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
As with previous years, following the international meeting of »Friends of Together for Europe« – this time in Castel Gandolfo – the responsible for the Movements and Communities of Slovenia met together.
24 participants represented the following 8 Movements: Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Neocatechumenal Way, Prayer and Life Workshops, Emmanuel Community, Couples for Christ, Christian Life Community, Molitva i Riječ [Prayer and Word] and Focolare Movement. For the first time two bishops were present at the meeting – Mons. Stanislav Zore OFM (Archbishop of Ljubljana) and Geza Filo (Lutheran Bishop of Slovenia).
After the initial welcome, prayer and introductions, we recapped 17 years of our journey Together. A video presentation which included contributions on the theme of reconciliation from leaders of the Churches present at the Munich event of the 2nd July 2016 was greatly appreciated by all, generating an atmosphere of joy, peace, and communion which grew and touched all those who were present.
The Lutheran Bishop gave an enthusiastic account from his own experience of the ecumenical meeting which took place on 31st October 2016 in Lund (Sweden). On 6th November, a similar meeting took place in Murska Sobota (city in the northeast of Slovenia), home town of the evangelical community. Most catholic bishops of Slovenia were present to the great joy of the Lutheran Bishop and community.
Bishop Filo expressed repeatedly his gratitude and Archbishop Zore said that events such as those in Munich and Lund are exceptional moments that need to translate into every-day experience.
In this context, an updating was given on the recent meeting in Castel Gandolfo and our proposals for the future were presented:
- a prayer vigil to be held on 24th March 2017 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the ‘Treaty of Rome’, which marked the beginning of European integration;
- work together to further the reconciliation of the peoples of Slovenia who still feel the heavy burden of their past (after WW2 in Slovenia 200,000 people were killed without trial, more than in the rest of Europe altogether);
- furthermore all Movements agreed to work for the family, which brought great joy to the two bishops.
In conclusion, after having read together greetings sent to us by the International Secretariat, each participant received a copy of the document entitled the »7 YESES« and we solemnly renewed the Pact of Mutual Love.
Pavel and Marjana Snoj