Author Archives: Together for Europe

Proposals that arrived

After requesting suggestions in our May Newsletter for a short subtitle to “Together for Europe”, here are some proposals that arrived (in their original language).

Our thanks to each one who contributed, a clear sign of being part of TOGETHER! 

  • ’Europa – la nostra casa comune
  • ’Europa – la Casa della famiglia dei popoli
  • In the Name of Jesus
  • Cristiani per l’Europa – popoli dal labbro puro, rivestiti delle armi della luce
  • Ein geschwisterliches Europa der Werte
  • Wir bauen auf ein Europa der Geschwisterlichkeit / auf ein Europa der Werte
  • Insieme per l’Europa – pista cristiana verso un mondo migliore di sussidiarietà e solidarietà
  • „Diese Christen bekommen wir nicht mehr auseinander. Sie gehören zusammen“  (Zitat von Reinhard Kardinal Marx)
  • Miteinander für Europa – Christen aus verschiedenen Konfessionen tun sich zusammen
  • Aus Unkenntnis wird ein Staunen über den Reichtum der anderen
  • Ein Synergie-Effekt entsteht. Kräfte werden frei.
  • Europa bekommt ein anderes Gesicht! Das Gesicht Jesu!
  • Innestati nelle radici comuni
  • L’Europa si desta!
  • Europa: casa delle nazioni – Famiglia di popoli
  • Europa delle nazioni – Famiglia di popoli

In Assisi among “peers”

Together for Europe invited by Italian Association “Cities for Fraternity”

Some say that in order to unite Europe, you need to unite European cities. Is there, however, any universal “glue” that is capable of tying together and bringing alive such network?

Together for Europe is a group of Christians who t o g e t h e r, through their social and political commitment for Europe in the broadest sense, strive for brotherhood among all. The Association Cities for Fraternity is a body whose objective is to make a contribution, in Italy and beyond, to promoting brotherhood in political life. The aims of the two organisations have a lot in common, to the point that these organisations consider themselves as peers.

On 22nd June 2017, in Assisi, the city of St. Francis, the management of Cities for Fraternity met with representatives from different Italian cities. Together for Europe was also invited to the meeting, following a first contact between the two peer organisations last February in Rome, on the occasion of the conferral of the “Chiara Lubich Prize for Fraternity” to the municipality of Assisi (see article in section ‘International News’ of the website). The desire behind this invitation was to develop synergies between the peer organisations to better position of each to be at a service of the common good.

“Brotherhood needs to become our way of life” – Donatella Tesei, the Vice-President of the association emphasised, quoting examples of practical collaboration between different cities of Central Italy. Her words were echoed by the facts and testimonials showing the work of Together for Europe in different European countries.

So, brotherhood is the “glue” which makes such synergies between different groups working within Cities for Fraternity and Together for Europe possible; together they can offer a spiritual and cultural contribution in response to challenges emerging in our cities.

Ilona Tóth and Ada Maria Guazzo

Croatia: Zagreb

Am 7. Juni haben wir endlich unser Miteinander – Gebet für Europa durchführen können, das von 5 Gemeinschaften vorbereitet wurde. Es waren etwa 150 Personen anwesend, die in einer tiefen Atmosphäre der Gemeinschaft für die Zukunft Europas gebetet haben.

Hanny Knüsel

9th May: Europe Day

It is encouraging to see the good intentions and new commitment to the European project

This day marks the anniversary of the beginning of the process of European integration. On 9th May 1950 Robert Schuman presented a plan for European cooperation known as ‘The Schuman Declaration’. This day also marks the anniversary of the end of Second World War, following the Nazi surrender on 8th May.

However, this day also marks victory for the then Soviet Union in 1945 as a result of which many Central and Eastern European countries became satellite states to Moscow.

It is a day in history of territorial gains, affecting an entire section of humanity, both in positive and in negative ways. As such, it is a historical day, Europe Day.

In European Union member countries, the EU Institutions hold Open Days in order to help European citizens to better understand the great “enterprise” which, since the year 2000 has as its motto: ‘United in diversity’. A motto that “signifies how Europeans have come together, in the form of the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by the continent’s many different cultures, traditions and languages.” To date, the motto appears as a challenge more so than a lived experience. However, it is encouraging to see the good intentions and new commitment to the European project, shown by the joint declaration of heads of state and government, which was signed on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

We, Christians of different Churches, through our respective charisms, within our Movements and Communities, feel called upon on this Europe Day to continue our work for a more brotherly and united Europe. On the journey of Together for Europe, we have experienced that unity in diversity is possible based on a shared premise that we are all children of God and brothers. Every effort to build friendship and brotherhood in our communities, is precious. Our diversity becomes gift and mutual enrichment. And if this works on a small scale, it can be extended further to all in helping to serve the greater common good.

Ilona Toth

France: Castres

Pour le présent et l’avenir de l’Europe, Castres le 24 mars 2017

Mgr Georges Pontier, le 28 mars 2017, dans son discours d’ouverture de l’Assemblée plénière des évêques de France à Lourdes, a encouragé à “regarder l’avenir de l’Europe avec confiance”: “Ce samedi 25 mars dernier, se fêtait à Rome le soixantième anniversaire de la signature des traités de Rome, acte fondateur de l’Union européenne. La veille, le Pape François en a reçu les 27 chefs d’État. Dans un discours apprécié, il les a encouragés dans leurs responsabilités en rappelant ce qui a guidé les pères fondateurs « les piliers sur lesquels ils ont voulu édifier la communauté économique européenne et que j’ai déjà rappelés : la centralité de l’homme, une solidarité effective, l’ouverture au monde, la poursuite de la paix et du développement, l’ouverture à l’avenir… L’Europe retrouve l’espérance dans la solidarité qui est aussi le plus efficace antidote contre les populismes modernes ». Beaucoup de voix s’expriment pour que l’Europe retrouve cet esprit solidaire qui a présidé à son histoire.

A l’heure où le Pape François s’adressait aux chefs d’Etat, les Tarnais étaient invités à prier pour l’Europe en l’église St-Jean/St-Louis de Castres ou à s’y unir par le cœur. Cette initiative était promue par le Service diocésain de la Mission universelle de l’Eglise, sous l’impulsion des Mouvements Focolari et Vivre et Aimer, membres du réseau Ensemble pour l’Europe (formé de quelque 300 communautés et mouvements chrétiens)“Ce soir, une Veillée de prière œcuménique et internationale aura lieu à Rome en la Basilique des Saints-Apôtres, à l’initiative du réseau Ensemble pour l’Europe. En écho à cette célébration, des soirées de prière auront lieu à Bruxelles, à Paris, et dans bien d’autres villes européennes… Au moment où l’Europe traverse une période difficile, entre peur de l’avenir et peur de l’étranger, nous vous invitons à prier, nous aussi à Castres, pour une Europe qui redécouvre sa véritable identité dans la rencontre avec l’autre. »

Des lectures bibliques ont conduit le recueillement, amenant chacun à un questionnement intérieur : « Écoutons la Parole de Dieu, puis laissons-La retentir en nous dans le silence de l’Adoration. D’abord dans le Livre d’Isaïe au chapitre 2 (v. 3-5). ‘Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer et Alcide de Gasperi, les pères fondateurs de l’Europe avaient tant souffert de la guerre… Méditons en silence. Je suis chrétien. Est-ce que je pose des actes de paix ?… dans ma famille ?… dans mes rapports de voisinage et de travail ?… Lors de rencontres (en paroisse, dans la vie sociale…)?

Ecoutons la Parole de Dieu dans l’Évangile selon Saint Matthieu au chapitre 5 (v. 12-16).‘ Je suis chrétien. Est-ce que j’essaie d’être sel dans le bout de terre européenne que j’habite ? Comment est-ce que je vis en témoin de lumière dans mon quartier, dans mes lieux d’engagement et de loisir ?’

Ecoutons la Parole de Dieu dans les Actes des Apôtres au chapitre 16 (9-10).‘ Je suis chrétien. Est-ce que j’accueille celui qui est différent ? Est-ce que je vois un frère à aider, en celui qui est étranger, qu’il soit d’un autre pays européen ou d’un autre continent ?’

Chacun a ensuite reçu le drapeau de l’un des pays européens et s’est engagé à prier avec persévérance pour cette nation.

R-L Coureau

Italia: Flash da altre città

Viterbo

A Viterbo, il 17 marzo 2017,  120 persone hanno realizzato la prima veglia internazionale ed ecumenica per l’Europa presso la chiesa di S. Murialdo, sostenuta dal  Consiglio Diocesano dei laici, con la partecipazione anche di una predicatrice valdese e del parroco romeno ortodosso, accompagnato da alcuni parrocchiani.

Un messaggio della Segreteria Internazionale di Insieme per l’Europa ha creato un legame con tutte le altre veglie.

Nel programma, di rilievo l’omelia del Vescovo, S.E. Mons. Lino Fumagalli sulle radici cristiane dell’Europa e l’esempio di un frutto attuale di quelle ‘radici’: la testimonianza presentata da un membro dell’Associazione Papa Giovanni XXIII, di accoglienza e accompagnamento nei campi profughi ai confini tra Libano e Siria, per la collaborazione di più organizzazioni.

Parma

Parma: organizzatori della veglia per l’Europa nuovi e antichi carismi (es. Associazione Teilhard de Chardin, Mov. dei Focolari e missionarie Saveriane, che hanno ospitato l’incontro, in una sala riunioni gremita), con coinvolgimento della Comunità Baha’i, del gruppo yoga Svarupananda e di membri dei ”Musulmani per il dialogo”. Si è riflettuto sull’unità e la pace fra gli Stati e sul dialogo fra le religioni. Ha parlato della veglia un articolo di Laura Caffagnini nel settimanale di Parma, del 30 marzo: Vita-Nuova_Parma.pdf

Siena

A Siena  già il  23.3.2017, si è realizzata una veglia ecumenica di preghiera per il 60° anniversario dei Trattati di Roma, col contributo di vari Movimenti e Comunità cattoliche, attive a Siena, che hanno coinvolto anche rappresentanti della Chiesa Anglicana e della Chiesa Ortodossa. L’incontro, con una buona partecipazione di gente, si è  svolto nella chiesa di San Cristoforo ed è stato guidato dall’Arcivescovo, Mons. Antonio Buoncristiani, presente anche il Professor Paolo Nardi, Priore generale dell’Associazione Internazionale dei Caterinati.

Foggia

Alla veglia ecumenica di Foggia, organizzata da alcuni Movimenti cattolici (fra cui Rinnovamento nello Spirito, Neocatecumenali e Focolari) hanno partecipato i Valdesi, alcuni Pentecostali, un Ortodosso. Espressivo il commento da parte del Consiglio Ecumenico di Foggia: “INSIEME PER L’EUROPA”: bellissima serata di preghiera e di riflessione, nella quale i rappresentanti delle confessioni cristiane hanno testimoniato, attraverso la loro riflessione spirituale su passi della Bibbia, che comunione, riconciliazione e unità sono possibili ancora oggi in Europa. “Insieme per l’Europa” è una forza di coesione e traduce i valori base del cristianesimo in risposta concreta alle sfide di un continente in crisi.

Varazze

Anche a Varazze (Savona) ci si è voluti associare alle veglie organizzate da Insieme per l’Europa, organizzando il 25 marzo una preghiera, con la celebrazione dei Vespri, ad iniziativa della Presidente dell’Associazione Internazionale dei Caterinati, Marina  Delfino. Erano presenti, insieme ad un buon numero di laici, la priora del terz’Ordine Domenicano e il priore, padre Daniele Mazzoleni, con alcuni frati.

a cura di Ada Maria Guazzo

Slovenia: Veglie in 17 località e servizio TV nazionale

Ora è un tempo giusto perché l’Europa si rinnovi

In Slovenia si sono svolte veglie di preghiera per l’Europa in 17 città e paesi. Diversi luoghi hanno visto la partecipazioni di Vescovi, come a Ljubljana, l’arcivescovo Stanislav Zore, a Strunjan, Il vescovo Jurij Bizjak, nella diocesi di Celje, il vescovo. Stanislav Lipovšek, a Novo Mesto il vescovo, Andrej Glavan.

L’iniziativa è stata accolta e seguita dai media. Nel giornale cattolico nazionale “Družina” (La famiglia), con tiratura di oltre 30.000 copie, è uscito un articolo con il titolo: “Per l ‘Europa dello Spirito, vieni ed aiutaci”.

La settimana prima delle varie iniziative, alla radio cattolica nazionale “Radio Ognjišče”, molto ascoltata in Slovenia, varie volte al giorno è stata data la notizia di questo avvenimento. Diverse le interviste, tra cui quella con il comitato nazionale di Insieme per l’Europa.

Nella città di Strunjan, la chiesa era piena dalle ore 18 della sera del 24 marzo fino alle ore 9 del giorno successivo. Il coro era composto da giovani di diversi Movimenti. Tutto molto solenne e partecipato, tanto che la TV nazionale slovena, canale 1, ha scelto di mandare in onda un servizio “Orizzonti dello Spirito” (link della trasmissione).

//4d.rtvslo.si/arhiv/obzorja-duha/174463819

Testo Trasmissione TV dallo Sloveno (13.9 KB, 539 downloads)

Italia: Matera

Una tappa importante a Matera

Un’altra tappa importante del cammino ecumenico a Matera è stato l’aver aderito alla iniziativa internazionale di Insieme per l’Europa che – in occasione dei 60 anni dalla firma dei trattati di Roma, che hanno istituito l’Unione Europea – ha proposto a Roma e in molte città europee momenti di preghiera e riflessione.

L’idea è stata proposta al gruppo ecumenico di Matera, che l’ha accolta con entusiasmo, ravvisandovi una ulteriore occasione per poter innanzitutto crescere nel dialogo fra noi e poi per offrire insieme un importante momento di riflessione e testimonianza di esperienze positive alla città e alle istituzioni nel nostro territorio. Si è voluto dare un taglio laico all’iniziativa, permettendo anche a non cristiani e non credenti di potersi ritrovare in ciò che abbiamo proposto.

L’incontro, realizzato il 25 marzo, nella parrocchia Maria Madre della Chiesa, è iniziato con il video del Gen Verde “Io credo nel noi”, evidenziando che l’unità nella diversità – che sperimentiamo profondamente nel gruppo ecumenico – è ciò che sta alla base del cammino ‘insieme’ intrapreso da anni.

Con il primo intervento, è stata presentata la storia dell’Unione europea nei suoi tratti più salienti, evidenziando quali sono stati gli ideali e l’anelito che ha guidato i padri fondatori, cosa è rimasto oggi di quegli ideali, quali sono le prospettive attuali e le sfide che ci interpellano. Questo momento è stato affidato a Camilla Spada, docente di Storia e Filosofia  e ad Achille Spada, consigliere Regionale, che ha saputo – da amministratore – ben evidenziare problematiche politiche e culturali che oggi ci investono, ma anche porre l’accento sulla necessaria riscoperta e valorizzazione di quegli ideali umani di cui l’esperienza cristiana è stata portatrice in Europa.

E’ stata poi presentata l’esperienza di Insieme per l’Europa, come rete internazionale di circa 300 movimenti e comunità cristiane in Europa che liberamente vogliono costruire una “cultura di reciprocità”, basata su rapporti di comunione nel rispetto della diversità, e che da oltre 15 anni sperimentano che l’unità è possibile. E’ seguito il video di presentazione di Insieme per l’Europa.

Sono seguite alcune testimonianze di accoglienza e di integrazione realizzate in loco, per dare un segno di come singolarmente ed insieme si può essere costruttori della ‘nostra’ Europa. Giuseppe e Paola Montemurro, della comunità Battista, hanno raccontato come da mesi accolgono alcuni ragazzi africani migranti – minorenni senza più genitori –  giunti in un paese in provincia di Matera, andandoli a prendere nel fine settimana e ospitandoli nella loro casa, nella stanza dei loro figli oramai fuori per l’università. Li hanno inseriti nella scuola calcio di cui è responsabile Giuseppe, e stanno anche cercando loro un lavoro. Catia Caponero ha presentato l’esperienza dei “Corridoi umanitari” a cui collabora, insieme con esponenti della Comunità di Sant’Egidio,  di Comunione e Liberazione ed anche non credenti. Recentemente hanno accolto e seguono a Matera una famiglia proveniente dalla Siria.

L’incontro – durato circa 2 ore – si è concluso con un impegno per l’Europa, in cui, facendo proprie le parole del Card. Martini, si è voluto evidenziare la necessità di “lavorare per una Europa dello spirito, fondata non soltanto sugli accordi economici, ma anche su valori umani ed eterni”.

All’incontro hanno preso parte più di 80 persone; in tanti hanno detto di essere stati contenti per il taglio “laico” e universale dell’incontro, per le forti testimonianze ascoltate, per aver potuto conoscere la realtà di Insieme per l’Europa.

Negli organizzatori rimane la gioia di aver costruito un altro momento importante di condivisione e di unità non soltanto col gruppo ecumenico, ma anche con persone che hanno a cuore il “Bene comune”, certi che il don Gino Galante – pioniere del dialogo ecumenico a Matera e partito per il cielo pochi giorni prima dell’incontro – abbia contribuito…

Vedi anche articolo LOGOS_Matera_31.03.2017.pdf

 

Foto in alto della città di Matera di Luca Aless, CC BY-SA 4.0, //commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45529817

Italia: Trento

Veglia ecumenica per l’Europa, 24 marzo 2017, Chiesetta di Santa Chiara a Trento.

Erano presenti circa 100 persone, fra cui la teologa Milena Mariani, preside dell’ Istituto superiore di scienze religiose e, a nome del sindaco Andreatta, l’assessore Chiara Maule.

Nel programma, si sono alternati interventi, riflessioni, preghiere, canti e letture della Scrittura.

Molto apprezzato il contributo sugli ideali dei fondatori dell’Europa del Prof. Beppe Zorzi, (incaricato dal Presidente della Provincia Autonoma di Trento e del Trentino-Alto Adige, Ugo Rossi). Vedi in fondo il suo testo scaricabile.

Hanno collaborato alla preparazione 7 Movimenti ecclesiali di varie Chiese.

Il vicario generale della diocesi di Trento,  Mons. Marco Saiani, il padre ortodosso rumeno Joan Catalin e la signora Cornelia Steubing, della Comunità luterana di Bolzano (vedi in fondo il suo testo scaricabile), sono intervenuti con delle riflessioni appropriate sul momento storico attuale che vede venir meno i valori fondativi dell’Unione Europea. Particolarmente bello il contributo della comunità ortodossa rumena con un loro tipico canto.

Le impressioni dei partecipanti: un momento intenso di comunione, di unità, di riflessione, che “ha rimesso in cuore il desiderio per un’Europa unita”.

Di Mario e Luisa Franzoia

Libretto Veglia Di Preghiera 24.3.2017 TRENTO (55.0 KB, 273 downloads)

Intervento Prof. G. Zorzi, Veglia per l'Europa TRENTO 2017 (18.4 KB, 423 downloads)

Intervento C. Steubing, Veglia per l'Europa TRENTO 2017 (13.5 KB, 401 downloads)

Italia: Trieste

Un modo gioioso di essere cittadini europei segnati per sempre dall’ideale della fraternità.

Ieri l’incontro sull’Unione Europea ha visto confluire nella sala dell’oratorio di S. Giacomo 150 persone. Il programma ha visto gli interventi di d. Vatta e di Giampiero Viezzoli pieni di contenuti valoriali e informativi, a cui sono seguiti gli interventi di un gruppo di ragazzi delle scuole medie, che ci hanno contagiato con la loro freschezza giovanile, e l’intervento testimoniale dell’Iman Nader Akkad sull’Islam in Europa.

Hanno allietato la serata i ragazzi dell’orchestra di flauti del Liceo Musicale locale. Nella prima parte dell’incontro vi è stata la presenza del Sindaco Di Piazza, che ha fatto eco all’esigenza di riprendere il cammino forse al momento interrotto dell’unità europea. Erano presenti anche il Senatore Francesco Russo e la Consigliera comunale Fabiana Martini. Sono seguite le testimonianze fornite dalla lettera inviataci dalla Comunità ebraica, un testo bellissimo e commovente, in cui si palesa la sensazione di possibili ritorni all’indietro verso forme di intolleranza che già tanto hanno fatto soffrire e subito dopo dall’affettuoso saluto del Pastore Avventista Michele Gaudio. Hanno concluso i giovani del Servizio del Volontariato europeo col racconto delle loro esperienze in altre nazioni e con la presenza di un professore giapponese in visita in Europa, dove ha potuto godere di questo clima civile e politico comunque diverso, aperto e conciliativo.

La nota forse più rilevante di questa serata, che si è poi conclusa con una simpatica danza collettiva sulle note di una canzone di supporto all’insieme che l’Europa può e deve essere, è stata la presenza attiva e partecipe dei giovani delle varie associazioni a cominciare dai due presentatori, Ilaria e Andrea, per poi passare a dei giovanissimi studenti dichiaratisi convinti europeisti, ai musicisti flautisti, ai giovani volontari europei, ai giovani presenti in sala. E naturalmente il respiro di una festa comunitaria sentita e fraterna, dove ci si vede volentieri, perchè volentieri si è lavorato ottenendo il risultato del formarsi di un’apertura del cuore e della mente che vada oltre le solite chiusure, ma anche oltre le visioni ristrette o indifferenti.

Un impegno comune per una causa di notevole spessore come quella di relazionarsi nel rispetto tra persone di varie appartenenze. Un modo gioioso di essere cittadini europei segnati per sempre dall’ideale della fraternità.

di Elena e Silvano Magnelli

Aus 11 Städten Deutschlands

Gebet um die Einheit Europas und um den Frieden

Am Vorabend des 60. Jahrestages der Unterzeichnung der Römischen Verträge hatte das ökumenische Netzwerk Miteinander für Europa zu einem Gebet für Europa eingeladen. In Rom und in mehr als 50 europäischen Städten, davon 15 in Deutschland, beteten Hunderte von Menschen für die Einheit Europas und für den Frieden.

Esslingen, Winnenden und Breitenbrunn

Im CVJM-Haus in Esslingen, so berichtet Valerian Grupp, habe es mit neun Teilnehmern einen zahlenmäßig kleinen, aber dichten Gebetsabend mit Mitgliedern aus der kath. Kirche, der Baptistengemeinde und dem CVJM gegeben. Diana Fischer berichtet aus Winnenden, dass ihre Gebetsgruppe aus 12 Personen aus dem Asarja e.V. und aus der evangelische Allianz Winnenden bestanden habe. Am Ende der zwei Stunden intensiven Gebetes und des gemeinsamen Lobpreises sei für einzelne Nationen konkret gebetet und der Segen Gottes über diese Länder ausgesprochen worden. In der Missions- u. Begegnungsstätte Maria Baumgärtle in Breitenbrunn traf sich eine Gruppe von 20 Personen: Missionare vom Kostbaren Blut, ein Teil des Chors “Klangzauber” aus Breitenbrunn und weitere Einzelpersonen. An die Lektüre eines Infotextes über die Römischen Verträge schloss sich die gemeinsame Gebetszeit an, die sich ganz an der vom Netzwerk “Miteinander für Europa” zur Verfügung gestellten Gottesdienstvorlage orientierte. Besonders war das Bewusstsein, zeitgleich mit anderen Europäerinnen und Europäern in anderen Städten des Kontinentes zu beten und mit ihnen verbunden zu sein.

Ellwangen

Bei einer Gebetsveranstaltung in Ellwangen in der Franziskuskapelle betonte der CDU-Landtagsabgeordnete Winfried Mack, dass die Unterzeichnung der Römischen Verträge vor 60 Jahren den Menschen in Europa Frieden und Freiheit gebracht hätten. „Nach Jahrhunderten blutigster Kriege, Knechtschaft, staatlicher oder durch Banden organisierter Gewalt, nach Verirrungen im Nationalismus und gerade noch der gänzlichen Selbstzerstörung entgangen (Stichwort: Wunderwaffe), ist es diesem Kontinent gelungen, umzukehren!“ Ein einiges Europa sei der richtige Weg, den es weiterzugehen gelte. Mack forderte: „Wir müssen die Kraft finden, die großen Aufgaben in Europa gemeinsam zu lösen, ohne dass die Menschen dafür in ihrer heimatlichen Identität bedrängt werden.“ Angesichts der Tatsache, dass Ellwangen 700 Jahre lang ein Benediktinerkloster hatte, in dem der später heilig gesprochene Methodius drei Jahre lang Gefangener der fränkischen Herrscher gewesen sei, regte der Abgeordnete an, „die Patrone Europas, den heiligen Benedikt und die heiligen Brüder Cyrill und Methodius um deren Fürsprache für uns und alle Menschen in Europa zu bitten.”

Weinheim

Auf dem zentralen Marktplatz der Stadt Weinheim/Bergstraße (bei Heidelberg) waren zum „Gebet für Europa“ etwa 100 Personen verschiedener Generationen aus der Stadt und aus den umliegenden Gemeinden zusammengekommen. Eingeladen waren Mitglieder aller Kirchen und kirchlichen Gemeinschaften, die der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen (ACK) in Weinheim und Umgebung angehören. Gekommen war u.a. auch der Oberbürgermeister von Weinheim, Heiner Bernhard mit seiner Frau, der sich im Anschluss für die Initiative herzlich bedankt hat. Christian Pestel, Pastor der Baptistengemeinde, gestaltete den Gottesdienst aktiv mit. Bei der Kundgebung waren Teilnehmer von unterschiedlichen Konfessionen vertreten, etliche auch von der Baptistengemeinde.

Vallendar-Schönstatt

Mit einer international in fünf Sprachen gestalteten Gebetszeit, schaltete sich die Schönstatt-Bewegung in die Gebetsinitiative für Europa ein. Pater Ludwig Güthlein, Leiter der Schönstatt-Bewegung Deutschland, brachte zum Ausdruck, dass Europa gerade heute für seine Entwicklung „göttliche Kräfte“ brauche. „Deshalb beten wir heute Abend: Herr Jesus Christus, komm erneut mit deiner Gnade, um diesem Europa seine Seele zu erhalten.“ Eindrücklich für die knapp 50 Teilnehmer im und vor dem Urheiligtum und für die Mitbeter, die an ihren Monitoren die Feier im Live-Stream von www.schoenstatt-tv.de verfolgten, waren die „Traum“-Worte von Papst Franziskus über Europa, die er bei der Verleihung des Karlspreises am 6. Mai 2016 zum Ausdruck brachte und die in Deutsch, Französisch und Englisch vorgetragen wurden. (Siehe Bericht bei www.schoenstatt.de)

Landau/Pfalz

In der Kapelle des Katholischen Altenzentrums Landau/Pfalz kamen etwa 45 Personen aus verschiedenen christlichen Religionsgemeinschaften zusammen. Vertreten waren katholische, evangelische, baptistische und weitere freikirchliche Christen aus der Süd- und Südwestpfalz und aus dem Elsass, die Mitglieder in einer Vielzahl von Gemeinschaften und Bewegungen sind, so z.B. die Fokolarbewegung, Stadtmissionen Landau-Zeiskam und Annweiler, Hauskreisgemeinschaft Hassloch, Ökumenischer Hauskreis Annweiler, Ökumenischer Gebetskreis Südwestpfalz, Charismatische Erneuerung Landau, Evangelische Stiftskirchengemeinde, Katholiken aus verschiedenen Pfarreien. Neben dem Dank für 70 Jahre Frieden wurde vor allem darum gebetet, dass sich Blockierungen in Europa lösen. Dabei wurde nicht nur um den Erhalt der EU, sondern auch für notwendige Reformen und Umbauten gebetet.

Selbitz/Oberfranken

Die Communität der Christusbruderschaft Selbitz hat zum Gebet für Europa ihr Abendgebet für Gäste und Gemeinschaften geöffnet. Gut 35 Geschwistern wurde deutlich, „dass wir uns allesamt um ein friedliches und zugewandtes Miteinander in Europa bemühen, denn: Dieses ist keine Selbstverständlichkeit, sondern braucht unser Engagement, unsere Leidenschaft für Freundschaften über alle Grenzen hinweg und nicht zuletzt auch unser Gebet“, wie Sr. Nicole zum Ausdruck brachte. Zum Dank für alles, was in Europa in den letzten Jahren, Jahrzehnten und auch Jahrhunderten geworden ist kam auch die Bitte um Gottes Erbarmen für alles, woran Europa schuldig geworden ist – ob dies nun das massenhafte Morden in Kriegen oder die Rückbesinnung auf nationalistische Egoismen war, welche die Einheit Europas und seinen Traum von einem Miteinander über alle Grenzen hinweg zerstören können. Und das Gebet geht weiter: Alle beim Gebet anwesenden, haben ein europäisches Land gewählt, das sie bis Ende November im Gebet begleiten werden. Dann nämlich findet 2017 die letzte größere Wahl in Europa statt.

München

In der Münchner Heilig-Geist-Kirche war das Gebet für Europa Teil der regelmäßigen „Stay and Pray“ Initiative. Von den im Miteinander-Netzwerk vertretenen Gemeinschaften beteiligten sich der CVJM München, die Vineyard Gemeinde, die Agape Gemeinschaft, das Lobpreisteam, Jugend 2000 und die Fokolar Bewegung.  Ein besonders dichter Moment waren die frei gesprochenen Fürbitten: die Gegenwart des Heiligen Geistes war spürbar und offensichtlich anziehend, denn viele Fußgänger traten in die Kirche ein, um zusammen mit den Vertretern der Gemeinschaften in Gebet und Gesang zu verweilen. Ein schönes, lebendiges Bild von Jung und Alt vereint in gemeinsamer Fürbitte.

Borken

In Kloster Burlo bei Borken waren etwa 60 Mitglieder der Fokolar-Bewegung versammelt, zu denen überraschend 10 Marienschwestern der Schönstatt-Bewegung dazu kamen, obwohl deren Gemeinschaft ihre übliche Anbetungszeit hielt. So wurde nicht nur für das Miteinander in Europa gebetet, sondern auch das Miteinander der Gemeinschaften erlebt.

Rottenburg-Liebfrauenhöhe

Neben 50 Schönstätter Marienschwestern die auf der Liebfrauenhöhe wohnen, nahmen 150 weitere Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer beim Gebet für Europa teil, das in der Kröniungskirche des Schönstatt-Zentrums in der Nähe von Rottenburg stattfand. Vor allem Mitglieder der Fokolar-Bewegung waren neben den Mitgliedern der Schönstattbewegung und vielen Mitchristen aus den umliegenden Ortschaften zum Abendgebet gekommen, das von Sr. M. Monika März und Pfr. Klaus Rennemann, Schönstatt-Bewegung, Claudia Hofrichter, Mitglied bei Kolping und Mitglied im Kultur- und Integrationsausschuss Ergenzingen, sowie von P. Dr. Lothar Penners, Mitglied im Trägerkreis von „Miteinander für Europa“ Deutschland, gestaltet wurde. Ortsvorsteher Horst Schuh, Baisingen, sprach von seinen Erfahrungen mit „Europa frei und offen: Leben, Reisen, Arbeiten auf unserem Kontinent“. Er zeigte aus seinen Kinder- und Jugenderfahrungen auf, wie sich Europa von einem Kontinent der vielen Grenzen in ein Europa der Freiheit und des Friedens gewandelt hat. Landrat Roland Bernhard, der vor 25 Jahren Vertreter der Landesregierung in Brüssel war, schilderte die Aufgaben Europas für heute und der Zukunft. Er zeigte die politischen Schwierigkeiten und Herausforderungen, v.a. in der Flüchtlingsfrage und den wirtschaftlichen Herausforderungen und rief uns dazu auf, über die Grenzen Europas zu schauen. P. Dr. Lothar Penners, Rottenburg-Liebfrauenhöhe, wies anhand des Wortes aus dem Kolosserbrief „Lasst nicht nach im Beten; seid dabei wachsam und dankbar…, seid weise im Umgang mit den Außenstehenden, nutzt die Zeit! Eure Worte seien immer freundlich, doch mit Salz gewürzt.“ (Kol. 4,2-6), hin auf die christliche Verantwortung und zeigte über die kultur- und religionsgeschichtliche Entwicklung Europas, wie sehr Christen aufgrund ihres Glaubens eine große Sendung für Frieden und Solidarität haben. Pfr. Klaus Rennemann beschrieb den Einsatz für Europa als Auftrag Gottes: Denn Europa müsse – trotz der vielen Herausforderungen – für die Welt zu einem sichtbaren Zeichen und Garant des Friedens und des gelingenden Miteinanders werden. Abgeschlossen wurde die Veranstaltung durch das Gebet für Europa, das Vater unser, einen tiefen Friedensgruß und die Möglichkeit zur Anbetung im Bitten um ein gelingendes Miteinander.

Quelle: www.miteinander-wie-sonst.org

Titelbild: “Dank-Sterne” für Europa (Foto: Valerian Grupp)

Hungary

SZEGED

Rövid hír: „Örömmel közöljük, hogy a márc. 24.-e imaestet megtartottuk a tervek szerint a baptista imaházban.

Szépen sikerült.  A lelkész kört egy baptista és egy evangélikus lelkész képviselte.

A testvéri beszélgetések valóban kinyitották a szívünket és úgy éreztük szerves része vagyunk ennek a nagy ’álomnak’, ami az egység! Egy konkrét szikra is megszületett a lelkészekben, hogy az idei Tágas Tér fesztiválra meghívják az Együtt Európáért képviselőit.”

Address by Mons. Nunzio Galantino

Mons. Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference

«You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world».

In order to appreciate the force and the scope of this expression, we need to reflect on the preceding verses (Matthew 5:1-12), in which Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes. In this wider context, we will see that the concluding statement «You are the salt… you are the light» is by no means a praise that Jesus confers on his disciples! Instead, having proclaimed the Beatitudes, Jesus wishes to say to his disciples: Look, only if your life is spent according to the logic of the Beatitudes … are you the salt and light of the earth; only if you live following the logic of the Beatitudes does your presence contribute to adding taste and beauty to your own life and that of others.

I wanted to state this premise, because many of us still think that simply by introducing themselves as “Christians” do they deserve to be given credit, and in their being to have recognised the function of “light” (points of reference) and of “salt” (bearers of sense). This goes for us all, and probably too for all Christian traditions and for all those belonging to any faith. It seems to me that this is a temptation that can affect simply anyone, from any background, independently of their religious background. There are even those who think that by dressing or speaking in a certain way they are automatically considered as people who have the ability to confer new taste and new meaning to life!

For the Beatitudes to be followed immediately by the statement «You are the salt … you are the light», Jesus is showing the path a person of Faith must take. Jesus’ disciples follow a path clearly sign-posted by the Beatitudes. A passion for works of peace, merciful attention towards others, a life lived in poverty and marked by sobriety. This is what gives meaning and taste to the life of a believer, transforming it into a luminous life.

Instead of seeking to give taste and add splendour through tangible gestures and choices, as asked Jesus asks of us, we “busy ourselves” with showing off. Instead of giving light, we sometimes prefer to organise pompous events for show.

The Gospel however does not ask for this! Instead it gives us instructions – which at times may appear banal – as when it affirms that love is not to be shown off, but rather is to be lived; and when it is lived, it reveals itself. Therefore, things need not be shown off to be authentic, they just need to be authentic. Light is not to be put on display, it needs only to be turned on and made visible.

When Jesus states ««You are the salt … you are the light …», it is as if he was saying to us: Would you like to get to know God? Do not discuss Him, do not try to convince anyone; rather do something tangible; something beautiful, meaningful, something that can truly be savoured… So that those who see it, will spontaneously say what beautiful things you do and live! Who makes you do that? In whose name do you do that?

This is how God wants to be shown and witnessed! With the strength and clarity of light; the distinct taste of salt: through tangible choices and gestures which emanate and give life its true flavour.

Many of our pastoral choices, and many of the positions we adopt in relation to the society in which we live, especially those which bring with them a tendency to show off and convince, are in the end only distractions. They eventually cloud the one and only approach suggested by the Gospel: that of evidence/witness; which entails making choices and gestures that make evident the abundance of “taste”  in a life lived following Jesus. If the life of a believer is presented in this way, as a life replete with meaning, in short, a fullfilled life, then everything else we say, write or convey will aquire a new meaning!

So, what does is mean to be salt, to be light? What can give taste and radiance to our life of faith?

We can do it by finding new ways, opening up to new possibilities, being more daring and fighting against fatalism and the force of habit: two lethal diseases for anyone, not just believers!

We need to start smiling again in such a way that whoever meets this smile smiles in return. They will smile because they sense that they have encountered a person who is not a warmonger, someone who does not discriminate like “little souls” do. So, we need to go back to smiling and make our smiles contagious. Our being should be radiant without claiming to be blinding; and our being brings salt in the measure that emphasises other tastes without obliterating them. Just think of the bother caused by a blinding light or an excessively salty dish!

Be light and salt in the way that respects those you meet!

There is a great sensitivity required of a believer, particularly today!

We can never remind ourselves enough of Peter’s advice in his first letter: «Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience». (1 Peter 3:15-16)

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Let us pray with Matthew 5:13-16

Lord, You have asked me to be “salt”.  You have therefore asked me to remain connected to the earth, to be present in my temple, here and now. Attentive to my own needs and to the needs of those beside me.
You have asked me to be “light”, at a time when darkness appears to have thickened. The light enables me to see the outlines and colours of things, of reality and of the world in their nuance and in their beauty. It also allows me to learn of their countless needs.
Give taste, oh, Lord, to my life; make my hopes consistent; put trust into my fears; put light into my darkness, and peace into my heart, my thoughts, my feelings.
Help me understand, oh Lord, that to be “salt” means to be temperate, at this time of arrogance; a peacemaker,  at this time of overpowering; free from “things”, at this time when a person’s worth is measured by their bank account.
Help me understand, that I will be real “salt” and real “light” if I commit to denounce every western exploitation where well-being is founded on an usurpation of authenticity.
I will be “salt of the earth” if with and in my environment,
I do not renounce to look face-to-face to the needs of others.

 

Address by Andrea Riccardi

Andrea Riccardi, Founder of Community of Sant’Egidio

Dear friends,

Let us not deny it: many Europeans feel lost and disorientated. Where is Europe going? Will it resist the temptation of division? Europe does not seem to protect its citizens any more. In fact, it is travelling in the opposite direction than that envisaged by the Founding Fathers of Europe, who had a living memory of the horrors of the war, of the walls of hatred, of death camps and ruins. Today the generation that remembers that history, is gone. Not much attention is given to history, instead we busy ourselves with the current politics replete with emotions and anxieties. Resorting to war has returned to being considered as “normal”, no matter how insane this appears to those who saw how – even yesterday in Iraq or in Libya- war only begets war.

Europe cannot live without memory. If we are to be the continent of the future, we need to be the continent of memories. The great peace, which has lasted for seventy years and which was built solidly after centuries of war needs to be remembered. It is the fruit of a united Europe where peace has brought about prosperity and the development of a culture with ancient roots. This is the reality that stands out clearly, even clearer than the emotions and scares that preside over our present time. This Europe represents our peace and our prosperity.

The crisis of Europe began when it was arrested in its progress by national, group and individual selfish interests. They blocked Europe’s flight and prevented it from becoming a world leader, with a common foreign and defence policy. Not only peace for Europe, but a common peace policy for the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Africa and the world. “Europe, the gentle power” – as Tommaso Padoa Schioppa, one of the founders of the European Single Currency, used to say. These selfish interests threaten to stop and devour Europe from within. They push for self-determination and for the other to be seen as a threat. In turn borders gain a new meaning: borders to restrain immigrants, borders between generations, between rich and poor, between North and South of Europe.

Borders can turn into barriers, walls. As if to protect ‘us’ from the tragedies of the world. On the contrary. The cruel war in Syria, which has lasted for 6 years, more than the First World War, also concerns Europe. It is merely an illusion that the walls are there to protect: in reality they witness to failure. They are the Maginot line of Europe’s moral and political defeat.

In a global world, history does not have embankments, but it needs strong and coherent actors. It demands that we advance united, without turning back to seek shelter according to group or nation, in reaction to new global circumstances. There is no turning back. The boat of national self-sufficiency has sailed. Today, we have to take into account the scale of the challenges and of life. In today’s global and interdependent world, Europe, closed and divided, will be flooded by other markets and by other economic and political giants. In the narrative of globalisation, Europe needs to come more to the fore – if we want it to be a place for young people, with our identity of humanism, religion and law intact, rather than merely a retirement place for the next few years for our generation. A world without Europe will lack a power of peace and of historical wisdom.

Today, we are here gathered among Christians. The idea of Europe was not linked to a particular religion, but was itself deeply Christian. And it grew with the Church’s passion of that time. Today, however, when East and West go two separate ways, when the great European ideal, which expresses a Christian extroversion is shaking, where are the voices of Christians? And those of the Churches? When borders turn into walls in front of refugees, where are these voices? When this world is running the risk of getting involved in another war, there is often silence.

The strong voice of Pope Francis – in his address for the Charlemagne Prize – remains isolated in a Christianity as fragmented as Europe itself, incapable of leaving behind group or ecclesial ego-centrism, incapable seemingly of a new vision. Is our joint prayer, the Word of God capable, as in the time of the prophets, of nourishing a new vision for our times in the hearts and minds of our people. We need to start to think and act again in ways that are inspired by a great vision, because for too long now we have been living within narrow dimensions, feeding on words without light. Karol Wojtyla wrote at a time when Europe was divided by a wall: “the world mostly suffers from a lack of vision”.

 

Address by Gerhard Pross

Gerhard Pross, Moderator of Together for Europe

Together – for – Europe. There is no more exact way to express the importance this holds for us: Together for Europe”.

We are an ecumenical network of more than 300 Christian Communities and Movements. We come from 30 European countries, spanning from the Ural Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. We speak different languages, live in different cultures and belong to different Churches: among us are Catholics, Evangelical, Orthodox, Anglicans and members of Free Churches. We follow a variety of spiritualities each different from the other.

And yet, based on our experience, we are convinced that unity is possible. Our shared journey began with a deep moment of reconciliation among a group of leaders of our Movements. Unity became possible.

We live unity in diversity, in such a way that the uniqueness of each person remains intact. From reconciliation in Christ stems the ability to experience the diversity of the other as an enrichment.

Today in a special way, we remember three of the networks’ founders, who are now in Heaven: Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, who had the first impulse to begin; Helmut Nicklas, responsible of CVJM (YMCA) Munich, the ‘architect’ of the Together for Europe project; and Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, whose input has been precious in terms of the link between charism and ministry.

When in 2004, Together for Europe held in Stuttgart a large event for some 10,000 participants, Europe was celebrating the entry in the EU of new member states. In 2016, however, at the time of our international Congress which was followed by a large Public Rally in Munich, only three days after Brexit, the mood in Europe was quite different. We have been and continue to be aware that Europe is experiencing a period of turmoil. The European Union seemingly lurches from crisis to crisis.

In times such as these, punctured by acts of terrorism, we publicly proclaimed, with thousands of people during the 2016 event in Munich, loud and clear, our YES to Europe. “In Europe, there is no alternative to being together”, were the opening words of the concluding message in Munich.

If I may express this, in a personal way and as a spokesperson for Together for Europe… I was deeply touched by the network’s event in Munich and it put Europe on the first place on my agenda. For 17 years, we have been on this journey together, but never before has giving our YES to Europe resonated with such importance.

  • In times marked by an upsurge of populism, selfishness and nationalism we give our YES to relationship and alliance.
  • In times marked by a return of negative fanaticisms which in the past brought catastrophe upon catastrophe, we give our YES to the Gospel, to reconciliation and to love.

Within our Movements we need to wake up to the awareness of the urgency of giving our YES to Europe.

As Communities and Movements, we should not hold back in expressing publicly our YES to Europe.

We work for a Europe that is Together. For a Europe that recognises diversity as enrichment and lives together in peace and unity. And last but not least,

God, throughout history, has entrusted this Continent with the mission to connect and bring closer heaven and earth, faith and its impact on the world, since on the Cross, Heaven and earth meet.

Today on the eve of the celebrations of the “Treaties of Rome” we come together to pray and to re-state, as always, that as Christian Communities and Movements we count – besides our own commitment – on the help of God.

Europe needs our prayer.

 

 

 

 

This is the Europe we want to build

Ecumenical and International Prayer Vigil – Faith opens up to culture

On the eve of 24th of March 2017, the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles (Basilica dei XII Apostoli) in Rome was heaving with some 750 people who gathered for a Vigil commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the signing of Treaties of Rome presided by Card. Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Anglicans, clergy and lay gathered, taking up the invitation of Together for Europe, a joint initiative of over 300 Christian Movements and Communities. Together for Europe was also represented at the Vigil by a choir composed of eight Movements and by a choir of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella sent a message to the Vigil participants, in which he expressed his “desire to have been present and his firm conviction that such moments of encounter, offer a strong sign of hope, necessary in building a Europe of unity and solidarity.”

Mons. Nunzio Galantino, SecretaryGeneral of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Andrea Ricardi (founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio) and Gerhard Pross (current moderator of Together for Europe) spoke during the programme on various aspects of the crisis currently gripping the European continent, provoked by among other things, national greed on both collective and individual levels. They launched an invitation to uphold the belief of the Founding Fathers in the European project and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world (Preamble to the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, declared by Heads of State on 29th October 2004).

The Trisagion hymn “Holy God, Holy Mighty!”, sung by a gathering themselves deeply moved, sounded particularly powerful and solemn against such a backdrop.

In an interview, Fr. Heinrich Walter of the Schoenstatt Movement, emphasised: “There are two key moments on the journey towards renewed European integration. Firstly, the Christian roots of Europe ought to be nourished. This is something which the Movements have been working for. Secondly, we must respect the freedom of others. We try to do this within the Together for Europe network and we wish to share this experience of ours with all of Europe.”

After the Vigil, Symeon Catsinas, a Greek Orthodox parish priest in Rome, shared his joy: “I am very happy with this evening’s event. As Christians, we need to work together in order to offer a joint witness. It is imperative that we follow on this path together.”

When asked if the document “From Conflict to Communion” can be regarded as a model for Europe, the dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy, Pastor Heiner Bludau, said: “The document certainly shows a positive step. We now need to see its impact on life in order for it to be a convincing model for all of Europe.”

The words of high politics and those of Holy Scriptures resounded as if on the same level. Jesus Moran, Co-President of the Focolare Movement, said: “Europe is unthinkable without Christianity. Christianity which formed Europe is the Christianity of a united Church: ecumenical “Catholicism” (universality) therefore is the most fundamental reality of Europe. As such, Europe needs to rediscover itself as a civilization of Christianity. Christian values are European values and vice-versa. Culture of dialogue, tolerance, openness and brotherhood can be lived beyond any denomination, religion or creed. This Vigil will serve to re-awaken these great values.”

Over 4,000 people followed the event live and it was widely shared on social media.

In 50 European cities, parallel events of solemn prayer were held, and were well attended. The voice of Together of Europe was made heard loud and clear!

Beatriz Lauenroth

To see the complete photo gallery: //www.flickr.com/photos/fotomas2008/sets/72157681856163965

 

Christian Charisms and Europe

The contribution of Religious Orders and Institutes towards unity in Europe

During the times of the Roman Empire, Europe experienced a period characterised by a certain type of unification. This was a fragile unity forcefully imposed by “Roman legions”. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe found itself once again fragmented, with ethnic and cultural differences reasserting themselves as each of its peoples sought to restate their own sense of identity. By the 5th century, Europe was full of different rival groups.

During this period and in centuries to follow, the presence of certain men and women guided by the Spirit, inspired in the peoples of Europe new ideals and universals values, mostly rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage. They were values and ideals that brought European peoples into dialogue, sharing their respective riches and in this way generating a new, unitary social and cultural fabric for the Continent.

In a conference, a few years ago, Cardinal Walter Kasper said: “Saints like Martin, Benedict, Boniface, brothers Cyril and Methodius, Adalbert, Bernard, Francis, Dominic and many others, moulded the history of Europe. Through these saintly men and countless saintly women, the Church made a precious contribution to the unity and the sense of identity of Europe”.

These individuals gave rise to new spiritualities, spiritual movements, religious orders and centres of cultural and social works, that helped the peoples of Europe to gradually develop an identity based on shared values.

The first big charismatic order originated from Benedict of Nursia (Italy, 480-547). Benedictine Monasticism, brought about by Benedict both in Africa and in the East as well as in the West, was in its many historical expressions a determining factor for the evangelisation of the Continent whilst contributing to the formation of European medieval culture. In short, it played a crucial part in establishing the dialogue between values of the Roman civilisation, Judeo-Christian values and those of the so-called “barbarian” cultures that were introduced to the Continent by the peoples of the North and East in the centuries to follow.

The religious brothers of the order of Saint Benedict with their widely disseminated and sizable abbeys, established centres of spirituality, which also served as centres of culture, human empowerment and social and economic progress, putting themselves mostly at the service of the poor and marginalised.

In the 11th century in Eastern Europe, Cyril and Methodius, two monks of Greek origin, having evangelised peoples of Eastern Europe, started a process which, it can be argued, led to the foundation of the Slavic culture. The breakthrough of these brothers from Salonica (Greece) consisted in the creation of a new alphabet, whilst they were in contact with Western Greco-Roman culture; in this way, they made a decisive contribution to what would become the literature and culture of Slavic nations.

Between the 11th and the first half of the 12th century, other charismatic individuals and great cultural figures emerged. One of these, Bernard of Clairvaux, hailing from the tradition of Benedictine Monasticism founded a new movement, the Cistercian order.

In the 13th century the Mendicant Friars emerged giving rise to many other charismatic movements. These originated from charismatic figures in individual nations, fast developing into supra-national movements spreading all over the Continent and in turn to the rest of the world.

Among these the Dominican movement stands out, founded in Spain by Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221) and the Franciscan movement, which itself originated in Italy with Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). Religious movements whilst rooted in deep spirituality were able to inspire and promote many aspects of human culture and knowledge. They developed theology, philosophy, literature, sciences, arts. At the time and in the centuries to follow, every European university, would number among its lecturers and pupils, friars from the Mendicant orders.

With the arrival of Humanism and the Renaissance, powerful nations were established. This process was contributed to in a decisive way both by established charismatic movements as well as new charisms which grew and spread.

Many new religious orders were established in the 16th and 17th centuries. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit order; Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and the Carmelites in Spain; the Brothers of Mercy of John of God who cared for the sick; in France, Vincent de Paul and the Sisters of Charity; Francis de Sales, John Baptist de La Salle known for the formation of young people and for the setting up of schools accessible to all; Philip Neri with the Oratory, in Italy, Girolamo Emiliani, Cajetan of Thiene, Camillo de Lellis who operated in the hospitals, and so on. At around the same time the Capuchin reform emerged from the Franciscan tradition and in Germany the great reform of Martin Luther took place.

Many other new spiritualities made a key contribution to the cultural, social and economic identity of modern Europe. Each charism was born with a strong spiritual identity, while sensitive and open to issues, challenges, social and human needs of peoples and individuals. This allowed access to culture, health care, housing, human rights, economy and dignified human life to an ever-growing number of European citizens.

The same phenomenon can be seen in the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite the abolition of religious orders imposed first by Napoleon and later by several European States, countless religious institutes and orders were established. In the 19th century we cannot go without mentioning Don John Bosco and the Salesians (Turin, Italy), John Benedict Cottolengo and Joseph Cafasso, who looked after the sick and the marginalised; in England, the contribution of bishop John Henry Newman, and so on.

In the 20th century Europe, besides the establishment of new religious orders such as those set up by Don James Alberione, Don Luigi Orione, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe and others, saw the beginnings of many other expressions of charismatic life which manifested themselves as vast lay ecclesial movements. Each with its own strong spiritual identity, but also with a great sensitivity to the dramatic challenges brought to our Continent by modernity.

Europe would be poorer and more fragile were it not for the contribution offered in the past by orders and religious institutes and today by the wealth of ecclesial movements which have emerged within different Churches and Christian Communities.

These spiritual and charismatic forces, whilst born in precise geographical locations, have spread beyond national borders, offering in this way a powerful and decisive contribution to the constituting of a united, strong, free, sympathetic and brotherly Europe.

Fr Egidio Canil, Sacro Convento of the Franciscans in Assisi, Italy

Europe: inconceivable without fraternity

17th February 2017, Chapter House of San Salvatore in Lauro, Rome (Italy): Together for Europe at the Conference of Association “City for Fraternity”

After the welcome by President Milvia Monachesi, a series of reflections on the potential and the challenges of the European continent followed. Among the speakers were Donato Falmi, former Director of the Italian Publishing House New City, Marco Filippeschi, Mayor of Pisa and President of the ‘League for Autonomies’ (Lega per le Autonomie) as well as Ms Silvia Costa, European Parliament MP and Coordinator of the S&D Committee on Culture and Education. Ms Costa concluded her remarks stating that: “Europe is inconceivable without fraternity”.

Under the heading Europe: Freedom, Equality and… Fraternity? A Chance for Today, the experience of the network Together for Europe, presented by Diego Goller (Italy) and Ilona Toth (Hungary) highlighted the action taken by Communities and Movements belonging to various Christian Churches and how, drawing on their rich spiritual and cultural patrimony, they aim to contribute towards greater European unity.

In his contribution, Diego Goller said: “It is often thought that uniting Europe means uniting European cities. This is because it is in the cities that the most pressing issues that require solutions exist. People also say: ‘act locally, think globally’. Perhaps we could rather say that what we need today is to ‘think locally, act globally’. This is because ideas stem from life, on the ground, in suburbs, whilst issues which cause concern in our cities often originate on a global level.“ Speaking in this context about Together for Europe, Mr Goller continued: “Chiara Lubich said from the network’s early stages that ‘TOGETHER’ stands for ‘brotherhood, fraternity’; and ‘Europe’ is a synonym of ‘political’, because Together for Europe works for a political project in the broadest sense of the term.”

During its 17 years of existence Together for Europe matured an identity, which in the concluding message of the event called “Stuttgart 2007” was expressed through a number of “YES” commitments to certain social realities, aimed at making European cities more welcoming and more open to different cultures”, said Ilona Toth. Ms Toth quoted a French sociologist Prof. Michael Hochschild, who, when asked about hope for the future at the recent Together for Europe event in Munich 2016, said: “The answer lies within the Movements themselves, creative forces of social or even religious character. Their faith, their commitment and most of all their trust are valuable assets for overcoming the crisis of our society because they make us believe in the future. This is the reason why spiritual Movements ought to see themselves more and more as creative cultural forces and act accordingly. In a way, they need to become social Movements”.

Alcide de Gasperi, one of the Founding Fathers of Europe, already in 1952 formulated an invitation to democratic dialogue, which is still valid today: “We need to choose: do we speak, discuss, appeal to reason and to human abilities? Or rather do we resort to force, orders and imposition of one person’s will over others? (…) In the past, the inability to agree, to have a meaningful discussion, to convene in an Assembly and negotiate about peace, often resulted in conflicts and even wars. Is striving for peace, creating peaceful processes and establishing institutions to guarantee peace not preferable?”

Expressing gratitude for the welcome invitation to attend the Conference and to collaborate, Diego Goller said: “Let us work together so that our homes, communities and cities become laboratories of friendship and fraternity, capable of facilitating integration and of opening up to the whole world”.

The Conference concluded with a conferral ceremony of the Chiara Lubich Fraternity Prize. In its 8th edition, this award was conferred to the Municipality of Assisi, a city where, as stated during the conferral of the award, 600 years before the three principles of Modernity (Freedom, Equality and Fraternity) emerged from the French revolution, the word Fraternity was already echoing throughout the works of Francis.

For more information see: www.cittaperlafraternita.org/europa-e-fraternita-binomio-impegnativo

For video footage from the Conference see: //youtu.be/edJSuqMdDaI

Prayer for Carinthia in the Provincial Government building

On Friday 27th January 2017, in the “Green Room” of the Provincial Government building of Carinthia (South Austria) an unusual event was held: a gathering to pray for the province.

The initiative came from the group Together for Europe, which has as its aim to give expression to Europe’s Christian identity. Representatives of different Churches and from different social, political and cultural spheres came together in prayer. The Outi & Lee duo provided musical accompaniment at the event.

“We hope this initiative will benefit this House”, commented Mr Reinhart Roth, President of the Provincial Government of Carinthia, while thanking organisers of the event. Local Councillor Ms Ruth Feistritzer, representing the Mayor, was also in attendance.

Together for Europe numbers more than 300 Christian Movements, Communities and Missionary Works around Europe. “We seek that which unites – among Christians and in society in general; we say Yes to Life, Family, Creation, Fair Economy, Solidarity, Peace and Responsibility”, said Manfred and Fini Wieser, Coordinators of the Together for Europe group of Carinthia.

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

“(…) 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)

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

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: //w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/may/documents/papa-francesco_20160506_premio-carlo-magno.html

Message from Munich 2016

Together for Europe. Encounter. Reconciliation. Future. 
Munich – Bavaria, 2nd July 2016

There is no alternative to being together     

“United in diversity”. This European hope is more than ever relevant.  Europe must not become a fortress and build new frontiers.  There is no alternative to being together. Being together in reconciled diversity is possible.

The Gospel – a source of hope    

Jesus Christ prayed for unity and gave his life for it.  This is stated in the Gospel, which for almost 2,000 years has played a key role in the culture of Europe. Jesus Christ teaches us boundless love for all people.  He shows us the path of mercy and reconciliation. We can ask forgiveness and forgive one another.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a powerful source from which we can draw hope for the future.

Europe – a culture of respect and esteem  

The terrible experiences of two World Wars have taught us that peace is a precious gift that we must preserve.  Our future must be characterised by a culture of respect and esteem for others, even for strangers.

Unity is possible – Overcoming divisions  

We ask all Christians, especially Church leaders, to overcome the divisions.  These have caused suffering, violence and injustice, and have undermined the credibility of the Gospel.  As Christians we want to live together as people who are reconciled and in full communion.

Our commitment     

  • We live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bear witness to it with our words and deeds.
  • We are pursuing the path of reconciliation and working to enable our communities, Churches, peoples and cultures to live “unity in diversity”.
  • We meet people of different beliefs and faiths with respect, seeking dialogue with them.
  • We are committed to building up humanity and peace in the world.
  • We have a vision for Europe being together in a way that is stronger than fear or selfishness.
  • We place our trust in the Holy Spirit who continually renews and gives life to the world.

“In summary…”

…the Together for Europe Munich experience (30.6 – 2.7.2016) had it all: ENCOUNTER with a great variety of people, single-minded in their determination to face up together to the FUTURE, as well as testimonials of RECONCILIATION that showed how a journey together is possible. In the context of recent events in Munich and elsewhere, the message of Together for Europe is now more timely and urgent than ever.

Here are some impressions from participants (in the original language):
  • München zeigte ein tiefes echtes Gesicht eines Europa, das sich auf Gott und die Welt öffnet. Es wurde verständlich und erfahrbar: Miteinander geht es, Miteinander aller Charismen und Gaben. Der Glaube, die Liebe und die Offenheit führen zur Entängstigung…
  • Magnifique rassemblement avec le souffle des origines et qui ouvre un nouvel avenir pour Ensemble pour l’Europe. Une lumière et une espérance dans une Europe qui en a bien besoin! Remarquable organisation de nos amis allemands.
  • I am British and have always had a very strong sense of being European, and part of a positive process of unification. It was a challenge coming to Munich a week after Brexit, knowing that everyone would ask my opinion about it. I was initially very sad, but I know that being European and being Christian is a bigger idea than any particular political process or institution, and that unity will go ahead anyway. The positive attitude and support of a very impressive list of Christian leaders was very important and can only further this process. The young people present were a great witness to things already happening , and a hope for a better future.
  • Ho colto la profondità, il desiderio di continuare sempre più insieme per una nuova Europa nel cammino della pace costruita sui valori comuni del dialogo e dell’amore. Non abbiamo paura, andiamo avanti, nella certezza che Dio Amore ci precede sempre, a noi tutti gli sforzi, a Lui la gloria del Suo Amore passato dalle nostre azioni positive.
  • Das Podium „Zukunft der Gesellschaft – Auftrag und Verantwortung der jungen Generation“ erfüllte aber voll und ganz meine Erwartungen: Junge Leute, die von ihrem Glauben und ihrer Jugendarbeit innerhalb ihrer Gemeinschaft berichteten. Mir gefiel es sehr gut, mich endlich mit anderen Jugendlichen, die sowohl ähnliche als auch komplett verschiedene Ansichten als ich hatten, auszutauschen und zu diskutieren.
  • Ho capito che anche i piccoli come me possono fare qualcosa per l’Europa, nella stessa strada dei grandi, per iniziare questa unione spirituale dell’Europa, gli uni per gli altri.
  • Hi everyone, I did watch this wonderful event which was a wonderful way to involve people like me around the world in Unity with all ‘People of Good Will’. God’s choicest blessings on everyone who organised this and those who took part. We are meant to be together and not live selfish lives in isolation from our neighbour.
  • Il fatto che ci siamo trovati in un circo mi suggerisce che è importante mettersi in gioco come fanno i protagonisti del circo, giocarsi la vita  per essere di aiuto agli altri.
  • J’ai beaucoup apprécié ce moment à Munich. Maintenant avec toute l’équipe de Lyon nous nous engageons à diffuser ce que nous avons vécu. Bien avec chacun.
  • Insgesamt bin ich sehr dankbar für die Erfahrung der Veranstaltung in München und trage die Erlebnisse und Begegnungen noch lebendig in mir. Vor allem verbinde ich mich im Gebet Tag für Tag weiterhin mit allen, die dort waren, und habe die Hoffnung, dass das Wunder der Einheit der Kirchen eines Tages von Gott geschenkt wird. (…) Für alles, was bei der Kundgebung am Stachus auf der Bühne geboten wurde, kann ich nur meine Anerkennung aussprechen.
  • Anche l’aprire e chiudere l’ombrello (…) non ha distolto da un clima di unità, di gioia, di profondità che ho avvertito. Mi è sembrata la manifestazione della speranza.

Live from Munich – 3nd Day

“Yes to bridges of mercy. Yes to discovering others and their rich heritage. Yes to understanding that we are truly “one thing only”, that there is a unity and a fraternity to be worked for and that we must find the ways to “break down” the many “dividing walls” “. These were the words of Andrea Riccardi, founder of  the Sant’Egidio Community, red by Marco Impagliazzo (president), expressing the spirit and the commitment of the 5000 participants, present in Karlsplatz (Stachus) in Munich, on july 2, for the final Outdoor Rally of Together for Europe 2016.

Unity is possible; reconciliation opens up the future; a culture of relationship and mercy; mission and future; were the four main guidelines of the afternoon. Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement invited everyone to “sign” a solemn commitment for unity: “We commit ourselves here, today, to be catalysts of this change, catalysts for a new vision for Europe, so as to speed up the journey towards unity by starting a profound dialogue with and for all the men and women on earth”.

Among the messages of greetings, Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church Bartolomew I send their support.

Testimonies of reconciliation between churches and communities followed: “Reconciliation opens to the future”, stated Gerhard Pross from the Streering Committee of Together for Europe: “Although we are and will be different, we want to live in unity, to be enriched by our diversities and spread it to our cities and allover Europe.”

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Rome) explained that a universal network of friendship exists from 15 years, and Bishop Frank Otfried July, vice-president of the Lutheran World Federation: “There are many experiences that we are living together as churches: we work for refugees, we pray together; we want Christ to be the center of Europe”.

The Metropolitan of the Orthodox Romanian Church of Germany, Central and Northern Europe Seraphim Joanta (Nuremberg) shared joys and sorrows of his mission: “We suffer for the fundamentalist forces that threaten to destroy the efforts of unity among Christians. Moreover young people are missing  in our churches. But we trust in Christ and in this network of brothers”. Then a poignant and prophetic moment followed: several representatives of Christian Churches and movements have pronounced the “Our Father”: “It is a prophetic sign of reconciliation and forgiveness” – explained Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary General of the WCC – a sign that we don’t want to forget ever again”.

The voice of youth was powerful and full of hope: “I dream a Europe more friendly and less individualistic, said Mary of Czech Republic -“Europe begins with me, because I am Europe”.

“Together” is another keyword of Together for Europe: “In 2017, there will be the Jubilee of the Reformation – told the Evangelical Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, president of the Lutheran Confederation in Germany – and we want to live it together: Evangelical and Catholics”.

And Card. Reinhard Marx of Munich, president of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference: “We have to recognize the signs of unity we are already living: we are not separated, we want to witness Christ together.”

The final message, read by the leaders of Christian Churches and communities expressed the fruits of the common path and the next steps to be taken: “Europe must not become a fortress and build new frontiers. There is no alternative to being together. We ask all Christians (…) to overcome the divisions. Our commitment: we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bear witness to it with our words and deeds. We are committed to building up humanity and peace in the world.”