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CCEE Assembly. Bagnasco: “A divided Europe would be a damage to the whole world”

Interview with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of European Bishops, on the sidelines of the CCEE plenary meeting held in Poznań, Poland. “The world needs a united Europe because Europe has something great and beautiful to say: the vision of man, of life, the sense of God’s presence, Christianity. It is a concern. We are not geopolitical experts, but we do our utmost as bishops to ensure that Europe will not experience divisions, that it may progress in communion and in stronger mutual relations.”

(from Poznań) – “A divided Europe, which would cause serious damage not only to the continent but to the whole world, is of great concern”, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of European Bishops thus replied at the end of the tight-scheduled three-day annual Plenary Assembly of the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) in Poznań, Poland. The bishops discussed a number of issues focussing on solidarity in Europe and volunteer work that in its manifold shapes and forms involves a silent yet hard-working population of 100 million people. “The world – Bagnasco said –needs a united Europe because it has something great and beautiful to say: the vision of man, of life, the sense of God’s presence, Christianity. This of great concern today. We are not geopolitical experts, but

we do our utmost as bishops to ensure that Europe will not experience divisions, that it may progress in communion and in stronger mutual relations.

There is a great diversity also among the Churches. Do these diversities risk dividing the Church in Europe?

Every Church has her own history, traditions and culture that permeate peoples and Nations. But this is viewed and experienced in the light of the faith. Jesus Christ – not traditions and cultures – is the central, unifying point of the Church. Thus following Christ and continuing to look up at Him unites us and makes the different stories and identities a source of mutual enrichment, not one of division.

What can the Churches do for Europe?

The primary role of the Church in Europe is her mission of proclaiming Christ, Saviour of the world, Man-God. The foundation of humanity is our hope: to form consciences in the light of the Gospel, growing in the relationship with Christ, that is a growth in humanity. Third: to be a cooperating presence, participating in the development of the human city and being present in the city of men just as the leaven in the bread, as Jesus teaches. Fourth: to act as a critical conscience, for the Church lives in history but she identifies with no specific culture. She is in every situation but is never absorbed by it nor does she conform. Sometimes there is an intention to adapt the Church and this is a danger. The Church must remain faithful to Jesus Christ, which is the only way to remain faithful to mankind.

What do you mean when you say that the Church intends to be “a critical conscience” in Europe?

Being a critical conscience means reminding individuals and the collective conscience of State and Nations in Europe of the Truth of God and the truth of man. It means performing an act of love by guarding European peoples from certain drives, especially those of anthropological nature that eventually expand into the social arena.

It means to continue saying that man is not an object of the economy. Man is not ruled by profit. He is not an object and will never become one. Man is not a product but a value beyond comparison.

During the days of your plenary meeting you wrote a message of solidarity to the Pope. What did you write to him and where does this yearning come from?

It is motivated by manifestly unfounded, unfair attacks which are

utterly unacceptable

for us as bishops, and for the Catholic community as a whole.

We cannot condone it and we convey our full support while renewing our esteem, faith and filial love to the man chosen by the Divine Providence as Saint Peter’s successor.

Solidarity is a major theme discussed during your meeting. What are your words to the people of Europe?

Words of hope, of encouragement, of truth, not a pious exhortation. The truth means to not drift apart and to not continue severing our roots, not to give in to the temptation of division motivated by partisan interests of States, corporations, power lobbies, but to prioritize the greater good of the continent, that encompasses the good of all peoples. We are constantly called to transform Europe into our common home. In order to achieve this goal Europe must learn to view national populations with respect, appreciation, without seeking to homologate identities, languages and traditions.

A less cumbersome Europe is not less valid. On the contrary, it is more effective because it is more loved by the people.

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