European Union Must Not Be Limited to Economic Factors Alone

Congress Emphasizes Value of Europe’s Cultural, Spiritual and Artistic Roots

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ROME, MAY 19, 2003 ( A recent congress, organized to study relations between Catholicism and European literature, warns that the construction of the European Union must not neglect its spiritual, cultural and artistic roots.

The congress entitled «Catholicism and 20th Century Literature. A Bridge Between East and West,» cautions against a construction of the European Union limited to economic criteria alone, since the literature of the Eastern countries has proven itself as a factor of unity toward the continent and the world.

«In 2004, seven European countries will become part of the European Union, countries that belong to what Olivier Clement called the ‘Third Europe,’ between Russia and the Western countries,» Andrea Monda, the organizer and moderator of the meeting, explained to ZENIT agency.

«It seemed opportune for us to pay attention to these countries because, as the Holy Father often stresses, the construction of the European Union cannot be done strictly on the economic factor,» Andrea said. «In fact, the spiritual, cultural, and artistic roots of Europe must be re-established.»

Andrea Monda emphasized that «art, religiosity, and culture are dimensions that go hand in hand. To forget that Europe was already united in the Middle Ages by the same Christian faith means to risk not creating a real union, but only to partially resolve market problems. These are partial resolutions that do not unify Europe.»

«For these reasons, we have opted to look at the literature of this third Europe, including great Russia. This part of Europe has given us very great authors, even in the 20th century, such a tragic century. The different speakers have tried to show how in these situations of division and opposition, the artists maintained contact with Europe and the world,» he added.

During the congress, held in the «Palazzo Mattei di Paganica,» headquarters of the Italian Encyclopedia, we learned, for example, the history of Tudor Arghezi, «a great Rumanian poet and writer who lived the religious dimension profoundly, at a time when his country was under the Communist dictatorship,» Monda added.

«The Marxist regimes attempted to suffocate not only spirituality but also the artistic spirit. Tudor Arghezi is an example that art has no limits or barriers; it is a privileged channel to give back a common identity to a Europe that seems deprived of it,» Monda explained.

John Paul II is very relevant to this debate because with him «the centrality of Poland emerges,» Monda stressed.

«The figure of the Holy Father assumes even more the Pontiff’s authority in the sense that he builds a bridge. Wojtyla is a Polish poet and philosopher, but his human and spiritual circumstance assumes a universal dimension, a unifying figure who tries to remind politicians about the importance of the Christian spiritual roots,» he said.

«The present tendency in Europe is to disregard God, without realizing that by so doing, man is also disregarded,» Andrea Monda warned.

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