(From Poznań) “We are aware that, should Europe lose its sense of solidarity among individuals, countries and peoples, it would be like betraying the Christian message and its culture would be impoverished, the European civis would decrease”. This is the warning made by cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Council of EU Bishops Conferences (Ccee), from Poznań, Poland, where the plenary meeting of the presidents of all of Europe’s Bishops Conferences started earlier today. Tomorrow, the first work session will be focussed on “Europe: solidarity in education and society”, and for the occasion the Statistics Institute of the Polish Catholic Church will present a summary of the survey on volunteering, promoted by Ccee and conducted in the last few months at the Bishops Conferences. “That Europe is going through a bad time in its common journey is under everyone’s eyes”, cardinal Bagnasco said, “and this does not only apply to the European Union, it broadly applies to the entire Continent. Political and cultural circumstances, new phenomena, contradictory currents seem to be causing different feelings, sensitivities that have trouble talking with and understanding each other in an unbiased manner; sometimes, the souls and minds seem to shut down, maybe past memories come back that have not been completely reconciled; some practices seem too heavy or too ungrounded, it seems the burdens are not perfectly shared, that different identities are seen as obstacles instead of riches to be acknowledged and balanced, for a more determined, supportive, essential journey”.
Speaking to the European bishops, the cardinal also mentioned the “rising intolerance” that can be felt in Europe “for that anthropological view that Christianity has inspired in the European womb”. However, this caused “loneliness”, “an unbearable culture of mistrust for people and institutions”, as well as “an attitude of presumptuousness, of assumed superiority, of arrogance”. “We must be watchful, even in our communities”, Bagnasco pushed on. And he added: “The Church believes in Europe, in its Christian culture, in its humanistic drive, despite the shadows and the delays; it believes in its future and in its mission, which is not an economic one, but a spiritual and ethical one”. “We think that re-announcing Christ is the greatest gesture of love for our peoples and for the Continent, the right way to be in the world without being of the world. We are not scared by our weakness, by the restrictions, not even by the sins that are inherent in the human condition and that are a source of pain”.