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The international Tainach Summer Conference 2018 of the Catholic Academics Association and the Catholic Education Centre Sodalitas on the topic "Thinking about a Europe of the future" started on Saturday evening with a brainstorming session of around 30 participants from Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Austria.

From the beginning of his pontificate in 2013, Francis called on European Catholics to oppose the "globalisation of indifference" by mobilising themselves, in particular, to help migrants. Five years after Lampedusa, has Francis' message never been so hard to hear among European Catholics?  At the level of the baptized, parishes or Christian associations, a thousand acts of generosity are undoubtedly carried out. On the other hand, it has to be said that countries with a strong Catholic culture are falling one after the other into the camp of anti-immigration parties. Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Italy now, by different but converging paths, have all joined the club of countries determined to defeat the European Union's policy of reception quotas.  Spain, which hosted the drifting Aquarius, and Portugal may be saving Catholic honour even if they are not on the most important migration routes. Halfway through, France is finding it difficult to get away from the moral stance. The emphasis of public speeches does not hide the difficulties of taking action.

     Actually the title named “The present EU and a new vision of Europe with Christian Perspectives” clearly marks one of the most important topics of our times for us as European citizens, and in fact for the whole world, since it means a lot to the world, weather Europe is in good shape or not, whether Europe is inspired or not, whether Europe is in peace and prosperity or not. What I want to share with you today are some insights in European history, some very personal opinions on our present time in Europe and an outlook on future perspectives. When I mention “personal opinions” I really mean it, and I identify myself as the thing you can call a catholic in my personal spirituality and faith, and as a Christian Liberal in my approach as a citizen and as a public servant.

     As a president of the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia in Warsaw I am honoured and happy to welcome you at this conference dedicated to the challenges that Christianity has to face in the contemporary Europe. Rapid progress in the technical civilization makes life of the people easier but - on the other side - confronts us with completely new problems and urges us to look for the appropriated understanding of new challenges and for finding correct responses to them. In particular this includes to find the good and comprehensive way of speech about main Christian values, because in the time of new medial communication and globalization, quite a lot of what some decades earlier had a clear and understandable meaning for all people of Europe, in the modern time became less clear or has changed the meaning.

   To me, building and preserving peace is the most important value in public life. This task was formulated by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount and today his message is aimed at every Christian who is committed to the community.

   The European Union is an organization that has demonstrated how to implement this value in real circumstances.  This was possible to do because, at its very beginning, the Founding Fathers proposed how to combine great Christian ideals with very concrete pragmatic solutions. Peace on the Continent was to be guaranteed by the mechanism of common policy within steel and coal-mining industries. This project was fully successful. At its beginning, two big enemies – France and Germany reconciled and then the biggest and the most aggressive army of the contemporary world withdrew from the half of territory of Europe. Today, we have peace in Europe and we as Christians are obliged to maintain it.

I hear people saying and repeating phrases like “we must rethink Europe, we must reinvent Europe, new Europe…Do we really need that?

You asked me to talk about a new vision of Europe. Maybe I am a wrong address for such a request, since I belong to the ardent admirers of Robert Schuman and his vision of Europe. This vision is now almost 70

years old but it is neither too old nor dated. This does not at all mean that there are no challenges for us today.

The questions to us, next generations, is: do we fulfil this vision which was laid for us by the Founding Fathers with an ever better content? Do we adapt it to the quickly changing reality? Don’t we loose the essential? And may be most important: are we, each of us, really convinced Europeans and are we really involved in this magnificent project?

   The SIIAEC (*) Pax Romana Assembly held from 20th to 22nd April 2018 reflected on the question of Solidarity in Europe. The European Union was supposed to set good example of democracy, human rights and rules of law, but nationalists and populists have come to power in several EU countries, although in a democratic way. The situation in such countries, earlier belonging to the Soviet Bloc, requires special attention. Their ruling parties believe that political will is above law. We know of this attitude and its consequences from recent history. The aim of this statement is to invite our members to take part in the renewal of the EU project. 

Back to history

   Europe has been wounded by so many wars including huge religious conflicts. The EU is a political answer, a project of peace wanted by those who experienced the devastating effects of racist or nationalist policies. More than a set of treaties it is an association of people and nations. It is gradually built by “de facto” solidarities, economic activities being one means to achieve this.
   In fact we have to remember the political convictions of Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer and many other prophets of our time, who objected to the humanitarian disasters during the two great wars in the 20th century. They believed that if nationalisms and narrow-minded national interests are rejected in favour of cooperation, solidarity and mutual confidence among nations and peoples, we shall be able to live in peace.

Article written by Robert Schuman for the Pax Romana review in June 1953

One would make a mistake and be the victim of a dangerous illusion if one believed that, in order to make Europe, it would be sufficient to create European Institutions. It would be like a body without a soul. These institutions will have to be led by a European spirit, as His Holiness Pius XII defined it, in front of the members of the College of Europe in Bruges last March 15. The peoples belonging to a European Community will have to be aware of their solidarity, and place their trust in their mutual cooperation.

However, between nations that, a short while ago, were still fighting each other as enemies, the budding of such feelings will be slow and difficult; it will not only be antagonized by the memories of a recent past, but also by mistakes, blunders and sometimes deliberate provocations, finally by the apprehensions regarding the future. All these are reasons for us to succeed quickly.