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Message of the participants of the Congress

26 marca 2003 | 16:52 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

Address of the participants of the 4th Congress of Gniezno to Poles, Europeans, authorities of the uniting Europe, Christians and people of good will.

*1. A Historic Moment*
Representatives of Catholic Movements and Associations with their chaplains, representatives of the world of science and public life gathered in Gniezno, the first Capital of Poland and the City of St. Adalbert (Wojciech), at the Congress devoted to providing an answer to the question “Quo vadis, Europe?” send to their Compatriots in Poland and Abroad as well as to the citizens of Europe their words of Christian greeting and spiritual unity: Grace and peace be always with you.

We are gathered at the cradle of the Church and our nation at a unique moment of our national history, at a millennium anniversary of the martyrdom of the first Polish Brothers Martyrs, on the eve of the referendum on the accession to the European Union which will determine the shape and position of Poland in the united Europe in the immediate and distant future.

After over a thousand years that have elapsed since the Congress of the Synod of Gniezno, we once again engage in a debate on the responsibilities, objectives and values that are to form the foundations of the European Union following its expansion with another ten countries. This expansion of the European Union must mean a new spiritual quality. Even though Europe was born as the convergence of various cultures, religions, nations, traditions, and languages, it has been marked most significantly by and has achieved a unity of civilization thanks to Christianity.

Following in the footsteps of the Holy Father, John Paul II, we support the vision of Europe as a continuation of the spiritual and cultural tradition of the West and of the East. The present project of integration should also be a source of hope for other states and nations in Europe. In this way the accession of new Member States will help to fulfill the hope that “Europe may breathe with two lungs”, a hope that is especially dear to Churches.

As Poles we are conscious of our moral responsibilities towards the neighboring Slav nations; like us, they are European nations, even if they cannot as yet belong to the European Union. Abolition of borders within the countries of the new European Union should not lead to the creation of a “European stronghold” on its external borders.

*2. Europe as a Community of Spirit*

At the threshold of the new Europe there has to be a place for the values and witness of Christian life. We wish to cooperate in the creation of the Europe of the third millennium. We want to participate in renewing the face of Europe on a daily basis, in shaping European development, in deciding upon the position and role of Poland and upon the common European future. Although we are fully aware that the road to construct genuine unity is a long one, in the spirit of responsibility for the present and future shape of Poland and Europe we want to pull down the walls of hostility, build mutual trust, shape people’s consciences in the spirit of the Gospel, and undertake acts of solidarity and social love, without which there will be no true unity of spirit.

At present, we are witnesses to hope linked with the opportunity of creating genuine European unity. “If we want the new unity of Europe to last”, says the Pope, “it has to be based on those spiritual values which once shaped it, with due consideration of the wealth and diversity of cultures and traditions of individual nations. It has to be a great European Community of Spirit” (John Paul II, Address to the Parliament of the Republic of Poland, Warsaw, 11 June 1999).

That is why we want to reiterate that the process of European integration cannot be limited solely to the political and economic sphere, but that its ethical and axiological dimensions must also be taken into account. It is important to create conditions necessary for the respect of each person’s dignity, for the guarantee of a genuine and comprehensive development of the human being, for the respect of truth, freedom, justice, and for the construction of genuine reconciliation, peace, and solidarity between nations.

As Christians we conceive of Poland’s accession to the European Union not only as a process of inclusion into the political and economic structures, but first and foremost as a participation in the community of culture and spirit born out of and resting on Christian foundations.

The present processes of European expansion and strengthening must be taken advantage of as a chance for the true renewal of the character of Europe, with reference to what has been the most valuable through the many centuries of its history.

*3. The Christian Witness*

Conscious of the great challenges that each Christian is faced with because of the integration of the European continent, we ought to be prepared for a situation when our presence in the Europe of new quality will place great demands on us. In a pluralistic Europe we will stand as true witnesses to Christ. The future fate of Europe will no doubt rest on the quality of our witness, to which Divine Providence summons us today.

We are confident that the process of European integration cannot take place without the witness of the Church from the country on the Vistula River. In accordance with the words of John Paul II, we wish to “offer to Europe our commitment to faith, our customs inspired by religion, the pastoral efforts of bishops and clergy and probably many other values thanks to which Europe might become an organism pulsating not only with a high level of economy, but also with the profundity of spiritual life” (John Paul II to the Conference of the Polish Episcopate, Cracow, 8 June 1997). We are aware that we have much to offer to Europe and we cannot shun this responsibility.

The debate in the European Convention, during which representatives of the present and future Member States can for the first time jointly shape the future of the European Union, is an opportunity for all of us to determine together the values and objectives to be inscribed in the common draft of the future constitution. We believe that the preamble to the European Constitution should mention the religious and cultural heritage of Europe. Europeans need to feel responsible in their conscience before God and history for the fate of the Old Continent. The Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland might be a good model to follow.

Humanism born out of and rooted in Christian personalism is without doubt a value of the European heritage. Therefore, we wish legal acts of the united Europe to guarantee and respect the inviolability of dignity of the human person, to protect human life from the moment of conception to natural death, to support marriage as a permanent union of man and woman and the family understood as the basic unit and the foundation of a healthy society. We appeal to the European Parliament to revoke the resolution calling upon the introduction in the EU of the right to abortion and to equality of status of common-law cohabitation, same-sex relationships included, with marriage. We also call upon a discontinuation of financing abortion in the developing countries out of EU funds.

In the name of a consistent respect of the principle of subsidiarity, we deem it necessary to guarantee the autonomy of domestic legislature of Member States with regard to moral and cultural issues. We unconditionally support action taken currently with a view to providing a guarantee of sovereignty of the Polish nation, preferably in the form of a bilateral protocol, stressing the fact that a unilateral declaration put forward by the Government of the Republic of Poland is insufficient in this respect.

Appreciating the significance of freedom, especially religious one, we expect that the European Union will guarantee its exercise in individual, social and structural areas. We deem it necessary to guarantee the autonomy of and respect for the legal status of Churches and religious communities as stipulated in the domestic legal systems of national states. We also hold it necessary to treat religious communities as partners in a structural dialogue.

These days we strongly support the efforts taken by the Holy Father with a view to achieving a peaceful solution to the tensions arising in Iraq and in the Middle East.

Gathered at the tomb of St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr, patron saint of an undivided Church of the East and the West, we are ready to accept his spiritual legacy. We want to respond to the appeals of Pope John Paul II, relentlessly calling upon us to accept responsibility for the future shape of Europe and we want to become actively involved in the construction of its spiritual dimension.

As Poles, Europeans and Christians, we are not afraid of this task.

Gniezno, 16 March 2003

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