“It is good to bear in mind the underlying principles acting as the cornerstone of all civilizations, which influence and determine their development, survival, or destruction. Notably three are most widely accepted. These are culture, religion and the law”. The phrase is a quotation from the address delivered by Msgr. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, at the conference “A Christian Europe?” organized by Elea company (Rome, October 28). According to Msgr. Fisichella what is currently happening in Europe is a “short-circuit which prevents communicative circularity between the three above-described principles, with the consequent situation of a permanent crisis that involves us all”. “What is most evident is a strongly paradoxical situation”, since “when Europe used to thrive on shared values, it also embodied a strong identity which characterized it beyond its land borders”. Conversely, in recent years “while borders were torn down with the purpose of creating unity, we are witnessing ever-surging differences, extremisms and fragmentariness, to the extent that all possibility of unity crumbles in thin air”. The primacy of reason. It’s impossible to annihilate “the identity which peoples created across the centuries” in order to trigger “a sense of belonging to a new reality such as Europe”, underlines Msgr. Fisichella, while “imagining that a single currency could grant an identity or that student exchange with the Erasmus project would promote a sense of belonging is superficial thinking”. Indeed, these are “valid and useful tools. But they must be grounded, accompanied and supported by a cultural project that is mindful of differences and capable of introducing an original proposal. If not, language, art, architecture, literature, politics, economics will be made uniform”. The archbishop’s concern is the concept of “Europe as being independent of Christianity, and in some cases even against it”, while “Christianity is the precondition for the coherent understanding of Europe”. In fact, “for Europe, religions cannot be all the same” since “we are not in a dark night where everything is colorless”, and “the primacy of religion, which has been conquered across the centuries, cannot be flattened out at this time with quicksand-equalitarianism that crushes critical stances”. Thus, the task that lies ahead of us is “to generate thinking that will lay the foundations of an era capable of triggering cultural development for the next generations, so that their lives may tend towards the truth and thus be marked by authentic freedom”. From this perspective, “the erroneous understanding of innovative thought as the result of a rupture with the past cannot be repeated”. Indeed, “this is not how historical development takes place”. A positive relationship with reason, continues Msgr. Fisichella, “enables conflict prevention while severing all forms of fundamentalism”, which constitute “the expression of a radicalized fragment of the truth that disregards other contributions”. Moreover, “the concept of marriage, which in Christian understanding became a unique relationship in the mutuality of love, is a guarantee of justice, in order to counter the arbitrariness that humiliated defenseless women, which also introduced interpersonal relations as the bond of social fabric”.Laicity. From the words of the prelate it emerges that “the respect for life, especially for the innocent, weak and defenseless, is yet another sign of the presence of Christianity in the social fabric which nurtured extraordinary initiatives embodied by unaltered charity works, which remain standing societal pillars.” As Christians, Msgr. Fisichella pointed out, “we don’t advance primogeniture rights on milestone achievements marking the historical development of the past twenty centuries. However, we equally reject the possibility that others might claim this right to the point of denying our original contribution”. For the archbishop, “laicity, as it has been ascertained with increasing evidence in the past years, shouldn’t be understood as excluding Christianity. Rather, it signifies identifying Christianity’s peculiar contribution”. Thus “accepting or rejecting it will be a choice that the legislator is called to make and appraise, and not for a handful of votes at the end of the legislature, but for the governance of public interests and to the benefit of the global cultural formation of the next generations”, since law “creates a culture accordingly”. This is “what needs to be most considered in this historical moment when the consequences of certain legislations can already been seen”. Concludes Msgr. Fisichella: “Has society improved? Did the youth boost their commitment and their responsibility across society? Has work become a form of self-accomplishment? Did the family grow stronger within societal environments? Has the school become a training-ground for life? Is the sick person viewed as someone who deserves respect and not as a burden on public spending? Is life as a whole being respected? These are not rhetorical questions. And providing the answer is not an option”.
Msgr. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization