From March 6 to 8, Christian Movements of “Together for Europe” held a congress In Loppiano – Incisa Val d’Arno (near Florence), aimed at giving a soul to the Europe of markets and economy. For the approximately 100 participants from various countries of Europe, it was an opportunity to share experiences and ideas, and to offer a prophetic voice of hope.

Among entrepreneurs, students and scholars, from 12 different communities, the main supporters of the initiative were members of the Focolare Movement, the YMCA in Munich, the Vineyard Community in Brussels, the Schoenstatt Movement in Switzerland, the Pope John XXIII Community, and the Nomadelfia Community in Tuscany

Europe continues to struggle with economic uncertainty that poses severe challenges for businesses, policy- makers and citizens. “In Europe, only the voice of the institutions has been heard so far “- said Prof. Luigino Bruni -. “our dream is that Franciscans, members of the Focolare, people who have chosen “the least” in society, take their place in the Economic ministries … We need the voice of gratuity. In recent decades, these voices were completely silenced. An economy with neither a soul nor charisms capable of including the poor has no future. What do Christian Movements have to say, today, about Economic policy? »

During the congress an effort was made to offer a contribution from the bottom, on the basis of solidarity, to give a voice to everyone, to the poor and the excluded. The objective was to present a perspective of Europe based on an economy of reciprocity and generosity, rather than interest and profit only. An economy derived from cooperatives, from social and civic commitment.

The program had theoretical parts, (such as the causes of the economic crisis in Europe, various experiences and talks on “charismatic economics”, including Father Kentenich’s “pedagogy of ideality” for entrepreneurs of the Schönstatt Movement), and also testimonies derived from practice (concrete experiences of the “Economy of Communion” and the economics of sharing, offered by various Movements). The evenings were devoted to prayer and praise to God, with a concert on the second evening by the international group Gen Verde.

One afternoon, about 100 young people (attending a much larger youth congress in Loppiano) joined in, offering their experiences. Despite their disappointment with the current employment situation for young people, they are striving to uphold their ideals with personal commitment, going ”against the current” of consumerism and by giving life to small scale sustainable models.

It became clear to everyone that in order to renew contemporary economy and avoid its “perverse effects” on people’s lives and the environment, it is necessary to transform Christian values into economic activities and structures.

Everybody, especially the entrepreneurs, felt a great desire to create networks and ways of sharing, and to join forces to give a stronger and more incisive witness to the world.
On leaving, all felt a renewed commitment to deepen what they had received in those days within their own Communities, and to share initiatives with other Movements. A participant concluded: “If we succeed in opening our minds and hearts, tearing down some walls, welcoming each other and creating spaces of encounter and exchange, then it will be possible to give a more effective witness of our Christian roots in the world.”

All videos of the interventions of the conference can be viewed on: //

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