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A. Riccardi: Peace as the Basis of the European Order

13 marca 2004 | 18:26 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

Mister President,
Your Eminence Primate of Poland,
Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Congress Participants and Friends,

Why have I been invited to speak at this St. Adalbert’s Forum, devoted to Europe of the Spirit? I must ask myself this question and not just accept the honor of participating in this extremely important congress of the Polish Church. I am a man of the south, moreover, a citizen of Rome, living on the Mediterranean coast. It is that Roman and Mediterranean world that shapes my experience of being European.
When I was eighteen years old I had my first contact with the Gospel. It was 1968, Western Europe (but not only Western) was shaken by a strong movement of young people who wanted to transform the world. The year 1968 was an impetus that brought about changes. Being at the very center of those events I became convinced that one could not change the world without addressing people’s hearts. And what could reach human hearts if not the Good News brought by the Lord Jesus?
Thus started St. Egidio’s Community: it began in Rome, spread in Europe, and finally reached all corners of the world. The experience of reading the Gospel together in 1968 resulted in the formulation of our everyday prayer, the prayer shared by our communities in sixty countries of the world in which we are present: from Rome, from the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere (which, by the way, is cardinal Glemp’s titular church) to our seat in Havana in Cuba, to a small church in the center of Madrid, to our seat in Africa, in Abidjan, on the Ivory Coast. All over the world, wherever St. Egidio’s Community is found, the prayer is found. Our common prayer, which took its name from St. Egidio, reflects the essence of this fraternity of women and men, a fraternity of lay people that is also open to priests and bishops.
This prayer is a spring that fills us with love and the feeling of friendship for all people, especially for the poorest. Indeed, the history of St. Egidio’s Community, which has existed for over thirty five years, is replete with acts of compassion directed at those in need: we took care of the suburbs of Rome, of the old who live in penury in our European cities, of people inflicted with various kinds of handicaps, those suffering from AIDS, and so many poor of Africa… The poor as friends and family members: such is the spiritual dimension of our service. Did not Lord send us to preach the Gospel, to heal the sick and those possessed by the Devil? Are we then not obliged to take on the responsibility for those in need?
In the course of more than thirty years of work we have encountered many areas of poverty. Above all, in Africa. We are present in 22 African countries. The Africa of wars and AIDS. It was in fact Africa where we first encountered war, the mother, indeed, of all misery. Thus St. Egidio’s Community became involved in the struggle with the most pernicious demon of all, the demon of war, to whose lure even Jesus’ disciples are not always immune. Striving for peace and reconciliation, mediating between the warring parties absorbed us deeply: in Mozambique, after sixteen years of fighting which cost a million lives, after prolonged negotiations, we managed to bring about an agreement between the government and the guerrillas. It was reached in 1992, in Rome, in the seat of our community. We were also engaged in other conflicts (in Africa and elsewhere). The conclusion that we have derived from those experiences is that it is the responsibility of Christians to act for the sake of peace, they must be motivated by a disinterested desire for peace.
The one who is now speaking to you has traveled a lot in the world, especially in Europe and Africa, inspired by this very spirit. Sometimes I encountered Christian communities that filled me with hope, at other times I was faced with acute problems of poverty, at yet different occasions I found myself in the midst of armed conflicts. In the course of my journey I saw that Christians do not have enough strength. In the book of Esther we read that the nation of the just, confronted with a dark future, threatened by war and the enemy’s military advantage, was stirred by a rebellious feeling. ‘How are we to solve this situation?’ the people cried to the Lord. Good man Mordecai had a dream: „at that call a great river sprung as if from a small spring. The light ascended. and those humiliated were elevated.”(Esther 1, 1h-1k). From the prayers of the faithful a powerful river springs. From a small fountain the great power of mercy is born.
Contemporary world badly needs solidarity. But true solidarity requires spirituality. Too often, in European history, solidarity and spirituality have been divorced from each other. The former one has lost its roots, the latter has not revealed its revitalizing power from the human and the social perspective.
I have been asked to speak of Europe. Not as an economist or politician but on the basis of my experience as a Christian in the world, an European from the south, the friend of poor people and of underdeveloped countries. I would like to begin with a simple statement: wherever I go, I see great demand for Europe. European countries need to be part of Europe because, otherwise, deceiving themselves that they can manage, they are doomed to lose their significance. But it is primarily the world that needs Europe. Europe means something that other continents do not have. In so many corners of the world what is needed is precisely Europe.
Contemporary world badly needs Europe. But Europe is complex, it is difficult to understand it in its entirety. The history of Europe goes back hundreds of years in time. It has been characterized by a variety of nations and identities. This heterogeneity has caused wars, conflicts, hatred, sentiments of superiority… Europe is the homeland of ancient heterogeneities and of those which have survived up to the present moment. Take European languages as an example. Such varied heritage makes Europe a very special continent. Just look at our cities: most of them have preserved a human face, as opposed to huge cities of the world. They have got their significance and their calling, while so many metropolis of the world have lost their identity. Cities are a special feature of the European civilization, almost its symbol: they are its face, the space where one can meet various people.
Europe is the space of diversity: many cities with their different identities, various religious heritages, differing historical experiences. Sometimes it seems that there are many Europes: small and big continents in one huge container. Europe is one and varied. It includes the West – delineated by Catholicism and Protestantism, and the East, marked by Byzantine culture. But there is no geometry. In Europe there are no straight borders, like those in Africa, the borderlines here are winding, they breed suffering. No geometry. In the case of Poland, a Slavic country, the history of connections with catholic Rome is clear and decisive. In Romania, the land of Romanian language, the Orthodox tradition is found. Europe is one but at the same time it is heterogeneous, with marked differences which are not mere regionalisms but national cultures. One continent but so many worlds. In its long history Europe has never been reduced to one Empire precisely because of those profound differences. Napoleon’s attempt to transform Europe into a single empire failed, and even gave rise to many distinct histories and national sentiments.
But the history of Europe, a single though varied continent, has also been the history of the world in which differences have led to madness and conceit, and, in consequence, to war. One must say that European heterogeneity has not always been harmonious, moreover, it has been a source of conflicts. Military progress was possible for ages precisely because of the experiments conducted on the battlefields of Europe. Our wars cost many lives, our cities were frequently destroyed. Yes, because our continent was the continent of wars, of hatred inherited by one generation after another, of destruction and extermination.
Generation after generation preserved painful memories, vengeful sentiments, hatred and suffering. Individual nations were formed from suffering and military pride that filled European histories. Just look at the twentieth century and you shall see Europe immersed in many wars. 20th century Europe devastated itself in two unbelievable wars that were named world wars. Two conflicts that inflamed the entire world. In the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 a war among the Europeans was inevitably a world war: from the Far East to Africa and the United States. And, it is necessary to observe, after those two world wars Europe was no longer the same, it was devastated by the conflicts. It was no longer the center of empires that stretched to the most distant corners of the world, like the former British or French empires. The Europe of the last decades of the 20th century was wealthy in terms of economy, wealthier than it had ever been in its entire history, but it was on the decline. Its eastern parts were dominated by the Soviet empire and the western countries had to obey the leadership of the American empire.
We must not forget that wars were an expression of Europe’s curse: the fanatical nationalistic egoism. The nation was worshiped, it was a religion, an object of idolatrous adoration. The cult required that other nations be sacrificed and considered as inferior. National egoism and nationalistic passion have never led to the awareness of the common European good as a value which does not negate differences but embraces them and harmoniously reconciles them. Up until the end of World War Two it seemed that Europe did not in fact exist, that it was only a conglomeration of national egoisms, sometimes quite pathetic, confronting each other, fighting each other.
Nevertheless, Europe has a meaning. Ortega y Gasset, having returned from America, explained his decision to come back as follows: “Europa es el unico continente quo tiene un contenido” (“Europe is the only continent which has a content”). In Spanish the two senses of the word “continent” are lost. The essence of Europe – Rémi Brague wrote in Europe, la voie Romanie – is to preserve its substance while remaining open to that which is universal. The European civilization is one great synthesis of its own substance with experience gained outside of itself, or maturing within it. Europe is the only continent which has a content: its content is the openness to that which is universal.
This can be perceived in some great Europeans’ reflections on the ruins left after World War Two, on the cities that were completely destroyed, like Warsaw or Berlin, on millions of human lives lost in a nonsensical way, on extermination and concentration camps. A dream was born. Before 1939 Europe had never experienced such a downfall, but this immediately gave rise to a dream. It was a profound desire for union, not felt earlier because of the infatuation with particular interests. The diversity of Europe, its national subjects, had to co-exist with its oneness. One could not remain different if one was not part of that oneness. It was impossible to preserve national identity without uniting with the others. And – if I may make this marginal remark – this unity is needed today more than ever. In the world of globalization, our European nations want to exist and to survive as the subjects of history, not just the objects of globalization: we will not preserve national identities if we do not unite. European countries need Europe.
After World War Two a dream was born about a united Europe. And for half a century that was the objective of, initially, its Western countries, and eventually of the whole continent. A blessed dream after so many disasters of war. It was not a dream of the politicians of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. This dream, it is important to pinpoint, is as old as the roads and the bridges that join all the European countries. This has always been a dream of European Christians. It was the Church’s dream. The dream of the popes of Rome who saw Europe as a single dwelling shared by all nations. The dream of the missionaries, such as St. Adalbert, who felt equally at ease in the roman monastery on Aventine, in the diocese of Prague (though he seems to have encountered certain problems there) and in the areas that he set out to evangelize, where eventually he died as a martyr. Not without significance for this ancient dream of union dreamt for a thousand years is the fact that the Saint’s ashes are kept in two places: in Gniezno and partly also in Rome, in St. Bartholomew’s Basilica which, in accordance with the Holy Father’s wish, was handed over to St. Egidio’s Community.
A spiritual tissue unites the histories of various European countries. This is monasticism, taking its beginning from St. Benedict who always spoke of spirituality and work, about obedience and peace. This spiritual oneness was damaged by wars, hatred, religious separatisms. But the desire for union remains. Also in the East, in the epoch of the heated polemics with Catholicism, there is a passionate longing for Rome. It is no accident that Constantinople, the seat of the Patriarch, was named “The New Rome” whereas Christians from the Ottoman Empire were called roum, that is to say, Romans. Thus, a passionate longing for West exists in the East, perhaps for its spirituality, for its icons, or liturgy.
The spiritual oneness of Christianity has survived the period of wars and divisions. John Paul II has taught us precisely how to read it in the histories of new martyrs of the 20th century. The martyrs of the 20th century speak of union. What were the feelings of Catholics, members of the Orthodox Church, and of the Protestants on the Solovetsky Islands, the alma mater of the Soviet gulags? What were the feelings of priests, from all the European countries, but mostly from Poland, locked in the barracks of Dachau? Perhaps the truest ecumenism of all was born among Christians imprisoned in the gulags and extermination camps. And today – and this is another reason why I feel connected to Gniezno – in St. Bartholomew’s Basilica, entrusted to St. Egidio’s Community, next to the place where St. Apostle the patron of the basilica and St. Adalbert are worshiped, a memorial place has been created to commemorate the martyrs of the 20th century. The martyrs of communism, Nazism, and of religious hatred, the martyrs of missionary work, compassion and justice. All of them speak of union.
And thus, immediately after the war, this desire for spiritual union came through very powerfully. Great European Christians became the initiators of the process of unification of Europe. Alcide De Gasperi from Italy, Schuman from France, and Adenauer from Germany, all of them Catholics. The dream of union matured in the ordeal of suffering caused by World War Two. From war to union.
World war two left behind it a sad heritage in central Europe: this is where the iron curtain fell, dividing, more effectively than ever before in the European history, the Soviet East from the West. The Soviet empire had never before stretched to central Europe. The solidarity of the Europeans of the West was a response to this situation, while the other part of Europe was not controlling its own fate. Even as late as in the early 1980’s the dream of united Europe of which Pope John Paul II spoke seemed unrealizable. It sounded like an utopia, or pure rhetoric. We appreciate the remarkable stance of this great European, John Paul II, who knew how to interpret the dream of united Europe.
The generation born after World War Two began to give shape to the united Europe. But then, the next generation realized how difficult it was to fulfill that dream: to join two parts of Europe divided by the profound scar of Cold War. Those two generations witnessed epoch-making changes: above all, they witnessed the expiry of age-old animosities and the end of the division of the continent. Young Europeans no longer oppose one another, they see a common future, a gift to be shared with one another.
May I be allowed to recollect a certain moment, important for St. Egidio’s Community, but not only. I have one memory associated with Poland and I would like to recall it now because it was a great experience. On the first of September 1989, fifty years after the outbreak of World War Two, when Berlin Wall was not yet demolished but something was already stirring in Eastern Europe, we had a big ecumenical meeting in Warsaw, according to the spirit initiated by the Pope three years earlier in Assisi, when he invited religious leaders from all over the world to pray for peace together. We were invited by the Cardinal Jozef Glemp. The meeting was organized by St. Egidio’s Community which had kept up the tradition of meetings of the leaders of Christian Churches and other great religions of the world in order to pray for peace.
Those days were filled with anxiety concerning the future of Poland and Eastern Europe. Even today I can see with my mind’s eye the colorful crowd of the faithful representing various religions from all over the world gathered in Warsaw, I can remember the warm welcome offered by Warsaw’s inhabitants and the faces marked with painful memories from the times of war. The religious leaders delivered the following address for that occasion:
“Fifty years ago in Warsaw, in Poland, and then all over the world, the iron footsteps of the advancing army could be heard. Today, in Warsaw, which has become the capitol of peace, the gentle footsteps of the pilgrims of peace can be heard.”
They ended with the words:
“The tragic lesson of World War Two should be recalled again with great emphasis, as the turning point in the history of the humankind – precisely because of the fact that in the course of the past fifty years such great hopes were still associated with military conflicts… The memories of the war make us aware of the fact that every such conflict in itself is always simply madness. Religions cannot justify war as an instrument for solving conflicts between the nations. On the contrary, inspired by our religious traditions, despite the differences that divide us, we make this appeal for peace to all the rules of the world: no more wars!”
Europeans received a tragic lesson from World War Two. In reality, the history of Europe is dramatic but it is not tragic. We must not forget the drama that we have lived through. When Europe is being discussed, the first thought that comes to my mind is the thought of the extermination camp in Auschwitz. I remember millions of women, men and children whose lives were taken away from them. The Jews, the Polish. Europeans of all nations. How many people were murdered? Millions of Jews who, in spite of prejudice directed against them, had lived in our continent for centuries, were murdered without any reason. There never is a reason to kill, but Judaism was destroyed because it represented to the Nazi madness a sense of connectedness that can exist above and beyond the cult of race. Along with the Jews hundreds of millions of other people were murdered – the Gypsies, a small nomadic European nation without nationalistic sentiment – the handicapped, and many, many others! And Poland, the country where we have come today, was not meant to exist in the geopolitical project put forth by the Nazi madness. It was supposed to be the land of slaves, the space for nazi social experiments, a reserve of broken and subjugated people, at the disposal of the Third Reich.
Every reflection about Europe must begin in Auschwitz. That is why Poland is vested with great responsibility: to preserve this memory and to create space for European reflection. So frequently a victim, it has contributed to the spiritual tissue of Europe, which is stronger than everything that divides it.
For this reason, since the 1940’s the history of Europe has not turned into a tragedy, in spite of many difficulties. The continent has began to unite. Europeans have not been fighting with one another for fifty years. There has not been another world war. In fact, European Union has meant peace in the first place: peace for the Europeans. It meant that the countries were renouncing war for ever. From World War Two to united Europe: unity is peace for the Europeans. Unity means differences reconciled, harmonious richness. That is why Europe is the model of civilization: it is united and at peace, but at the same time it consists of various different worlds, cultures, languages and identities. This is a gentle civilization of diversity. Peace is the essence of Europe!
We have come a long way. But something is missing from the European construction. We experience it and we see it. We are aware of the lack of eagerness among the Europeans. We see this in contact with others, who are not Europeans. And, at any rate, Rome was not built in a day. I am very happy to be here, in Gniezno, among the Europeans who are wondering about the future of Europe, not only about its past and the present moment. The Polish Church had the courage to hope, during the dark years of the communist regime, that the division of the continent would not last forever. Today it looks forward to the future with courage, anchored in Gniezno’s hill, where so many of us Europeans have been invited to share our vision of tomorrow.
In fact, a great risk exists that this Europe will be governed by money and economy only. Such a world would not be worth living and dying for. We perceive this today in the exhausted and confused faces of the young generation, far removed from the dramas of the 20th century, but just as tempted to be carried away by great passions. Europe, so preoccupied with the safety of its borders, is short-sighted. It cannot see beyond those borders and it forgets what it once was. Europe is not just a slightly bigger Switzerland, with due respect for the Swiss Republic. Otherwise it would be a continent devoid of the revitalizing presence of the Spirit, its vision would be blurred.
This is not only a political question but the matter of the spirit. In fact, living on this huge and comfortable island has been a source of great troubles for us, Europeans and Christians. The deepest spiritual secret of Europe is not to live for its own sake only. Europeans have interpreted this secret in many different ways, some of them wrong or hasty. But Europe is universality and openness to others: not to live for its own sake only. This is the age-old secret of Christianity, filling the hearts of many European Christians. Apostle Paul, announcing the resurrection of Christ, writes: “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5,15). The Gospel calls upon us all to convert, to be reborn from living for one’s own sake only to living for Him who died and was raised for the sake of all: “that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Europe of the Spirit is Europe that no longer lives for its own sake. Such is the essence of the age-old dream of peace which has now become our common European good. This is a great dream at the outset of the new century, in the global world: let the European peace bring about peace in the entire world! Just as the European war, during the two difficult and tragic periods, transformed itself into a world war, now the European peace must be transformed into world peace. European Union equals peace in Europe. The desire for peace is written down in the European constitution. This happened between Germany and France. I remember also when the Polish bishops, humiliated by the regime’s propaganda, initiated a prophetic gesture of reconciliation with the German bishops: “we forgive and ask for forgiveness.” Today Europe means peace.
It is necessary to conduct the politics of peace so that the European peace becomes world peace. But we are still far from the realization of this dream. What did we do with peace after 1989 when we had the chance to build new international order? Today we witness many military conflicts, despite hope for lasting peace which has accompanied us since the downfall of Berlin Wall. We wasted a great historical opportunity. Tragically, between 1990 and 2000 wars killed five million people and mutilated another six million. Besides, during that decade, fifty million people were forced to leave their homes. After Cold War the time came for a modern war of great scope. Such is the result of what was to be a decade of great peace. The amount of money spent on military purposes in the year 2000 only would suffice to educate all the children in the world. At the moment there are over thirty unresolved military conflicts.
It is necessary to move the conscience of people because in contemporary world we have gradually become accustomed to using war as the means for solving conflicts. We have become used to the conflict between Israel and Palestine which has lasted for half a century now. We have become accustomed to so many conflicts in Africa where countries, created as a result of de-colonization, are threatened with disintegration. War poisons history of whole nations and transgresses the expectations of those who start it. Kapuściński wrote: “War does not end on the day when a peace agreement is reached. The suffering lasts much longer… In fact, war never ends. War is a result of severed communication between people.”
There is a European culture of peace that should be popularized. This culture could, through dialogue, restore the lost communication between people. Christian conscience can play a great role in this process. John Paul II, in the course of the twenty five years of his pontificate, was a great witness of peace: aware of the suffering that his nation experienced during the war and the dark post-war period. Last year, receiving St. Egidio’s Community at an audience, the Pope said: “We must not give our assent to the statement that war is inevitable. For the sake of peace, dear friends, you must share your experience, the experience of true fraternity that allows one to recognize in another a brother loved unconditionally. Such is the path that leads to peace, the path of dialog, hope, and sincere reconciliation.”
We must not agree to treat war as a justifiable method. The answer lies in undertaking renewed attempts at dialogue. Europe of various cultures is the teacher of dialogue. European Union is responsible for peace in a very special way. But, I suggest, other European subjects also share this responsibility. Primarily Christians and the Churches. In contemporary world various agents can cause wars: mafias, nations, guerillas, terrorists, those who make profits at war, dictators who are indifferent to the suffering of their brothers… In Africa I met many people who supported themselves by leading wars… Many people can start war using the huge amount of weapons circulating in the world. If so many people can start a military conflict, many should be able to contribute to peace, to work for the sake of peace. This is the testimony of St. Egidio’s Community: peace is not impossible, war is not invincible…
New united Europe must be sensitive to international problems: especially to the problem of peace. Peace is Christianity. Peace is valued by every man and woman, whatever their culture and their faith. Peace can become Europe’s mission in the world.
Europe cannot live for its own sake only. It is not a huge and comfortable island. This is what the immigrants tell us when, after a long and hopeful journey, they reach the southern shores of the continent: at least that is what is said by those who actually reach the land and do not perish on the bottom of the sea or in the sand of African deserts. The huge South of the world, Africa, like poor Lazarus from the Gospel sits at the doorstep of rich Europe while Europe is lavishly banqueting. Europe has to rise from the table and embrace Lazarus, her brother, not leaving him sick among the dogs. Europe must go out of the door of its home, go beyond its Southern borders, full of love and sense of responsibility. One can say: “But we have so many problems in Europe, we cannot solve the world’s problems”. It is a short-sighted reasoning. We will not solve our own problems, if we do not help others solve theirs. We cannot build comfortable houses, if we stop building a wonderful cathedral. And this cathedral, which can be build by Europe today, is peace and solidarity in the world.
According to us, Christians, Europe cannot live just for its own sake. Africa is the first continent Europe encounters in its journey through the world, where two thirds of the population are deprived of welfare: Africa of wars (with 12 unresolved conflicts), Africa of 30 million suffering from AIDS (compared to 42 million worldwide). Africa is not as far away as we think it is: we share our fate with it. We live together and die together. And there are indeed whole regions of the world where most of the population looks into the future with no hope: fathers know that their children cannot expect anything better from life. These are huge regions of misery and despair.
Large areas of the world are deprived of profits related to the general increase of earnings. Poverty has expanded in the world. As we all know (but it is worth to repeat it), according to the estimates of the World Bank, half of the world’s population today has less than two dolars for surviving one day. This exclusion also means an asymmetry in the income distribution: 80% of people living on this planet earn 20% of the world gross income. In many countries there is a huge abyss separating the rich from the poor. It seems that this situation is becoming more and more serious. A recent research of the World Bank shows that in 25 years the world population will increase by two billion and this increase will concern almost exclusively developing countries. The world population will increase from today’s six billion to eight billion, six and a half billion out of which will live in poor regions of our planet. This rise will in 98% concern poor countries, while the population of Europe will decrease (and the US population will remain stable, above all because of the constant immigration). This is a general situation, called by Michel Camdessous “the violence of economy”.
Such a situation means a gradual confirmation of the idea that there is a difference of destiny, impossible to be leveled, between the North and the South of the world, between Europe and the regions south of Europe, Africa in particular. The Europeans can no longer imagine what the world is, moreover, they withdraw from the world. Politics seem too weak, economy – incapable of leveling the differences. A doctrine of the complete isolation of Europe is becoming popular, a doctrine that has nothing to do with our culture. However, common sense and the interdependences of the world indicate that such an idea would be not only unfair but also unreasonable from the point of view of Europeans.
What will happen to Africa, which comprises today only 2% of world trade and has the largest number of AIDS victims (30 million)? The worst consequence of AIDS is the shrinking of life expectancy which has not been seen since the end of World War II: if the disease does not retreat, life expectancy of Africans in 2010 will decrease from 52 to 47 years, while the average life expectancy in Europe today is over 70 years. In some African countries these effects are already visible, for example in Mozambique, where life expectancy is just 42 years but it would be 50 years if it were not for AIDS. Every year 11 million children under 5 years of age die of diseases for which medications have already been invented and which can be prevented. Can we create a European island of happiness, if we are surrounded by the ocean of despair?
Africa – John Paul II told the participants of the ecumenical meeting in the spirit of Assissi, that took place in Palermo in 2002 – “is a continent which seems to embody the disproportion between the North and the South of our planet”. Africa is a challenge for the international conscience and for the united Europe. Beyond the Mediterranean Sea and the Arab world it constitutes in fact one enormous South. A land of people in despair at the frontiers of Southern Europe poses a threat to the rich North. It is shown by the still strong migration pressure which is a manifestation of what a French historian, Jean Baptiste Duroselle, calls a real invasion. Huge regions of poverty and despair may become the area of terrorism and violence. If this despair has not found its bin Laden yet, it does not mean that it does not constitute a danger for Europe and for the world.
Europe of the Spirit depends on us. This is a Europe whose mission is peace. However – as Paul VI emphasized – development is one of the faces of peace. Europe has much to offer to the world. But it needs a heart. Peace and solidarity coexist with deep spirituality. There is no other way. The heart must be born in Europe. And it can be born when we accept the gift of the Word of God, the gift of the Gospel. Europe of the Spirit begins when a person opens his or her heart to the Word of God, moreover, it begins when this person finds his or her own heart and starts living not only for himself or herself but also for the others. In reality our Europe is often heartless. It does not have a heart for the vast South of the world: for Africa which is the test for European conscience. Without a heart in personal, social and political life. We do not want Europe with no heart.
Europe needs a heart. This is how Europe of the Spirit is being born, spiritual, but very concrete, as it was during the times of St. Benedict. Europe of the Spirit does not confine itself to its own borders, it notices everyone, above all those who suffer because of war, the mother of all misery. Europe of the Spirit must give the fruit of the Spirit to the world. The Book says: “And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, politeness, goodness, fidelity, mildness, calm… “ (Gal. 5, 22). Europe, indeed, must become a „mild power” in the contemporary world, to use the expression coined by the Italian advocate of the united Europe, Tamass Pado Schiopp. Yes, a mild power! Because it is a power… But a mild power!
Europe, if it has a heart, will have a new face in the world, the face of peace. Europe already has a face for its neighbors: the East, Russia, Asia, the Arab and Muslim world, for Africa. The face of Europe can be and should be the face of peace. In the Book of Siracide we can read: “The heart of a man evokes a change in his face…” (Sir. 13, 25). The heart is born, what is more, it is reborn, when the Gospel calls it to life: everything depends on the men and women of Europe. Europe of the Spirit has a heart, has the hearts of its citizens: out of these hearts a new face of world peace is born, the face of the mild power.

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