STUTTGART, Germany, MAY 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Europe was urged not to limit itself to being a market, since the experience of the Holocaust showed that, without transcendent values, the continent can breed the worst evils.
That was the sober message issued at the close of the first meeting ever of Christian movements in Europe.
The meeting, held here last week under the theme “Together Pro-Europe,” attracted 10,000 people representing some 150 movements and communities of Catholics, evangelicals, Anglicans and Orthodox. People in 150 cities followed the event via a satellite broadcast.
“Europe has come to a decisive moment for her life and future plan,” the message begins, to celebrate the entry of 10 new countries into the European Union.
The continent “cannot limit herself to being a market or a union for the security of her citizens,” it says. “One notes a new breath of the love of God on all of her people which pushes Europe to be much more than that.”
Europe “is the continent of variety and beauty, and she has lived through moments of splendor and growth, but she has also tasted the bitter truth that man, if he makes no reference to profound values, is uprooted from his humanity and shows himself capable of the worst evils,” the message continues.
“In the last century two World Wars, concentration camps, gulags, and especially the Shoah [Holocaust] were witnesses of the darkness that has covered our continent and influenced painfully the rest of the world,” the messages adds. “And now exclusions, injustices, exploitations, and the wound of terrorism call for solutions.”
“But despite all these evils, today we see with gratitude that a reconciled Europe is being reaffirmed; a free and democratic Europe,” the movements and communities state.
“Inspired by the transforming force of the Gospel, we are called to work for a united and many-colored continent,” their message states. “We have come to Stuttgart from all the corners of the continent, we wish to give witness to the novelty of the growing communion between us, impelled by the Holy Spirit.”
“This communion of life is a further fruit of the cultural traditions that, in the light of the Judeo-Christian revelation, have built our continent in the course of the centuries,” they say. “We offer this communion as a contribution to a Europe that is able to respond to the challenges of our time.”
The message adds: “Through this lived fraternity, Europe herself becomes a message of peace, an active peace, which is built daily, having as base the forgiveness that is granted and requested. A peace that wishes to build bridges between peoples, ‘globalizing’ solidarity and justice.”
Dozens of bishops and leaders from the various faiths attended the event, along with 30 parliamentarians from 10 European countries.
Among the speakers at the meeting were Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement; Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio; evangelical pastors Friedrich Aschoff and Ulrich Parzany; and Orthodox priest Heikki Huttunen.
There was also a public meeting on the contribution of movements to Europe with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Johannes Friedrich of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria.