Author Archives: Sr. Nicole Grochowina

A special event

A special event

Europe Day 2020 and Pope Francis 

We have been journeying together for the last six weeks. During this shared prayerful journey we allowed the Word of God and our reflection regarding Europe (2016) to inspire us, and we included all European Countries in our prayers. Our main objective was to strengthen our yearning to be all one and to mould Europe with the power of prayer.

May 9, Europe Day

Our journey will take us toward May 9, 2020, Europe Day. This Day ought to be a day of encounters between Communities, Movements and Countries. This year, however, due to Covid-19, we cannot gather physically in churches and squares, or hold social events, conferences and prayers.

This does not mean that the Day’s activities have been cancelled; on the contrary: a lot of creativity is being expressed in digital conferences and prayers, discussion groups and on-line dialogue between Communities, Movements and politicians that will be start, for example, from Utrecht, Graz, Rome, Lyon and Esslingen. Here all linguistic and National barriers will be overcome and thus we can reflect together about Europe and to keep the Continent in our prayers. All relevant information can be found on the site “Europe Day 200”>>

Letter from Pope Francis

All our events linked to May 9 have a papal blessing. Indeed, Pope Francis, on 22 April, sent a letter to the Secretariat of Together for Europe in Rome in which, after thanking us for our letter of April 12, he encouraged in the service to the common good, inspired by values of solidarity, peace and justice. He pray for us and he warmly sents his apostolic blessing to all of us. The letter, which has been translated into 4 languages, can be downloaded here in English.

Sr. Nicole Grochowina, Christusbruderschaft Selbitz

2020 04 22 Secretariat Of State - Pope Francis EN (649.0 KB, 7 downloads)

Photo Pope Francis: Pixabay/Manfred Kindlinger

 

Europe – a „revolutionary project“

A short contribution, seen from an historical perspective, to Europe’s religious foundations and their difficulties

„Not only do books have a destiny but terms do too.”  These are the opening words of the extensive History of the West (Geschichte des Westens) published in 2009 by historian Heinrich Winkler.  And although Winkler is specifically unpacking the term “the West”, he simultaneously presents arguments which form a basis for reflecting on Europe.  The fact that terms and their meanings change can either be comforting, threatening or even a sign of hope which is precisely what is currently happening in Europe.  It is therefore worth taking a closer look at his ideas.

Winkler also makes fundamental and noteworthy observations about Europe.  Firstly, he states that Europe is still most strongly characterised by its religious nature.  This might come as a surprise in view of lay and secular developments but secularisation on this scale can only be understood as a reaction to powerful religious influences which were marked by differences according to divine and temporal order right from the start. This is the historical context in which Europe was born even if Europe’s religious history was consequently one of division.

Secondly, Europe has never gone forward in a linear way. Rather than being a story of uninterrupted success, Europe is a story of fractures, destruction, new beginnings and the perennial dream of a single community of shared values. This community first emerged through “transatlantic collaboration” as Winkler calls it for there can be no Declaration of Human and Civil Rights without the 1776 Declaration of Rights. The perspective is therefore broad.

Thirdly, Europe is also characterised by the “contradiction between the normative project and political practice” (Winkler, 21) which is why its revolutionary goal of freedom and equality was not achieved at the same time.  This is ultimately still an ideal today.

What are the consequences?  The consequences are either to abandon the revolutionary project of freedom and equality – or to adhere more strictly to its main features. Winkler argues that Europe can “do nothing better to spread its values than follow them itself and be self-critical about its own history which broadly speaking was a story of its own ideals being violated” (Winkler, 24) and still is. This also means: ad fontes! What are the origins of this dream, this revolutionary project – and how can we pursue the dream today? And do spiritual communities and movements have a special part to play?

Sr. Nicole Grochowina

A glance from Germany

60 YEARS SINCE THE „TREATIES OF ROME” 24th – 25th March 2017

On 25th March 1957 six European countries – Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries – decided to establish an “Economic Community” which as stated in the introduction to the agreement, was to be built on a foundation of peace, reconciliation and collaboration. The signatories were motivated by a common will to lay the grounds for an ever-closer collaboration between European countries. They were determined to safeguard economic and social development in each individual country through joint action, remove barriers of division and consolidate peace and freedom on the continent.

At the same time, other European states were invited to “join forces”.

The ultimate significance of the “Economic European Community” went well beyond a search for economic advancement. Already in the early 1950s the French Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman (1886-1963) made clear that sustainable peace in Europe could only be guaranteed through joint control over resources such as the coal and steel required in warfare.

In addition, Germany was accepted as an equal partner in the nascent community, just 12 years after the war ended.

This was a decisive step towards reconciliation on the continent in which France and Germany had a determining role.

Since 1992 the European Union has become a guarantor of political cohesion on the continent. This would have not been possible without the agreements leading to the “Economic European Community” – the “Treaties of Rome”.

Whilst the Treaties dealt in detail with issues such as import, export, customs regulation, tribunals, economic policies, free circulation of goods and establishment of commissions, it can be considered primarily as the act through which a united Europe was born.

In this, of key importance, is firstly the fact that the signatories were former enemies and secondly that the intention behind its stipulation, clearly set out in the Preamble, was that the Union should aim to eliminate barriers, safeguard peace and freedom, promote development, thereby improving conditions of life for Europeans.

 

 

Written by Sr. PD Dr. Nicole Grochowina of Christusbruderschaft Community in Selbitz (Germany). Since 2012 Sr. Grochowina has been lecturing in modern history at University of Erlangen/Nuremberg (Germany). She is a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe and of the Committee of experts on ecumenism of the Evangelical Church of Bavaria.