Austria: European meeting of Christian Culture

Source: FSSPX News


Between May 3 and 5, 2006, in Vienna, the Pontifical Council of Culture and the Department for Ecclesial External Relations of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow organized a European meeting of Christian culture. Entitled “Give a soul to Europe – the mission and responsibility of the Churches”, the meeting is the first joint venture between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

 Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, opened the session with the declaration that “the very mission of our Churches is at stakes and it is my conviction, in the interest of Europe as a whole, that we must unite our forces to give Europe a soul.” “We are here,” he continued, “because we feel deeply the call to face together the enormous challenges of the beginning of this new millennium, starting with that of a modernity, in some places tinged with post-modernity against a background of secularism”. “Together, we are becoming aware of obstacles in order to better understand them, and of the challenges in order to better overcome them,” and he stressed that they “are legion: moral relativism and general skepticism, Europe without God and without a soul, a cold Europe, imprisoned in the shackles of laws, and ruled by constant profit seeking.”

 “This dominant relativism” renders “ever more difficult the authentic exercise of personal freedom (…) with no other motive than the law of the strongest, orchestrated by the complicity of an indulgent media”. The cardinal recalled how important it was that the Churches “speak with one voice in public debate, particularly in order that civil law and moral law may find themselves in a just mutual relationship.” “‘The European demographic winter’ advances year by year,” said the cardinal, and the absence of descendants has today “become an ideal in some countries, a refusal of children, the result of a materialistic hedonistic culture which is greatly affecting our Churches.”

 Afflicted by an “increasing de-christianization, which carries an insidious secularism from the Atlantic to the Urals,” Europe still retains traces of its Christian identity, “even in the most secularized areas,” said the cardinal.

 On May 5, the participants in this Congress addressed a message to the Catholic Church, to the Orthodox Churches, to all Christians and faithful of other religious traditions, as well as political leaders and public heads of European countries. Their message was: “Without the inspiration of the moral principles characteristic of the two religious traditions of Europe (Catholic and Orthodox. - Ed.) and of many schools of thought, the Europeans will not be able to face properly the challenges of the modern world.” “We are united not only by a religious, historical and cultural experience, but equally by an identical view of the manner in which private life should be organized.” “We believe that European civilization demands the protection and the promotion of freedom and of human dignity.”

 They recalled that “the religious traditions of the world have always been and remain a source of education in moral responsibility,” pointing out that “fundamental moral norms are common to the great majority of religions.” The “absence” or the “delay” of education, they explained, could have disastrous consequences such as the proliferation of all forms of extremism, a decline in the birthrate, the pollution of the environment, violence and the loss of human dignity.