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The decision taken by a majority of British voters just two days ago once more shows us the complex and difficult situation of Europe’s state at the moment and the importance of developing a path into the future. The successive crises in the last years, beginning with the breakdown of the financial markets, the near-down crash of finances in EU-memberstates, the illegal occupation of Crimea and the astoundingly increased number of refugees during the last months have not only put to test the European Integration Process, but also led to rising resentments between EU-memberstates as well as between groups within these member-states as well. A first rough analysis of the outcome of the British referendum shows us a division between generations, between the inhabitants of cities and of the countryside, between a « well-to-do » elite, able to find their way in a globalized and interconnected world and all those, who feel abandoned, left behind and who fear a loss of what they have gained or built up the past decennia.
The historic vote this week by a slim majority of the British people to leave the European Union –the so-called “Brexit” – signals a major political and economic challenge. But the Brexit also has a significant moral significance that goes beyond the UK. How we as nations understand borders, sovereignty, and other peoples speaks volumes to our deeper commitments to peace, solidarity, human rights, and the common good. Indeed, the decision to leave the European Union and the accompanying campaign vitriol against “others” signals a threat to one of the most important legacies of 20th Century Social Catholicism.
The grief over the death of two of our fellow (italian) citizens in the confusing battlefield of Libya stoked again the fire of an internal political conflict that expands now without any verbal limits, and fueled a feeling of fear and closure inside our borders. Europe is falling apart, like a giant with clay feet, under the pressure of thousands of men, women, children coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a lot of African countries. By now even the subtle (and often brutal) distinction between refugees and "economic migrants" is no more evoked, in front of the multitudes who camped inside controlled fences.
The European Union was created as value-based. It was not in the first place an economic project. It was our answer to the cruelty and barbarism of World War II and all the preceding wars. The Union was based on reconciliation between nations and thus, on the restoration of human dignity, and the irreplaceable value of each human person. We renounced revenge. By dehumanizing others inexorably we are dehumanizing ourselves in a never-ending spiral of violence and hate. The EU stopped this fatal evolution.
A Pax Romana – Newman conference marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
High Leigh Conference center Hoddesdon. 13th to 15th November 2009
The conference theme arose from the world vide economic crisis of 2009 providing an opportunity to review what had happened since the fall of the Berlin Wall exactly 20 years earlier. The conference title was "1989 -2009 Moving into a new Europe" but the sub title "misconceptions, hopes, disappointments, lessons learned, perspectives" formed the basis of many of the talks. The focus of the conference was on social, economic and spiritual issues but there more important contributions from eye witnesses who had observed events in Eastern Europe in 1988 /89. In the short time available no attempt was made to cover events across the whole of Europe and a late change of programme meant that there was very limited mention of Poland which provided so much of the stimulus for the overthrow of other Communist regimes. The contributions below are in a variety of formats and do not always reflect the length of the original input.