Print Version    Email to Friend
Rethinking Europe

HONG KONG (SE): To mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Commission of Episcopal Conferences in the European Union held a gathering in the Eternal City from October 27 to 29, the final day of which included an audience with Pope Francis.
Meeting under the theme of Rethinking Europe, the bishops chose the anniversary for their gathering because they believe that the treaty that was signed in 1957 marked the beginning of the integration process which finally lead to the formation of the European Union.
At a press conference prior to their meeting, the secretary of the commission, Brother Oliver Poquillon, pointed out that the Union, and indeed the whole of Europe, is currently facing a variety of major challenges, mostly in regard to what citizens expect from their politicians, which they believe is not being delivered.
The Dominican brother pointed out that in the face of disappointment there is a tendency to look to the past for responses to the dilemmas that present themselves, which mostly adds up to little more than a nostalgia bred from over romanticised memory.
However, he also sees the tendency as dangerous, as it leads to populist politics in the search for solutions rather than making a lucid and thorough examination of the present and, for this reason, the bishops have chosen to dub their dialogue, Rethinking Europe.
The commission believes that the European Union has reaped many benefits, one of the most important being an elongated period of peace, which has not been experienced previously.
There has also been a growth in solidarity among the nations, economic growth and radical developments in the social structure of various nations within the union.
However, on the down side, the bishops say that they notice a growing attitude of detachment among many people, as they believe with a growing technocratic nature, people are looking towards Brussels to provide more and more solutions to problems, which it is simply not capable of delivering.
“But we believe that the European Union citizens, with their different experiences, their different expectations and with their rich and diversified capacities, should be brought back to the centre of Project Europe and become the agents of a resurgence,” the commission says in a statement.
Brother Poquillon explained that much of the agenda for the dialogue has been made up around the questions that the bishops believe Pope Francis would push them on when they come face to face on the last day of the gathering.
The pope is expected to push them for insights on integration in Europe, or more specifically the roots and causes of the fracture and lacerations that are visible in the relations among the member states.
Second on the list is dialogue, which is the traditional course of pursuing progress in the social construct of a society in most of Europe, which they note is a typical approach of western democracies.
The third one the bishops mention is the capacity to generate, as the pope will be looking for insights into the economic models that the bishops from across the Union see as being the need in the future.
However, the crunch question is how can the Church participate in this regeneration process? They recognise the Church is not a political governing body and it is not strictly its business to tell politicians what to do, but it does have a responsibility to speak up and act in favour of humanity in the political to and fro of public life.
Brother Poquillon pointed out to Vatican Radio that the Church in Europe does not want to be simply a sacristy Church, but rather to enter in to the heart of the public political discussion and put the human being into the heart of all public policies.

More from this section