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.
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: 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
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.
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.
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
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).
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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45529817
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
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
Vedi anche il breve video:
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.
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.”
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Titelbild: “Dank-Sterne” für Europa (Foto: Valerian Grupp)
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.”
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)
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.
Andrea Riccardi, Founder of Community of Sant’Egidio
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”.
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.
Hon. David-Maria Sassoli, Member of the European Parliament, Italy, Democratic Party
Honourable Sassoli, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which marks the beginning of the European Union, many point out that Europe has lost its Christian roots, placing too much emphasis perhaps on finance, bureaucracy and national interests, incapable of showing solidarity and welcome, or encouraging development focused on the human person. What are your thoughts?
“It is important that Christians make themselves heard more, there should be networks among Christians which would provide a witness and example to others. There is no doubt, values such as peace, co-existence, solidarity and justice, which are of Christian origin, are today also considered as paradigms of political, cultural and moral commitment by citizens who are not themselves Christian. These are the key values that constitute European identity: something Christians ought to be happy with, because within what is considered the European identity, as such, are these precisely Christian values. What needs to be done now is to explain everything well to European citizens. Currently the idea of Europe frightens and makes people anxious. It appears burdensome, instead we need to show the value of unity to the peoples of Europe. What is also at stake here, the challenge for this Century, is to shape a global market. Globalisation without rules leads to marginalisation, poverty and misery, and environmental catastrophes. The great challenge Europe continues to face is to give rules and values to the world. Market rules which do not successfully safeguard human rights, freedom and democracy would be merely economic allowing the stronger to win, and this is not what we want. So, the challenge is this: Christian values which are at the basis of European identity today must provide the key elements to face this great global challenge”.
In the context of overcoming the divisions between countries that are economically more or less developed, we often speak about a “two-tier Europe”, what is your view on this?
“If this means that there would be countries of class A and class B, then that is wrong. Instead, if it means that non-member countries can collaborate, under the ‘closer cooperation’ provision of the Lisbon Treaty, in the context of joint policies, without upsetting EU standards, then it could be interesting. This is how the euro was introduced – with a closer cooperation starting from ten, eleven countries and others joined in later. Because within EU mechanisms it is effectively difficult to achieve unanimity. If there were countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium and others which were to opt for a common defence solution, that would be great: we would have a core which would lead the way that others might follow”.
There has been much discussion about the necessity to review the Treaties. It was underlined also by Pope Francis in his speech at the European Parliament in May 2016, on the occasion of the Conferral of Charlemagne Prize. In what way do you believe they need to be modified?
“They should be changed, I would be in favour of arriving eventually at a European Constitution, but realistically and with regret I need to say that currently it might be very dangerous to re-open a discussion on the Treaties, so one needs to be very careful. Who knows what the outcome would be for Europe if we reopened the debate on Schengen with the current nationalist governments afraid of the influx of immigrants? It is better to focus on those policies which can contribute to developing Europe, because beyond institutions, rules and treaties, that is what is now needed most of all”.
Claudia Di Lorenzi
Luca Maria Negro, Baptist Pastor, President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI)
An event like the one tonight, where different Christian Churches unite in prayer shows that unity in diversity is possible. How can one reconcile the affirmation and safeguarding of own’s identity and traditions with the encounter and openness to the other?
“As an ecumenical body, we have had experience of this dynamic for over 50 years, because our Movement has as its motto ‘united but different’, that is to say united whilst respecting the charism of each of the churches. This is close also to the motto of the European Union, indeed we are not sure whether it derives deliberately from the Ecumenical Movement’s motto, in any case we believe that today it is more valid than ever before. Unfortunately, it appears as if Europe has lost its soul. We do not want to arrogantly claim to be the soul of Europe, however, as Churches we wish to strongly witness that ecumenism, dialogue, building of societies in dialogue, and the promotion of lay ecumenism within society are essential”.
To recover those Christian values that constitute Europe’s very foundations means to offer a heritage pertinent to all peoples, not only to Christians…
“As protestants, we do not emphasise the recovering of Christian values in any particular way as not to seem to want to force them also on those who do not share our faith. There are, however, values such as dialogue and solidarity, which are also Christian and which can be shared by all people of good will. This is what we aim for, the rediscovery of values out of which Europe was born. Because let us not forget that while it is true that many Christians contributed to the growth of Europe, there were also many others who founded it. Over the last days, we recalled the fact that the European Federalist Movement in Italy started in the house of a Waldensian, Mario Alberto Rollier, there were however others, non-believers such as Altiero Spinelli, meeting together and working to build a united Europe”.
How do people learn, in practical terms, to dialogue?
“How do people learn to walk? By practicing walking. The same goes for dialogue. You need to make a start, to come out of yourself. You will make mistakes, because at times it is easy to, despite your best will, hurt the other and their feelings. In this context, the Ecumenical Movement certainly has much experience to offer to those who are new to dialogue”.
Claudia Di Lorenzi
Dr. Donato Falmi, former Director of the Italian New City Publishing House and Co-responsible for the Focolare Movement in Rome and Central Italy
Looking at Europe today, divided and lost, it seems that Chiara Lubich had a prophetic intuition, back in 1999, when she began establishing an international ecumenical network of Christian Movements…
“It was prophetic in that Chiara had foreseen the obstacles that unity in Europe would encounter, and the need for a fundamental, perhaps hidden spiritual force capable of facing up to the negative and disintegrating tendencies present in Europe today. When Chiara lunched this idea, the European ideal was still popular, today it needs to be rediscovered. Had we not had the experience of this journey together, we would be ill equipped to face today’s challenges. It is, beyond any declaration of principles, a practical way of giving Europe back its Christian soul, putting Christianity back as the foundation of Europe (…). The experience made together by Movements and Churches belonging to different ‘Christian souls’ – because Christianity is made up of one reality with many different expressions – might be just the right way to show that Europe has a Christian foundation. In this sense, Chiara’s intuition was ingenious”.
Pope Francis emphasised dialogue as the one thing needed in order to build Europe with more unity and solidarity. And it is in dialogue that the Focolare Movement, since its very beginnings, has found a path to unity. What does it mean to lead a dialogue – and how can one learn how to dialogue?
“Chiara makes a rediscovery of the nature of God itself, of God who is love. Another term for ‘love’, a term that expresses the dynamics of a loving relationship, is ‘dialogue’. What is more dialogic than love? On the other hand, there is no real dialogue without love. This is because dialogue requires a welcoming of the other and forgetting of self (not negation of self, but a sort of stepping back in order to welcome another). That is a basic rule. Once it has been established, dialogue becomes fundamentally the only way to achieve unity, because it both respects diversity whilst focusing on what is good and what unites”.
In the last years, there has been a proliferation of populist and so-called sovereignty movements. Perhaps Europe needs an examination of conscience to ask itself what went wrong and where to go next?
“What we are witnessing is a result of Europe’s focus on material wellbeing. Europe has developed to the benefit of the entire world, with values such as those summed up by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and signed by the world leaders, it has, however, also been affected by the temptation to settle on wellbeing of a material character, forgetting the depths of the human person. In achieving the highest objectives of human civilisation, Europe also reached a level of wellbeing which made it forget deeper preconditions of civil co-existence. Today we are paying the price for this. We have, nevertheless, also been rediscovering forgotten values, and becoming aware that material well-being has its own value in the right place, together with other values which need to come first.”
Claudia Di Lorenzi
Ecumenical Prayer Vigil for Europe, 24th March 2017 – Interview with Card. Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Your Eminence, this Vigil prayer which has brought together different Christian denominations shows that unity in diversity is possible. What sort of example can an evening such as this offer to a Europe still divided and torn on basic issues?
“This Prayer evening has been organised by Movements belonging to different Churches: there is a great variety and diversity present, however there is also unity, all of us are together – for Europe. This reconciliation between unity and diversity is very important for Europe, which is called to embody unity without negating diversity. In fact, there needs to be a greater understanding of diversity in order for all of countries to contribute effectively to building unity”.
One of the objectives of this group which unites different Christian Movements is to identify so-called “signs of the time”, that is to say, those signals which at any given time in human history indicate the direction in which humanity is advancing, however slowly towards unity. Can you yourself discern such signs?
“The greatest challenge of today is related to the influx of refugees. The challenge is for Europe to welcome them, to be open to them. There is a saying: “If I only know England I don’t really know England”, of course this saying is equally valid for any other country, like Italy or France, etc. So, realising that the other is not my enemy, is a good thing: once this has been established, everything will proceed well”.
Pope Francis stressed that peace is achieved through integration, dialogue and work, and that for Europe work is, on the political level, a priority. What is your view in this regard?
“It is fundamental that everyone be able to access employment. This is a big challenge because it concerns the very dignity of the human person. Within the working environment then what matters is collaboration, that there be no contempt between co-workers… So, the opportunity for everyone to access dignified employment clearly contributes to the unity of Europe”.
Claudia Di Lorenzi
Fr. Heinrich Walter, Responsible for International Coordination of the Schoenstatt Movement
In your view, what contribution can Pope Francis offer to the building of a Europe in which there is more solidarity and more inspiration drawn from Christian values?
“Being of Argentinian origin, I believe the Pope sees Europe differently than we do, more objectively, and understands that Europe is frightened and as a result is lacking vitality. Pope Francis is enthusiastic and understands very well that what the world as a whole needs its renewal.”.
What witness can Christian Churches united in their diversity offer Europe?
“In this Europe in crisis countries lack the ability to offer solutions based on their own individual resources. Some countries have suffered excessive pressure due to the refugee emergency situation. What is needed is an alliance among the countries of Europe, so that each can offer a contribution freely to an overall solution”.
Claudia Di Lorenzi
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, Secretary–General 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!
To see the complete photo gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fotomas2008/sets/72157681856163965
With the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome approaching, people in European cities gather to give witness to a Europe focused more than ever on dialogue and brotherhood. Trieste is one of them.
60 years ago, the Founding Fathers of Europe took the first steps on a path which would lead to greater European unity against the stench of blood and smoke and the rubble of a war driven by nationalist and racist extremism in Europe and which subsequently spread throughout the world. Only a comprehensive reformation including international, political, civic, economic, cultural and religious relationships between peoples and communities would be capable of paving a new way to help Europeans to emerge from a culture of widespread hatred.
60 years after the historic days which marked the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957, we re-affirm European unity as the indispensable means to maintaining peace and peaceful co-existence. Despite the failings, undeniable gaps, rigidities, bureaucratic excesses, misunderstandings and serious inequalities of the European Union, the advantages of the re-composition of Europe largely prevail. We must strive to continue on and to perfect the path we have undertaken, rather than obliterate it, as called for by nationalist and separatist voices, something that would only serve to draw us back into peace-threatening situations.
More than four million young European students have benefited from the Erasmus program in terms of formation and knowledge. Equally significant has been the number of European professionals, who have taken advantage of the freedom afforded by mobility within the EU which has facilitated the acquisition of expertise, as well as increased cultural, technological, commercial and economic exchange. Many young people have put themselves at the service of other European countries to their own, through the European Voluntary Service. A broad scholarly exchange has been made possible thanks to collaborations between universities. Improvements across a range of areas such as occupational and environmental safety, health care, tourism and culture, have been achieved through European directives that are reflected in national legislation. Religious communities have also set in motion processes for unification and integration extending to all Christian Churches and every religion.
We cannot afford to give up such benefits. Instead we must intensify and uphold this model for the sake of all European peoples who have suffered enough. In order to re-affirm this commitment, we will meet on 24th of March at 6pm in St. James’ Oratory (Oratorio di S. Giacomo) in Trieste for an evening of celebration marking this 60th anniversary. Promoting the event are approximately twenty associations, movements and communities, that all form part of a broader initiative called Together for Europe, which for the last 17 years has been active in many European cities, including Trieste. Together for Europe brings together the faithful of different religions, non-believers and people of good will who, rather than conflict seek peace and encounter. This will be an evening of reflection, brotherhood and celebration motivated by our own awareness of the urgent need to rediscover the importance of coming together in solidarity.
For the Coordination team of Together for Europe for Trieste, Italy
Photo Trieste: Di ryogt www.flickr.com/photos/ryogt/12980775/, CC BY-SA 2.0
The European dream has been, since its very beginning, an opportunity to overcome the mutual distrust and misconceptions which have existed between European peoples for centuries.
Throughout the history of European integration, issues pertinent to young people were often overshadowed by other, no less important topics, such as ecology or workers’ rights. This began to change in the 1990s and especially from 2000, when several educational youth exchange programmes including ‘Erasmus Mundus’ for university students as well as employment support programmes such as the Italian ‘Garanzia Giovani’ Projects were set up.
For young people, a united Europe is an enticing prospect. Many see it as an opportunity to form a broad community of men and women within which to seek points of contact between cultures and traditions stemming from a shared root. Europe represents an opportunity to work and travel, expand one’s horizons and transcend one’s own narrow national borders. Young people’s protests over Brexit calling for a review of the vote, expressed a strong desire to belong to a Europe with shared values.
Young people’s prevailing vision of Europe is not, however, entirely reassuring or optimistic. People of our generation are asking themselves whether the promises of material and spiritual wellbeing, equality and charity between European nations is being upheld. Currently, Italy has a youth unemployment of 40%. Whether the fault for this lies with successive Italian governments or with the European Union, the result is the same: a lack of jobs translates into a lack of dignity (as both Benedict XVI and Francis pointed out). The European reaction to the economic and fiscal crisis has been slow and insufficient and ended up only deepening inequality and causing more suffering. Whilst 5 or 6 years ago, no voices objected to the European project, today, many are tempted to give up on what appears to be a futile dream. Young people are fully aware of these difficulties. As shown by voting preferences in Italy, Spain and France, the so-called “Erasmus generation” has lost some of its lustre for the European dream.
Were the future of the young people considered by those who govern Europe, this situation could be revolutionised. What sort of future lies ahead? What world will we live in? One where society is divided, unjust and full of fear, or another where society is united and reassuring towards its citizens, safeguarding the Rule of Law and looking towards a hopeful future? The latter option is only made possible by a united Europe. To save young people’s future, sacrifices are required by those currently in power. This is not about cutting down on cars and salaries. That goal has already been achieved with perhaps excessive alacrity. Rather, the real sacrifice consists in the ability to give up one’s own power for the greater good. Why, for example, has a European department of Finance not been established? We are a Union with a currency but without a State. Why does the concept of European diplomacy as such, not exist? Maintaining official diplomatic relations among countries belonging to, what is effectively, a quasi-federation, where ministers speak to each other daily, is simply a waste of money. Why is the appointment of the President of the European Commission not done through an election process? Having such an election process within the public sphere, could bring more accountability at the top and more awareness at the roots. Why is this not happening or if it is, why in such a lethargic fashion?
Those who are Christian have an answer. They understand the difference between power used for one’s own aims and power exercised as a duty of care sustaining communities. Young people are undoubtedly prepared to support the European dream, provided that it stems from a community of men and women, not from selfish interests or mere regulations. Only through shared objectives and an awareness of a joint destiny can a cultural leap be taken which Europe is calling for. A leap which can be made from one day to another because, as was said before, it is people’s choice that changes the course of history.
by Federico Castiglioni (Rome, 17/11/88). Holds a Degree in Political Science and is currently pursuing a PhD in European and International studies at the University of Rome III. Federico has published a number of academic and lay articles on the theme of European topicality and the role of the European Union in a globalised world. He is also responsible for External Relations in the Italian section of JEF (Young European Federalists) and acts as Italian delegate for the European Youth Forum.
“(…) 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|
“(…) 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
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)
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
60 Years after the Treaties of Rome: A French Point of View
So here we are! While not all countries are represented we did manage to get a total of 28 countries who will share in the celebrations of the past 60 years of Europe. On the 25th of March 1957, the date of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, just 6 countries stipulated the establishment of the European Economic Community, which in 1992 became European Union. France was one of those 6 determined countries. Lead by the ideas of Jean Monnet, voiced by Robert Schuman, the French accepted this great European idea.
Seen as an instrument of peace and stability, this idea of Europe was put at the service of European countries to enable an easier and speedier reconstruction of the continent. Successive French leaders considered Europe among other things (but perhaps most of all) as a springboard towards greater power and influence on the European stage. Love for the French fatherland, protection of national values and French influence characterised the French actions throughout the process of European integration. As recalled by General De Gaulle in 1954: touching French sovereignty was not part of the “European contract”. France has maintained this same attitude to date.
The great French Founding Fathers, who loved Europe as much as they loved France itself, were succeeded by an inspired lineage. Many French presidents (in the first instance Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) continued to work for the European cause. D’Estaing (like Jacques Delores), inherited the ideals of the Founding Fathers, allowing for a vision of a European Union of a more political character: a union of European peoples, united but respectful of diversity of each culture and religion.
In 2005, on the occasion of the treaty referendum to establish the European Constitution, the French vote expressed clearly that leaders and politics can only do so much, they are powerless without popular consent. The treaty was rejected by the majority of French people. The French could not have been clearer in their view of the Union on this occasion. This motif has been often repeated by the French since: while the European Union is necessary, more Europe would be “too much”. Why too much? Because the French just as other European peoples resist the idea of being incorporated into a supranational Europe, where there would be no distinction between a French and Italian person, where the distinction and sovereignty of each country would be absorbed by an “All-European” model.
If the French accept the current model of Europe today, it is owing to the fact that they feel valued in their identity and socio-economic order. More importantly, the French accept Europe, because they share the principle values underlying 1957: solidarity, freedom, peace and fraternity among peoples. All these values are mostly of Christian origin and represent how the French see Europe. Leaving out specific religious implications they feel attached to its moral foundations that constitute the basis of today’s Europe. Although reflecting on and claiming such values does not always translate into action – as shown by the current refugee crisis – it continues to be true that the French feel that they constitute part of this European reality.
On 25th March 2017 in Rome, the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome will be celebrated. It is a reminder of how young Europe in reality is! Various events, and conventions as well as the March for Europe which mark the occasion, will be memorable moments in themselves. Besides the need for a European political re-launch, it will become an opportunity for recalling those Christian values shared by all European peoples. These values will be, in my view, the foundation for a new launch of Europe, since they are the only ones that embody not fear but unity.
By Marie Trélat. Marie is a French student of Political Science, specialising in the European Union and Eastern and Central European related topics. Marie currently lives in Rome and attends the LUISS Guido Carli University through the Erasmus Mundus Project. She is a member of the Rome branch of JEF (Young European Federalists) and works in the area of International Relations for JEF. She also worked for the French branch of Vatican Radio for a period of 5 months.
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.
TREATIES OF ROME AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
On 25th March 1957, the Treaties of Rome were signed. They are considered the inaugural act of the great European family of countries. The first treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC), whilst the second set up Euratom, aimed at joined research for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The EEC Treaty brought together the signatories France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands in a Community with the objective, as stated by Art. 2, of establishing a Common market and promoting the development of optimal economic conditions for exchange and production within the Community.
There was also a political objective, to contribute towards building a new political identity for Europe, directed towards broader unification. As stated by the signatories in the preamble to the Treaty: «determined to establish the foundations of an ever-closer union among the European peoples».
The Treaties of Rome were preceded by the so-called Treaty of Paris of 1951, through which the European Community of Steel and Coal (ECSC) was established. Through shared control over these industries the aim was to avoid any potential one-sided rearming of any one member state.
The attempts to promote greater unity within the European union on political and economic fronts stemmed from the desire after the second World War to integrate European states in such a way as to render impossible another armed conflict.
«For future peace, the creation of a dynamic Europe is indispensable. (…) We must therefore abandon the forms of the past and enter the path of transformation (…). Europe has never existed. It is not the addition of sovereign nations met together in councils that makes an entity of them. We must genuinely create Europe» (Jean Monnet, Memorandum, 3th May 1950).
«World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. (…) Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity» (Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950).
«Let us build peace within and without, and in order to achieve this, let us show discipline, order, good will and hard work. Let us seek better ways to share the goods of the earth and overcome difficulties. These are part of life, but can be won, if people are ready to make sacrifices, conscious that in order to succeed a complete faith in the Divine Providence is required» (Alcide De Gasperi, 20th April 1950).
The vicissitudes of Europe, from extraordinary thrusts to sudden halts brought about in the following years the ratification of further treaties (https://europa.eu/european-union/law/treaties_en) and the establishment of institutions among which, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
Written by Maria Bruna Romito, Focolare Movement. Maria Bruna holds a degree in history. From 1989 to 2000 she lived in Hungary, where she taught Italian and history at the Catholic University of Budapest. She currently lives in Rome and works at the Pontifical Council for Culture.