on a thought from Chiara Lubich in which we are called to ‘Together’.

This was followed by a rich exchange of experiences of collaboration between movements and communities in various cities in Germany, such as the ‘Oasis of Peace and Prayer’, formed in Stuttgart.

The President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch wished to visit the conference. In ‘Together’, he sees an initiative which unites the Churches, gives an important witness and is a sign of encouragement. He spoke particularly in view of 2017, the year which marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation.

He hopes that this anniversary will become an opportunity of encounter and of new understanding. In the ensuing dialogue, several aspects emerged.

The ‘pact of mutual love’ came into relief, with which the network of Together for Europe was born. It is not enough to know one another; a real, fraternal collaboration is needed, which gives an example to the peoples of Europe.

‘For me it was an historic moment, there is someone who opens wide his arms’, said one of the Leaders. And another exhorted Archbishop Zollitsch to continue on this way with courage: ‘The people are on your side!”

During the conference, reference was made to the meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ which took place last November in Paris. ‘Together’ welcomes not only movements of various Churches, but also belonging to almost all the peoples of Europe. This gives rise to a responsibility for a cultural, social and political contribution.

Gerhard continues: “With the German Committee we prepared the day of 7th December with a prayer of ‘listening’. When we were able to put aside all our considerations and we tried to listen to Him, then we felt encouraged. Someone said: ‘The Risen Lord is among us and says, ‘don’t be afraid!’’.

This meeting had a special grace and left in our hearts the certainty that ‘Together’ will go ahead and that we have been able to intuit something of the ‘score written in heaven’”.

From Ischia (Italy) 7th September 2013: Procession for Peace.

“On 7th September, 2013 – write Rita and Giulio Seller – on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, the ‘Ischia for Europe’ Committee organized a major event for peace with a procession with songs and candles. As a sign of support, shops switched off lights and turned down sound. The march ended in the pine forest with speeches, poems and prayers about peace, contributed by Lutherans and Catholics, interspersed by musical pieces from some of the island’s artists. The Catholic bishop recorded a video message for the occasion.

Many left comments and reflections, expressing gratitude for the event”.

Gabriella Fallacara e Severin Schmid

Acer Movement: a rich encounter

Acer Movement: a rich encounter

During the annual meeting of the “Friends of Together for Europe” in Paris, on 6th November 2013 representatives of the Focolare Movement visited the headquarters of the Orthodox Movement, Acer-Mjo.

Spiritual trust, depth of sharing, discovery of a real friendship in Christ as a seed of a Christian European conscience; these are just a few of the fruits of the visit of representatives of the Focolare Movement to the headquarters of the Acer-MJO Movement (Russian Students’ Christian Action – Orthodox Youth Movement) in Paris. During the annual meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” which took place on 7th-9th November in the French capital, Gabri Fallacara, Severin Schmid and Maria Wienken from Focolare, were received by Cyrille Sollogoub, President of the Orthodox association.

The Acer Movement was started in 1923 by some Russians who had been expelled from their country during the troubled years of the Revolution. The founders include such important personalities as Fr. Sergio Boulgakov, Fr. Giorgio Florovsky and Nicolas Berdiaev. The President, accompanied by his brother Igor who is responsible for the youth section, took us to the Church – Chapel , housed in a former garage in the courtyard, covered with glass. The Divine Liturgy has been celebrated here by famous Orthodox priests and theologians like Florovsky , Bulgakov and Alexander Men. Cyrille explained that “The icon that best expresses the charism of the Acer Movement is the presentation of Mary in the Temple: she contains Jesus and therefore she contains the Church. While in Russia, the churches were being destroyed and the Russian emigrants did not have the means to build others, a new understanding of what the Church is was born: not built from bricks but by living people, bearers of Christ and of his Church.” The aim of raising awareness, especially among the laity, of “being Church” is therefore at the origin of the Acer Movement which was approved by the Patriarch of Russia, Tikon, who was then assassinated; it depends juridically on the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The President recalled, “During the regime one of the main tasks of Acer was to print the Bible, spiritual and cultural literature and get it to Russia. It also supported thefamilies of dissidents and others in need.” Printing is still an important activity for Acer. The youth section is very active and involves over 200 young people. Despite the challenge of distance, summer camps are organized for them in the mountains, as an opportunity for re-evangelization; in this way the sense of faith and of belonging to the Church grows. Once trained, the young people get involved in their own parishes. This beautiful opportunity to meet and get to know one another left us with a sense of gratitude to God who brings us together in the world today with eyes of hope, open to a future of communion.

Gabri Fallacara

Friends of “Together for Europe” in Paris

Friends of “Together for Europe” in Paris

From 7th-9th November the “Friends” of “Together for Europe” gathered in Paris for their annual meeting. One hundred and twenty five leaders of 46 movements and communities of different Churches and 13 European countries – from Russia to Portugal , Denmark to Slovenia, were present at the meeting which took place in the historic setting of Montmartre.

The theme that had been chosen was: “Yes” to the poor and marginalized, as was expressed in the message of Stuttgart 2007.

The many contributions revealed how much the Communities and Movements are linked to the commitment to and with the most needy. It is not just acts of solidarity, but of friendship and brotherhood.

An intense moment was spent with Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Community. He opened the gift of his experience with these words: “Jesus says: “The kingdom of God is like a wedding feast” – but everyone is too busy – and the king who had issued the invitations sends his servants to seek the crippled and the lame in the hedgerows and at the crossroads – this is what I have tried to live in my life.” Jean Vanier is dedicated in particular to the mentally handicapped “the people most oppressed.” “They have changed me, I have seen that the Kingdom of God is theirs.” There are now 140 communities, ecumenical and interreligious, in which “fragile and strong” live together.

The prayers of Catholics and Evangelicals, which introduced the work of the first two days, were followed by that of the Russian Orthodox with its choir .

In the days of lively exchange on the path taken so far by Together for Europe, with the big events in Stuttgart 2004 and 2007 and in Brussels in 2012, thought was given to what could be the next step to take. Recalling the expression of Chiara Lubich, “the score is written in heaven” you could sense in the reciprocal listening to one another that the most valuable experience of this journey together is the deep communion that has developed between Movements of different churches. And it is precisely this “common witness of Christians” which has led to initiatives that Europe needs today, in the political and social fields, “so that the world may believe.”

At the same time, a further contribution is foreseen for 2016, in the form of a congress, which will probably take place in a city in Germany, in order to make visible the path of communion so far.

There was an solemn atmosphere when the new stage was entrusted to God in prayer and the commitment of mutual love renewed.

In May 2014, the Steering Committee will meet again in Dillingen in Germany to receive the prestigious “St. Ulrich European Award” which is 2014 has been awarded to “Together for Europe”.

In Paris there was also a chance to live the “culture of visiting each other”: we went to the Chapel of the metro station in Montparnasse, which is entrusted to the Community of Sant’Egidio , to pray together and learn about their work in the heart of Paris.

And even before the beginning of the meeting, there were those who went to meet the Emmanuel Community, founded by Pierre Goursat e Martine Laffitte-Catta, and those who visited the headquarters of Acer-Mjo (Russian Students’ Christian Action – Orthodox Youth Movement).

Gabri Fallacara

The culture of encounter creates communion

The culture of encounter creates communion

The Steering Committee of Together for Europe meets to reflect on future plans after the third international event: Together for Europe in May 2012.

The Committee made up of eight members including the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical-Lutheran Churches met at the Saint Egidio Community headquarters in Rome on 4thJune, 2013. The main purpose of this meeting was to discuss the fruits of the past year and try to understand together the next step to take. As Chiara Lubich liked to say, trying to see “the score written in heaven.”

In many of the 152 cities linked up on 12th May, 2012 a dynamic collaboration among local movements and communities of various Churches took place. In several countries, there is a national Together for Europe committee which acts as a network that continually encourages dialogue. Andrea Riccardi (founder of the Community of Saint Egidio), quoting Pope Francis, emphasized the responsibility to continue to go out and avoid being self-referential. It is the “culture of encounter” – emphasized Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement also quoting Pope Francis – “the culture of friendship and openness to others that we experience on this journey of communion that gives hope to our continent and beyond.” Returning from a trip to Germany, Maria Voce tells of meetings with important personalities who see Together for Europe as a way of uniting hearts.

Gerhard Pross, YMCA, told, how at the Catholic Academy of Stuttgart-Hohenheim, representatives of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Catholic Church and other churches met, on the 23rd May, 2013 thanks to the invitation of some movements and communities connected with Together for Europe.

Nikolaus Schneider, Chair of EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany), Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (President of the German Bishops’ Conference), Bishop Gerhard Feige, the regional evangelical bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan, Serafim, in their speeches, encouraged an open and intense exchange on ecumenical issues particularly timely for the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and in view of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Some topics emerged:
the return to Christ as the centre point of what unites us, the re-elaboration of our common history at a local and national level that show signs of reconciliation and the importance of raising awareness to the sensitivity of the other Churches.

Rev. Christophe D’Aloisio (SYNDESMOS) presented an interesting vision of some of the Orthodox communities in Europe.
The meeting had a full agenda.
Look at the “existential suburbs/outskirts”: this is one of the priorities.

On the morning of June 5th, cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity met the Steering Committee of Together for Europe: he encouraged their projects.