Upcoming elections: One sure thing

Christians' responsibility for the future of Europe in the thoughts of Romano Guardini

“If Europe should still exist in the future, if the world should still need Europe, it will be because its historical essence determined by the figure of Christ will have been preserved. In fact, with rekindled seriousness, Europe should take the shape of its very essence. If it relinquishes its heart, there won’t be much left to communicate.” This reflection by Romano Guardini, Italian-German philosopher mentioned by Pope Francis in “Evangelii gaudium”, dates back to the 1950s-60s. A lot of time has gone by since then, and now the focus of institutions, political movements and public opinion is on other issues. There are other urgent concerns. The economic and financial crisis, coupled by populisms and indifference, are playing their respecting games, but more or less consciously they are reviving from different, contrasting angles the question recently raised by cardinal Roger Etchegaray: “Is the effort to build Europe still useful and just?” The founding Fathers answered that question with enthusiasm and determination. Above all, it is a quest that should be rekindled with an intellectually honest approach, reflecting on the major cultural, social and political transformations that have changed and continue to shape the face of Europe, whether for the good or for the bad. We’re at a crossroads between the end of an experience and its very metamorphosis. Which path will Christians choose? Will they join the sceptics, the pessimists, those who say that all is lost and that abandoning ship is the only option, or will they support the propositional stances of those who believe that another Europe is still possible? Guardini sustains a responsible response, a call to Europe not to relinquish its raison d’être: to be home and school of humanity, home and school of respect and promotion of human dignity, home and school for communication of the truth on life and the family; home and school that the rest of the world may view as an influential benchmark of democracy and solidarity, a model of peace and growth that may be replicated across European borders, in full respect of different identities.Christianity, which far from being a theory signifies the presence of individuals and peoples, is called to prove its foresight, underlined in the appeal by the COMECE bishops (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) for the upcoming European elections, highlighting the importance of conveying a strong sign of hope at the polls. But this is still not enough. It is necessary to undertake a serious reflection on the progress made by European Countries since the Schuman Declaration of May 9 1950, which implies a verification:  a conscience-examination.”The shaping of Europe implies that each one of its nations reassess their historical development and understand their past against the backdrop of the emergence of a major vital force”, Romano Guardini wrote. “It will take a great deal of self-overcoming and self-analysis!” Decades have gone by, but this yardstick has not been reached yet, given surging nationalisms, populisms and longstanding divisions on issues having a national and international bearing. For instance, is it still useful and just to strive to keep Europe united when it overlooks the pillar of solidarity, with a diffident North that looks down upon its Southern countries that are facing massive migration waves? To give a responsible answer to these questions Guardini proposed strengthened awareness alongside with a powerful vision of a different Europe, “because one thing is for sure: Europe will become Christian, or it will cease to exist.” 

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