Source: Vatican News
The 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, was marked on Sunday, Europe Day, by Pope Francis after the Regina Caeli and by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) at a special ceremony in Luxembourg.
Speaking after the Regina Caeli prayer, which was streamed from the Vatican library, Pope Francis said the Declaration "inspired the process of European integration, enabling the reconciliation of the peoples of the continent after the Second World War, and the long period of stability and peace from which we benefit today."
Inviting all those who hold positions of responsibility in the European Union never to fail to be inspired by the historic document, he urged them to face the social and economic consequences of the pandemic "in a spirit of harmony and collaboration."
In 1950, European nations were still struggling to overcome the devastation of World War II, which had ended five years earlier. The Declaration presented by French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, on 9 May 1950, represents a milestone in the process that saw the merging of economic interests that would help raise standards of living and be the first step towards a more united Europe.
Most important, the pooling of coal and steel production proposed by Schuman, aimed to make war between historic rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible", the Pope said.
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich attended a special Europe day ceremony in the village of Schengen in Luxembourg, where the Schuman Declaration was signed. He lit a candle "for the future of Europe and its citizens, in the context of the current Covid-19 crisis."
In an interview with Sister Bernadette Reis, from Vatican Radio Cardinal Hollerich said Europe Day 2020 is a "great day of celebration."
"If you look back to the process of European integration, we can be thankful," he said. "We have peace, a certain unity, European values, and we can be proud of what our parents and grandparents built on this continent."
But Cardinal Hollerich warned that fear has crept insidiously inside Europe, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. "Fear is always a bad counselor. Fear has closed the borders. Fear has brought new nationalisms, which are, in fact, national egoisms."
He urged Europeans to look back to the founding fathers and their Christian roots. They were "inspired by their Christian faith for reconciliation, to see not an enemy in the other, but a friend who had been lost".
Europe's Christian roots, said Cardinal Hollerich, need to be lived now in a spirit of solidarity and fraternity, to overcome the fears that divide nations.
Cardinal Hollerich expressed his concern at the treatment by some European countries, of people seeking refuge in Europe.
"It is inadmissible that people who see Europe as a haven of peace, of solidarity - who believe in our values - get killed while trying to enter this Europe," he said.
The Cardinal concluded that Europe and its politicians need to put "the weakest and the poorest at the centre of their concern."
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