After three years of preparation, the second international gathering in Stuttgart on May 12, linked by satellite to parallel events in many European cities, is about to happen. Thousands of people from Western and Central Europe will be present at the Hanns-Martin Schleyer Halle, and simultaneous gatherings will take place in cities such as Paris, Moscow, Belfast, Madrid, Budapest and Prague. Afterwards, in the second half of May, the Stuttgart experience will be lived all over again in over 30 of the main cities of Italy.
What is “Together for Europe?” It is a meeting of witness, inspired by the values of fraternity and sharing. It offers a way of overcoming prejudice, nationalism, historical wounds, social conflict, the fear of the future and loss of identity, and an answer to the big questions of meaning and values.
“TOGETHER”, two hundred and fifty communities and movements from all over Europe meeting to build bridges between different cultures and peoples, between citizens and institutions, and to give a new impetus to the construction of the continent.
The historical, cultural and spiritual dimensions will be explored by: Ulrich Parzany, evangelical pastor and leader of the Pro-Christ movement for evangelisation; Nicky Gumbel, president of Alpha International, which came to life in the Anglican Church; Andrea Riccardi, founder of the St Egidio Community; and Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement.
The second part of the event will focus on experiences and initiatives drawn from different parts of Europe, illustrating how the movements and new communities:
support and encourage family life
influence the world of work and the economy
build relationships of fraternity and solidarity with the poor and the marginalised
are committed to justice and peace in the world
work for social cohesion in the cities and respond to the challenge of multiculturalism.
Dialogue with representatives of European civil and ecumenical institutions. The dialogue will begin by describing progress since the 2004 event, and end with a view of the future. Those invited to participate include: Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission; Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy; Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Union of Christians; Anastasios Yannulatos, the Orthodox Archbishop of Tirana and the whole of Albania, and one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches; Arnold de Clermont, President of the Conference of European Churches (KEK) and of the Protestant Federation in France.
The conclusion will be a Message to Europe. This will be a declaration of commitment by movements and communities of the various Christian churches, and a proposal for the involvement of politicians and civil society.
Artistic contributions from various countries and cultures will run through the whole programme, demonstrating the wealth and variety of the European patrimony
Since 2004… “Together for Europe” is, more than anything, a new journey of communion among movements and communities of different Churches, a “test bed” of Europe as a family of united peoples. The first large gathering at Stuttgart on May 8 2004, which, thanks to the effect of the media, reached almost 100,000 Europeans, present at simultaneous and other meetings, marked a stage of this journey. It is a growing process: one hundred and seventy movements and communities involved in 2004; two hundred and fifty in 2007.
The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in 1957; with Europe Week commemorating the end of the Second World War on May 8 1945; and Europe Day, May 9, the anniversary of Robert Schuman’s historical declaration of 1950, proposing a community at the service of peace, forerunner of the European Union.
“Together for Europe” will be preceded and prepared by the congress “Together on the way” for those responsible for, and co-workers from, the various Movements and communities, in Stuttgart from May 10-11. Over 20 forums and 16 round table discussions will address many topics including: evangelisation, ecumenism, marriage and the family, the defence of life, political commitment, immigration, economics, the environment, mass media, peace and justice.
Promoters of the event
The promoters of the event are: Friedrich Aschoff, Charismatic Renewal in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany; Christophe D’Aloisio, Syndesmos – a fraternity of 126 orthodox youth organisations; Nicky Gumbel, Alpha International – evangelisation courses which came to life in the Anglican Church; Chiara Lubich, Focolare Movement; Michael J. Marmann, Schönstatt (catholic); Helmut Nicklas, YMCA, international ecumenical youth organisation; Ulrich Parzany, Pro Christ, evangelisation initiative born in the evangelical Lutheran church; Gerhard Pross, Coordinator of periodical meetings for those responsible for Evangelical Movements and communities; Andrea Riccardi, Saint Egidio community; Thomas Römer, YMCA, Munich; Gérard Testard, Fondacio – born in the catholic church in France; Sr. Anna-Maria aus der Wiesche, Fraternity of Christ, of Selbitz, born in the evangelical Lutheran tradition.
For more information: www.europ2007.org