GDANSK, Poland, OCT. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The European bishops gathered representatives from 29 countries to create strategies for building solidarity on the continent in the first ever “Catholic Social Days for Europe.”
These days, sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, took place in Gdansk from Thursday to Sunday.
In the closing statement, titled “Solidarity Is the Future of Europe,” the bishops recalled the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, and the resulting quest for reconciliation that gave rise to the European Union.
They underlined the need to uphold the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity so as to promote the common good throughout Europe.
The bishops affirmed, “Selfish behavior, utilitarianism and materialism need to give way to sharing, as has been clearly demonstrated by the current economic crisis.”
They added that “the inalienable dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death must be respected.”
“We should not be afraid,” the prelates stated, as “solidarity is our common future.”
They continued: “The unity of Europe has been the dream of some. It has become a hope for many. Today it is our duty to ensure that it continues to serve the objective of global solidarity.”
The statement outlined three ways of building solidarity: between generations, within Europe, and between Europe and the rest of the world.
It called for the promotion and protection of the family, “based on the marriage of a man and a woman,” and the creation of conditions to “enable parents to raise children and to harmonize family life and professional life.”
The message also appealed for common immigration laws within Europe, which will recognize the human dignity of every person.
The bishops underlined the need to “place the economy at the service of all, recognizing the value of human work.”
As well, they requested aid toward developing countries, especially those of the African continent.
“Europe needs men and women,” the prelates affirmed, “formed in the faith, ready to receive others, in the name of Jesus Christ, with outstretched arms and committed to building together relationships and institutions of solidarity, in the service of the people of our time and mindful of the generations to come.”
During those days, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, addressed a message to the participants in which he stated that the crisis that we are experiencing is not so much economic or financial as ethical.
He affirmed that the absence of values provokes the fragility in societies and leads to the disappearance of the struggle for the common good.
Bishop Adrianus van Luyn, president of the bishops’ conferences commission, stated during the opening session that future generations depend on the exercise of solidarity.
In light of this, he indicated to the participants the necessity of “working together for the persons who will come after us.”
In her talk on Friday, Anna Záborská, a Slovak representative in the European Parliament, dealt with the theme of “The Family, Fundamental Cell of Society, Founded on European Solidarity.”
“The first way to test solidarity with the family regards every husband and every wife personally,” she said, alluding to her own personal experience with her husband Vladimir, to whom she has been married for 40 years.
“To dare to live the good of marriage with love, joy and trust, despite all the dangers of life, and to be happy but never unthinking parents or grandparents, can serve as an example to other persons to commit themselves in marriage and start a family,” Záborská affirmed.
The second way of supporting the family, she said, “concerns the legislative work of the national and international institutions in the sectors related to the family.”
The third way, she said, is in the political order: “What political orientations do the national and international institutions adopt to support the development of the family?”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin called on young Christian Europeans to help shape the future of this continent.
He warned against “apathy in relation to the European project” and expressed the hope that youth will “take up the challenge of overcoming problems such as the environment and the current economic crisis.”
The prelate noted that young people in the solidarity movement brought about a change in Central and Eastern Europe, and he called on them to take the lead now as well.
He said: “I challenge young people to look at Europe from their particular view with the Catholic social teaching in mind. We need to look within Europe and beyond.”
Archbishop Martin continued: “I have had a lot of talk with young people and you would be surprised to learn how passionate they are about the environment and climate change.”
He concluded that “creative minorities have always shaped the future and I am sure it will happen again.”