The Slovakian presidency of the EU Council, in-office until the end of December, is linked to a set of initiatives and steps aimed at spreading knowledge on the Country situated in the heart of Europe, its beauties and its cultural heritage, among citizens of other European Countries, doing its utmost to contribute to the future development of the European community of nations. The various activities and projects – available also on the presidency’s website http://www.eu2016.sk/ – range from the political to the economic sector, including the promotion of tourism, to curiosities as the issueing of pine-scented stamps, meant to “spread the typical air of Slovak mountains behind the borders of the country“. Christian Churches in Slovakia will have the possibility to promote their Cyrilo-Methodian heritage and values. In the meantime, on July 12 the government of Bratislava, that holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, met with representatives of Christian communities in Europe; COMECE (Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community), and CEC (Conference of European Churches).
Christian churches: possible unity. Representatives of eight Christian Churches joined in prayer several days after the beginning of Slovak presidency with a strong message – the unity of the EU is not only a matter of politics, economy and various kinds of strategies, but first of all it should be a theme that touches the heart of each European citizen. “Over the past days we have witnessed the fragility of European unity, and that its presevation is difficult. We have therefore decided to gather in prayer asking for God´s help and blessing on this journey,“ said Msgr. Stanislav Zvolensky, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia. As he adds, keeping people together is much harder than dividing them. This is especially true when we talk about contemporary civilization “permeated by individualism.” When every person has a different opinion, a different point of view and a different truth, it’s extremely difficult to move forward together.
“Unity needs constant renewal and its maintenance is a noble task, notwithstanding the difficulties”
observed the archbishop of Bratislava, warning against easy compromise solutions – notably those involving values. “People are often under the impression that unity should be the result of some sort of balance between a number of individual requests on the one side, and a heap of unifying rules on the other. The more people we need to satisfy, the more norms need to be set. But that’s not how it works. Growing distance from the core complicates the balance. And the real problem arises when someone wants to touch and change this core, this axes of interpersonal and international relations consisting of our human nature.“ According to representatives of Christian Churches, reaching compromise solutions in the area of fundamental human values, considered by many to be the “lesser evil“, fails to bring about a balance. On the contrary, it only results in the denial of generally valid principles, growing relativism and exclusion of Christians from public space. “European civilization grown on the pillars of the fundamental values of the Gospel, brings hope for a better future. That´s what we need to do – help the EU maintain the balance of unity by getting as close as possible to human nature,“ said Msgr. Zvolensky emphasizing that “the unity of nations, each of them with its own originality, is possible. We hope that the Slovak presidency will be beficial for Europe in this regard, that it will contribute to the strengthening of unity and point to the values transcending the material reality.“
Mercy and prayer. Along with the words of the official representatives of Christian Churches, a lay prayer initiative was promoted on the occasion of the Slovak presidency. “As Christians we believe in the power of prayers and fasting. The establishment of the European Union is rooted in Christian values, whose main principles – solidarity and subsidiarity – can be strongly demonstrated and supported through our prayers“, said the initiators of the project, pointing to the coincidence that the Slovak presidency takes place during the Year of Mercy. “Slovakia has the formal presidency of European institutions. We want to launch a new term: “spiritual presidency“, thereby evoking a blessing for all European nations, said Eduard Filo, one of the organizers of the project launched as the joint initiative of the Association of Christian Youth Communities, Forum of Christian Institutions and Youths for Christ. Thousands of participants in the initiative will pray each week for a different country, sending the information in advance to their Bishops´ Conference so that their nation may join in the prayers. For further information: www.zosrdcaeuropy.sk.