Christian movements launch common manifesto for European unitySaturday, May 12th, 2012
300 Christian Movements and communities of different Churches meet today in Brussels and simultaneously in more than 130 cities of the continent, to launch a manifesto on the theme of European unity, starting from Christian values.
Peace, economy and finance, intercultural dialogue and welcome, social responsibility and participatory citizenship, environment, family problems and attention towards the new generations will be among the themes tackled at Together for Europe. The main gathering today will be at the Square Meeting Centre of Brussels, where social and political leaders will gather with representatives of movements and communities of the whole of Europe.
The programme includes a video-message of Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, an address from Romano Prodi, and among others, talks from President of Focolare, Maria Voce, St Egidio founder, Andrea Riccardi and Thomas Römer from the YMCA. Through Together for Europe, communities of different Christian confessions engage in an effort to contribute to the building of a “new spiritual Europe,” reviving and renewing the continent’s Christian roots.
Simultaneous events will be take place today in more than a hundred European cities - in the Parliament of Rome, the Campidoglio; on the island of Ischia at 1500h a human chain will circle the perimeter of the island, to the sound of the bells of all the churches; in Augsburg (Germany) a flash mob will gather at 1400h in the central square and continue in the City Hall with the Mayor; the event is entitled, For a Europe beyond the Euro.
Speaking in advance of today’s event, the President of the European Commission said Europe is living in times of, “great political, economic, and social challenges.”
“Europe needs people who stand up for social peace, reach out to the poor, create a sense of solidarity and take responsibility in society. The activities in which you are involved today here in Brussels and all year round across Europe put these values into practice. I sincerely welcome your commitment to the European project and to our European society,” said José Manuel Barroso.
President Barroso said that the, “intellectual exchange,” between the Church and the European Institutions is, “profoundly important to me.”
“Europe needs a soul. And our dialogue with churches and religious communities is essential in nourishing it,” he added.
The inspiration for Together for Europe came from the gathering of ecclesiastical Movements and New Communities that have grown within the Catholic Church, convened by John Paul II on Pentecost day in 1998.
The following year, on October 31 1999, organisers of Catholic and evangelical movements met in Ottmaring near Augsburg, in Germany, at the end of the ceremony for the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) signed between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.
After this, a new relationship flourished between them, leading to a public rally in Munich Cathedral on December 8 2001. During the rally, members of 45 Movements, Communities and Groups of the Catholic and evangelical Church and the free Churches made the, “pact of reciprocal love” (to love one another the way Christ loved his disciples) which forms the basis of their communion.
Two earlier large manifestations of Together for Europe took place in Stuttgart in 2004 and 2007.
Other national gatherings have been held right across Europe. In Northern Ireland, through the Together for Europe project, an ongoing dialogue has come to life involving members of l’Arche, Focolare, the Corrymeela Community and the Sword of the Spirit community for the last five years.
Together for Europe may be followed live on the internet today at: http://localevents.together4europe.org from 6:00pm to 7:15pm Irish time.
by Susan Gately
Picture shows Together for Europe 2007 in Stuttgart.