“The time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values.” (Pope Francis, 1)
Building on seventy years of peace, and on the progressive construction of a common economic and legal framework, Europe remains a space for hope. Nevertheless the current very serious political turmoil in several countries shows how Europeans feel affected by growing inequalities, social exclusion, some aspects of economic migration, and by the impact of economic and cultural globalization. They also feel threatened by terrorism at home, aggressive strategies of world powers and the rising risk of armed conflicts.
Nationalist and populist tendencies are endangering democracy and weakening the necessary respect for the Rule of Law. In debates where our common European identity is challenged, or where Christian faith is instrumentalised for partisan purposes, we must defend the European Project as our common hope.
In this current global geopolitical context, Europe can and must assume its responsibilities and dare to carry out its priorities:
- Rebuild the link between people through solidarity
“I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all “(Pope Francis, 2)
Our common European house is built on the principle of solidarity enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Solidarity is an effective response to inequalities and to anxieties related to globalization. The policies of the European Union must be reorientated to take into account the challenges that our fellow citizens are facing. In that respect social policies should be strengthened in order to fight inequalities, poverty, and unemployment. This also requires a responsible fiscal and budgetary policy that leaves the European Parliament and the national parliaments room for manoeuvre for a sustainable social policy. This priority should rebuild the broken link with Euro sceptics and fight anti-European discourse.
- Care for our common home
“I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and to those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter “(2)
We call for a protective Europe ready to assume all its responsibilities for world peace. Europe must fight to achieve the UN’S Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. Moreover, the implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change at national and European levels is a moral and legal obligation.
This implies an active role in fair partnerships with neighbouring and developing countries, particularly in Africa.
We know that the debates about asylum and migration have been difficult and divisive throughout Europe. But only by working together as Europeans, will we be able to find durable solutions, since we have abolished internal borders controls. We need a reformed European asylum system, based on human rights and solidarity between member states. We should also develop fair, humane migration policies that take into account also the needs and constraints of our societies. The European Parliament must be a key actor in reforming our legal framework. As Christians, we will contribute to a confident and fraternal dialogue amongst Europeans on these topics.
A Europe that protects also means a closer integration of security and defence policies, while taking seriously ethical challenges raised by modern military and cyber technologies. This will improve citizens confidence, and enhance Europe‘s reliability towards its partners.
- Subsidiarity, to respect our diversity.
“The identity of Europe is, and always has been, a dynamic and multicultural identity.” (2)
Diversity is our wealth, and must be respected. On many social issues, such as bioethical rules or family law, our countries can make different choices. Recognition and respect of our cultural differences help to dispel fears both of an anti-religious, secularised Europe, and of the return of religion as an authoritarian oppressive force. We are taking a demanding view of subsidiarity, a prerequisite for proper democracy.
The European Union must be transparent and communicate better in order to address the perceived distance from citizens to EU institutions.
As Christians in Europe:
- We are aware of the serious threats of low electoral turnout or refusal to participate in the common political debate. We call on EU citizens to vote.
- We want to overcome current misunderstandings and tensions within the European Union, especially between North and South, East and West.
- We believe in a human-centered union that protects its citizens, respects the principle of subsidiarity, and is a fair partner throughout the world.
- We trust in the future of a united Europe based on solidarity.
We are committed to reinvigorate the hope carried by the common European project.
United we encourage Christians in all European Countries to vote in the European elections and to shape our common European house.
We invite local churches and other Christian organisations, and their representatives at European level to join in this commitment for Europe.
Signed at Milano, on 16.02.2019 by following European Christian Association members of IXE:
Andante – European Alliance of Cathlic Womens organisations
Czech Christian Academy (Czech Republic)
European Forum of national laity committees (ELF)
Journées sociales de Luxembourg (Luxemburg)
Justitia et Pax Croatia (Croatia)
Latvian Christian Acadamy (Latvia)
Semaines Socialesde France (SSF, France)
Teresian Association (Spain)
Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ZdK, Germany)
(1) Address of Pope Francis to European Parliament, 25/11/2014.
(2) Address of Pope Francis, Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, 06/05/2016.