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The 5th Gniezno Convention “Europe of the Spirit”: Message to the Europeans

14 marca 2004 | 09:44 | Ⓒ Ⓟ


We, Christians of various denominations, from the East and from the West of Europe, gathered during the 5th Gniezno Convention on the eve of the next stage of the European integration, address all the people of good will, who are concerned about the future of our continent: Let’s restore the Spirit to Europe!

The widening of the European Union to include 10 new states is a turning point in history. It calls for reflection on the foundations of the unity of the Old Continent. If Europe wants to discover the sense of the process of integration, it must find anew its soul. Integration on the level of politics and economy is not sufficient to build the community of citizens and nations. We listened attentively to the message of John Paul II who pointed out that “in the widening European Union there exists a temptation to separate the presence from the history, culture from tradition, and – finally – politics and economy from the spiritual values that are the foundations of the European identity.” Today Europe needs new spiritual cathedrals – as foundations to build upon.

In Gniezno we met great contemporary witnesses of faith. We found that – in spite of the obvious crisis of religiousness – there still exists a vivid spiritual inspiration in Europe. The unprecedented wave of secularisation, which was characteristic of the 20th century, seems to have lost its force. Europe of the Spirit is not only the historical source of the identity of the continent but also an opportunity for the future. The proofs are the numerous blossoming new movements and apostolic communities, which are often created and led by lay people. Their dynamism is the sign of the new spring of the Church, prophetically foretold by John Paul II. If this new spring is to come, the whole contemporary Christianity needs a deep renewal, a new language – simple and fascinating due to its depth, and a new involvement in the service to our neighbours. And the followers of Christ should be His authentic witnesses.

We, members of various Christian denominations, met in Gniezno, at the tomb of St. Adalbert, the bishop of the undivided Church of the East and the West. We found here that there will be no united Europe if the Christians are so dramatically divided! Today our continent – like never before – needs an undivided testimony of the Christians. The division of Christianity is not only the main obstacle to the credibility of the Church, but also an obstacle to peace. If we want to be effective in bringing Christ to modern Europe, we must be the witnesses of our unity in diversity, we must overcome the existing divisions; we must give the world the testimony of forgiveness, reconciliation and fraternity, in the spirit of the civilisation of love.

Europe of the Spirit is a Europe which does not live for itself. Europe is and must remain a home that is open to everybody, a home in which the weakest – the handicapped, the refugees and the immigrants – are particularly protected. Europe is universality and openness for the others. It should be the model for freedom, solidarity, justice, peace and reconciliation; it should defend the life of every person from conception to natural death. We do not demand any privileges for those who believe in Christ. We want respect for the rights of all the believers – also for the followers of Judaism and Islam, religions that brought so much to our common European heritage.

We do expect that this heritage and the Christian roots of the European culture will be respected in the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union. Putting the Christian tradition aside would be a spiritual self-annihilation. We realise that it is sanctity that lies at the root of Europe – not only the Europe of old but also the one we are building today.

As representatives of the numerous organisations of laity we believe that the unity of Europe is too important to be left only to politicians. Europe of the Spirit must be born in the meetings of its citizens. We encourage all the people who find the vision of the European Community of the Spirit close to their hearts, to make personal effort to create it. We should bring into Europe a more profound vision of a human person, a realism of our ascetic spirituality and the authenticity of our community of life. We may do it through prayer, work and social commitments.

Europe will be just like we are – like our marriages, families, our towns, villages and parishes, our Churches and the civil society that we build. For the future of Europe depends mainly on the Europeans – it depends on us. Europe of the Spirit depends on us.
Gniezno, March 14th, 2004

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