Christian hope ” “for a new Europe

EU elections: believers are the protagonists, for a united and plural "common home"

European elections force us to assess the accomplishments inside our continent. The question is: what is Europe? Let’s start with what we see. When we travel across the continent we witness widespread diversity in the natural and human landscapes. We are constantly surprised by the variety of languages, habits, traditions (culinary, architectural…), as well as by the various ideas and lifestyles. All of this could be seen as a kaleidoscope whereby each segment of a whole is related to other segments that preserve their specific identity, for the creation of something new, unprecedented and more beautiful. But Europe isn’t just diversity. There is a common ground that isn’t only geographic in nature. Deep-rooted shared values and principles are a token of the fact that we are much more than mere “neighbouring peoples”. To be Christian means to belong to the same people, to the same family. We don’t have to think of others as enemies that threaten us. Those who deem it necessary to adopt an attitude of closure and attack others to defend personal interests are making a show of insecurity and egoism. But faith is not limited to teaching what we have in common. It sets us into motion and shows us the way of living together and step up unity while preserving plurality. Faith makes us aware that unity progresses in the form of communion, through dialogue and mutual sharing, with the cooperation of each one of us. This is true for the unity of the family, of a nation or a community of nations. The European adventure we all know as the European Union began because men and women of faith had seen a world that was growing distant from these truths, doomed to self-annihilation. Peace, which everyone yearned for after the Second World War, is not less important today. It requires constant vigilance. In order to create a truly united community we should leave space for solidarity, which makes us see other people’s needs as our own, thereby actively contributing to the common good. We must also implement subsidiarity, which is fully realized when each and every group and every community, freely and responsibly, live up to their responsibilities. A democratic Europe, where every person and nation feel at home, and cooperate in the common home, should stand as a model of international cooperation, that extends its caring glance to people, families, and most of all, to the most vulnerable. Neither peace, nor solidarity and not even subsidiarity can become daily, shared realities if we forget the value of the human person. As Pope Francis constantly reminds us, we cannot preserve a culture in which the other is viewed with contempt, as an object to be used and disposed of. It demands love, for human justice is not enough. Quoting from Pope Paul VI, in his speech for the 25th anniversary of FAO in 1970: “Social justice leads us to respect the common good and social charity makes us love it”. Perhaps, some may say that in politics there is no room for love. Instead, I believe that only a culture of love can ensure permanent justice, which does not deny the rules of justice. Rather, it enables us to go beyond the logic of calculations. It leads to the birth of a culture of free bestowal, the only culture capable of uniting people, precisely because it makes them willing to help others. European elections could be a good moment to commit to memory these essential aspects of social life. However, the mission of Christian faithful is not some sort of social engineering, even when it is guided by just values and principles. The Church is not an NGO! That which is part and parcel of our identity – which is what the world most needs – is Christ himself. Christ is the major need of Europeans. All this should make us grasp the importance of taking the evangelization of Europe seriously. Without a change of heart, which stems from the discovery of God and of His love, we will be unable to build a more human Europe. Conversely, when someone discovers Jesus, that person becomes capable of loving mankind without surrendering, even when the surrounding environment forces him/her to swim against the tide. Thanks to their faith in Jesus Christ, Christian believers are realistic: they know the human heart – its greatness, its demand of what is true and good, and its wounds – and they can rely on God’s support. Having been called to vote in the upcoming European elections Christian citizens must bear in mind all of these pillars for the progress of the Europe of today and of tomorrow, and also to assume once again, with renewed thrust, the task of Gospel proclamation, as the Holy Father relentlessly prompts us to do.

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