Germany: An ecumenical meeting for a democratic Europe

Source: FSSPX News


“This is the first time that Christian movements of different Churches are meeting for a European event of this magnitude”, whose aim is “to contribute to giving a soul to the construction of a new Europe, united in its diversity and realizing its universal vocation of peace and unity among its peoples”. Actually, 10,000 people are expected at Stuttgart for this May 8, the date of the anniversary of the end of World War II, but the organizers hope the number will reach 100,000, thanks to other meetings, which are being held simultaneously on the same theme, in 150 towns in Europe. A satellite broadcast of the event is thus planned in Lisbon, Moscow, Belfast, Paris, as well as at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Geneva.

The title of the program, “Together for Europe”, has been chosen in order to “show that the Community exists in diversity”, or again, “in its multiplicity, Europe has an effective real unity”, it was explained to journalists during the presentation on April 22. Those responsible for this meeting, which will take place one week after the integration of ten new countries into the European Union, hope “that this summit will give a genuine impetus to the social, cultural and community life of our continent, opening up new horizons.”

This ecumenical meeting will see the participation of Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox and Protestants. Also expected is Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, the German president, Johannes Rau, the secretary general of the European Council, Walter Schwimmer, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, the patriarch Bartholomew I and the president of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, Cardinal Walter Kasper. In all, around thirty European parliamentarians, 25 Catholic prelates, 14 Evangelical bishops, 8 Orthodox and 2 Anglicans.

The day in Stuttgart is organized around the testimony of these participants, concerning their political, economic and social commitments. Among the major themes will be: “The Europe of yesterday and today”, “The Christian faith and the future of Europe”, “Fraternity”, “Unity in plurality”, and “United Europe for a united world”.

The concept of this meeting was born out of an “informal dialogue between different Catholic movements, at Pentecost 1998”, explained Andrea Riccardi. “Chiara Lubich, president of the Focolari movement, other leaders of movements, and myself, became aware that each one of our organizations had, in itself, a European dimension, but also links with other continents.”

“Together, we want to bring about a culture of openness and dialogue, not in an ideological way, but through a lived experience,” affirmed Thomas Römer, a German at the head of an evangelical movement. “We want to make a spiritual contribution to Europe, and this is why we are getting together”, added Gabriela Facallari, of Focolari. “These movements feel the Christian roots of Europe, because they themselves are the Christian roots of Europe,” explained Andrea Riccardi, for whom “the profound vocation of Europe is not to live together for oneself, but for others”. Europe is “a bridge builder, of which other continents, like Africa, have need”.