The Church in Europe “has to find new ways of speaking about and bringing to the forefront in public discussion those spiritual energies about which the Pope spoke” in “Caritas in Veritate” and “also indicate where those spiritual energies are missing or have been betrayed”, said Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, during the meeting promoted by the “Caritas in Veritate” Commission of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences in Cyprus (CCEE, September 3-5).
The commitment of lay people. “What can be done to involve our young people to take up the challenge of working for social cohesion in a different future?” asked Msgr. Martin drawing inspiration from the situation in Ireland, marked after years and years of extraordinary economic growth by a tragic crisis and by in the more general situation “of such high levels of youth unemployment which exist around Europe”, extending the reflection on the European scenario. According to archbishop of Dublin, the complexities of a modern economy “make comments by the Church on economic matters certainly more problematic”. But “there are questions about poverty and equity, about privilege and under-privilege, about opportunity and exclusion, about simple honesty, about greed and corruption and about generous commitment in society which the Church should have been addressing more coherently in the context of the common good of Europe”. In our times, “difficult to live and to manage”, emerge “the importance of a correct understanding of Catholic Social Doctrine” not just in terms of of bishops and ecclesial organization but also of “the calling of lay men and women in their Christian responsibility in the family, in their professional and cultural and political responsibilities”.
Conscience and competence. The Church, continued Msgr. Martin, “has to do more through its ongoing educational opportunities to prepare a new generation of men and women who will dedicate themselves to public service as a dimension of their Christian calling. This applies to politics and economics, to the world of communications and to the area of international relations”. That service requires “confidence in the value of the unique contribution of wisdom which comes from our faith. Those working in public life need support to enable them to defend and illustrate that contribution through rational argument and scientific competence”. This capacity to integrate “conscience and competence” for the bishop, is “part of the genius of the Church’s Social Doctrine”, that “needs to be complemented” with charity. The credibility of the Church ‘comes in a special way through the witness of those of its members who bring to the world that concept of gratuitousness which is the opposite of market consumerism” which is inspired by the “life and teaching and mission of Jesus”. “It is learned in the first place within the family” through “caring and sharing”, and also through education that “must also be oriented to giving the young people enthusiasm for contributing to society”. Not only receiving, but also giving: “without that sense of giving then real social cohesion will be hard to achieve”, the prelate pointed out. It is therefore important “to educate young people in their faith” before the present “culture dominated by individualism” one of the major challenges, along with the challenge of education in general, highlighted by Benedict XVI.
Social cohesion and hope. This is what European citizens are in dire need of, said Msgr. Martin. This “will only be attained by that combination of which I have spoken of “conscience, competence and charity. Without that combination justice will not be achieved”. Underlining the importance of analysing “what solidarity for the common good involves on a European level”, the prelate underlined the “particularly difficult situation in Europe today which can only be resolved in terms of solidarity”, and guarded against the risk of “national interest and at times national stereotyping” that can lead “to a return of isolationism and protectionism”. According to the Irish archbishop, Christians have “a special responsibility for the future of Europe”. Their “legitimate demands of Christian to see the Christian roots of Europe affirmed and recognised, will be all the more credible in the measure that Christian commit themselves to ensure a future of cohesion and solidarity and equity” of Europe and the more “the stress the vocation of Europe to foster cohesion and solidarity and equity in the wider world”. To contribute to the achievement of this objective the Catholic Church “has to witness more convincingly to its own internal cohesion”. Finally, Msgr. Martin referred to the words of Cardinal Roger Etchegaray “whom”, the archbishop continued, “I have often remembered at difficult moments in the life of the Church in my diocese, in my country and in Europe: Faith requires courage”. “Men and women of faith have the ability to face crises and come out of crises with their faith strengthened”.