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Auschwitz is a name that from A to Z contains the alphabet of horror: right in the heart of Europe, it has become the place of the annihilation of the "different", to be identified not only with Jews but also with dissidents, opponents, the disabled, the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Roma, the Sinti, the Slavs. Today, 74 years after the liberation of that concentration camp, we are celebrating the 19th Day of the Memory of the Holocaust (the "catastrophe", in Hebrew) established by law 211 of 20 July 2000.

     The next general elections of the European Parliament will assume a crucial historical value for Europe. The actual political framework inside and outside the European Union strongly challenges the European institutions and their role as well as the very idea of Europe as a political community which is able to rule a continent according to common values and to reach common goals. The crisis of the traditional political parties in all the European countries, the rising of a new fascination for national identity and national sovereignty, they are the major features of a larger crisis of the political roots of Europe, including the concept of democracy.

  In May 2019 European people will elect the new European parliament and according to many analysts this election is going to be crucial for the future of the European Union. The rising of political parties and movements which consider the EU as the responsible for the economic crisis and for its consequences in terms of social security strongly challenge the very basis of the political project of a Europe unite in the diversity and ruled by democratic and effective institution. This scenario questions the existence of a European political perspective, since an increasing number of member states are ruled by governments which asks for a return to the central role of national state. Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy claim a return to the protection of the “national interest” and relevant political movements in Germany (particularly in Bavaria and East Germany), France and Belgium support this same position.

       The recent vote of the European Parliament against the Hungarian government asks for the application of the article 7 of the treaty of the European Union, which allows the European institutions to subject a member state to sanction if there is an evident violation of one of the basic principles of the Union: democracy. It is well known that such request will not produce effects, since the final decision has to be taken by the European Council, where several governments, such as those of Poland, Austria and Italy, side with Mr. Orban’s government.

       This entire story is the most recent manifestation of the historical crisis that modern representative democracy suffers in Europe and America. Such a crisis concerns the understanding of what democracy is. Modern democratic practices rest upon the basic idea of creating explicit and inviolable limits to every exercise of power and authority, so that even the power of the people does not lack a bound which is fixed in the list of rights and duties of the citizens and of the different communities. On the other hand, the idea of democracy which is proper of several political movements in Europe and of Trump’s administration in the United States is based on the idea that the democratic process consists in the simple popular mandate which enables the winner of a presidential election or a majority in a Parliament to consider themselves as the only legitimate representatives of the “general will” of the nation.

 The Hungarian Prime Minister, Mr Orban, has a growing reputation for certain choices made by his government, which give rise to very conflicting reactions, in that they include the restriction of freedom of expression, religious freedom, freedom of association, the rights of minorities and the rights of migrants, and a restriction on the independence of the judiciary. The European Parliament, in a recent resolution, expressed its opposition, because if in the body of Europe is developing a spirit that is so seriously damaging to the democratic principles that we have shared and experienced (despite all the shortcomings) in recent decades, the very idea of Europe risks being compromised.  The results of the elections in Sweden, in which xenophobic and sovereign impulses similar to those of other European countries are strongly emerging, have contributed to this conviction.

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.

   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. 

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.