‘We need to recover a sense of hope’
During the Dialogue on the theme of (Re)thinking Europe , the Pope developed the key points of his speech using various headings: person and community, Europe as a place of dialogue, as an inclusive milieu, a space for solidarity, a source of development and a promise of peace. These central principles in fact summarise and reopen a rich debate covering the crucial points discussed in the issue of Europe - integration among the States, the situation of democracy and the economy in a rapidly changing world. In his conclusion, the Pope entrusts Christians with the task of being the soul of Europe.
A major concern that dominated and cut across the entire Dialogue meeting discussions was the disconnect between citizens and institutions and the accompanying disorientation that certain political-cultural issues cause among certain social groups. If we add to this the number of people allowing themselves to be infected by the disease of disaffection and consequent absenteeism, we are faced, rather alarmingly, with an image of a European society that is – to a large extent - set adrift. The perception that Europe’s institutions are in trouble is an associated factor and raises fears for the very stability of the Union.
We need to remind ourselves of the ideal that inspired the European Union to be set in motion but, not only this, we need to recover a sense of hope and adopt a forward-looking vision. As an expression of the Church and ecclesial communities of different nations, COMECE is generally recognised as the preferred representative for managing relationships with the European institutions. In pursuing its statutory aims, COMECE guides the Church’s conscience in her responsibility towards Europe.
To achieve this end, we must continue to adopt two courses of action, each closely connected with the other.
The first relates to the creation of a common vision by the national Bishops Conferences. This vision should not merely consist of certain key issues raised by the political-institutional contexts of individual conferences. The common vision should also provide basic guidelines on the future of Europe, such as those brought to light by the Church’s social teaching.
The second course of action should, by extension, involve the entire religious community and test its ability to fully develop an historic consolidation and a shared attitude along the path of bringing Europe together. This will form the basis for corresponding educational work. Unity of faith does not entail “uniformity”, yet certainly has the power to press for a converging movement towards a common European good glimpsed in all dimensions of life and society and shared beyond all boundaries and in the interweaving of legitimate differences. To some extent, awareness and the assumption of this task will not only be important for the future path of our continent, it will also be decisive for the significance and future of Christians in Europe.
Mgr Mariano Crociata
Bishop of Latina
Translated from the original text in Italian