Reality ought to be faced in light of our calling: this enables us to read and understand together the signs of the times and act accordingly. This is what the Meeting of Together for Europe was all about.
All controls are in place: the green pass, the wrist temperature, the mask and social distancing. However, there’s more. Here, the persons have also an invisible ’green pass’: it’s their ‘Yes’ to their vocation to promote Togetherness in line with their fidelity to the ‘pact of mutual love’. It’s quite evident that today’s humanity is facing unprecedented challenges, and this almost makes it compulsory for us to be united, work together and sustain one another. No one found this an easy task. Marco Impagliazzo, President of the St Egidio Community, stated: “I thank you for having knocked on my door with perseverance; indeed, that’s why I’m here”. Each one had to put aside something: commitments, urgent matters or worries regarding travelling, as, for example, Fr Juan Pablo Catoggio, leader of the Schönstatt Presedium, had to do.
We’re talking about the meeting of the Steering Committee, at last in person, which was held at the International Centre of the Focolare Movement in Castel Gandolfo (Rome), with several leaders of Communities and Movements belonging to various Churches. The latter included Hansjörg Kopp (General Secretary, YMCA Germany) and Martin Bühlmann (Vineyard, Switzerland and Germany). After a day of sharing and work, the evening appointment was an online meeting with various persons that form part of the ecumenical network so as to renew the shared mission for Europe, which is, as the title of the Meeting suggested: moving from polarization toward a reconciled diversity through reconciliation.
Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, arrived on foot because of the heavy traffic. After expressing her gratitude, the first thing she said was that she was there to learn for the others. The sharing of lived-out experiences during the pandemic, the shared doubts and the challenges that need to be tackled rendered the meeting a school of communion. No one was in a hurry. Even Jesús Moran, Co-President of the Focolare Movement, stayed for lunch: this was an opportunity to know each other better and to clarify ideas and points of view.
The much-awaited 6th November ZOOM Meeting based in Castel Gandolfo was open on the whole of Europe. After a few minutes of meditation and prayers, we set upon a journey that took us from East to West, and from North to South of our Continent. We listened to persons with the ‘green pass’ of Togetherness sharing how they helped others in their material and spiritual needs, thus sowing hope around them. These contributions provided a framework for two keynote speeches: by Gerhard Pross >>, Moderator of Together for Europe, and by Margaret Karram >>. The evening prayers, which were prepared by several persons, were conducted in four languages and reached a climax with the ‘pact of mutual love’, according to John 13, 34, which was renewed in many languages.
The chat feedbacks were many; they expressed gratitude for the keynote speeches, the lived-out experiences and the encouragement provided. One stated: “It’s a strong message that is, at the same time, full of hope based on the certainty that the Lord of history is with us, in our midst, if we tread His pathway of Unity”. And another, using a poetic form: “Together for Europe seems to be ‘an underground river, which one cannot see, but which is constantly moving, dragging stuff, excavating, joining others and then one day it will return to the surface; we don’t know where and when this will happen, but when it does it will transform the territories it hits’”.
The monitors were switched off, and off we went. In 2022 we hope to be able to greet each other in person in Portugal, enriched with new experiences. Our ‘green pass’ allows us to reach “all boundaries”– as Gerhard Pross put it – and “adopt a perspective of the Kingdom of God that is wider and more complete”.
In her final greeting, Margaret Karram summed up: “Reconciled diversity, in which we believe because we have experienced it already, may mark a new step forward for Together for Europe in the coming years. It may indicate the program on which to base our living and our initiatives”. Indeed, it’s a program that goes beyond Europe.