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Monday, March 27, 2017
Archbishop Vincent Nichols presents Papal document on Europe
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¬†"The key to this document is the theme of HOPE" On Saturday, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, gave a presentation on the Pope's new document on Europe in the Press Office of the Holy See. Extracts follow below. I am pleased to make this presentation in conjunction with the promulgation, today, of the post-synodal document, Ecclesia in Europa. It is thoroughly faithful to the discussions and findings of the Synod on Europe in 1999 (that I attended), and it is marked throughout by the style and clear convictions of Pope John Paul II, whose document it is. Its significance for the Catholic communities of Western Europe can be presented under three headings: * The clear statement of a vision and expectations for our European venture, and the part the Christian faith plays in it. * The call to conversion and renewal, in communion and mission, for the Catholic Church. * The relationship it envisages between the shared public and political life of Europe and the faith ≠ or faiths ≠ of its people. The key to this document is the theme of HOPE. In this, the choice of the book of Revelation is crucial. Revelation is a text of genuine, eschatological hope, presenting to us our destiny. But it is also a hope, which is to guide our way now. The Church in Western Europe must be realistic about its own life, if it is to play its part in the revitalisation of the soul of Europe. The clear statement of a vision and expectations for our European venture, which is at such a critical moment. The Europe project stands at a critical juncture with new members about to join and the elaboration of a constitution now well advanced. Repeatedly, this document calls for honesty about the reality of Europe in the way it is described and envisaged in that draft constitution. No presentation of Europe can be honest if it fails to recognise the part already played, and still played, by Christianity in the shaping of Europe. To omit such matters would be an act of ideology and unworthy of the framers of such an historic document. Europe needs to construct what this document calls "a solidarity that is global" rather than become a block that is closed and unwelcoming. In this project the motivations and vision of faith are essential. In today's world, Europe must be a tireless worker for peace. I am convinced that the project of building a multi-cultural, multi-racial Europe cannot be achieved in secular terms. What this Post-synodal Exhortation calls for is recognition of the fact that religious faith is crucial for the majority of people in Europe. Faith expresses their deepest convictions and must be seen to have its part in the building of a new Europe if the project is to win the cooperation and enthusiasm of its people. The building of a new Europe will not be achieved by marginalising that faith, in Institutions, legislation or administrative directives and judgements of the European Institutions." Recent EU Directives on discrimination in employment, for example, make it more difficult for Catholic institutions to maintain and develop their distinctiveness, and thus make their valuable contribution to the common good. The Catholic Church across Western Europe will welcome the strength of the call of this document that far more attention is given to faith, and Christian faith in particular, in the construction of Europe. There is no doubt that if the European institutions are to pay more attention to the role of faith in the life of Europe, then that faith must become more vigorous, more distinctive, more focussed on the proclamation of the Gospel as the truth about the human persona and a healthy society. The call for conversion within the Church is, therefore, entirely appropriate. This call has all the more urgency when one considers the fact that Europe, and Western Europe in particular is the only continent in the world in which secularisation has taken place to such an extent. The challenge to the Church in Western Europe is, to this extent, quite unique. For the people of Western Europe there is call to take a generous and just approach to the pressing needs of refugees and asylum seekers. The Exhortation calls for a working relationship between the Church and other faith communities, on the one hand, and the political life of the Union, on the other. This relationship is, at present expressed and explored in quite different ways in the different countries of Western Europe and the Exhortation calls for recognition of this diversity, rather than an imposition of an ideological uniformity. In Britain, for example, the Churches and faith communities enjoy a pragmatic working relationship with Governments, in which their distinctiveness and contribution is recognised in a variety of ways. At its heart, this document proclaims a real and clear hope for the peoples of Europe. It states, with confidence that this hope is real, for its source is not some private conviction but the very truth about ourselves. Christ is the full expression of that truth. We welcome this Exhortation. To quote from the first paragraph: "Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, the source of hope for Europe". source: Archdiocese of Birmingham
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