“We have had the experience that our differences are not a reason to divide, but represent a multiplicity of gifts and a resource”. This is an extract from the Manifesto which was read in the Square Meeting Centre in Brussels, at the conclusion of the day meeting Together for Europe 2012.
More than a thousand people came together in Brussels from every part of Europe. Tens of thousands linked via satellite in 22 countries, all shared the message of hope, unity and peace for Europe.
“Together for Europe”: the underlying characteristic of this event set it apart from all other events for Europe: it was the complimented by a fine-mesh net of events simultaneous meetings held in 144 cities throughout Europe.
A mix of events, some small scale others large held in places of symbolic high profile in places. They brought collaboration between movements and ecclesial communities. These relationships show a glimpse of hope for future moves to act together for the common good of local communities: from Breslavai in Poland to Belfast in Northern Ireland, Oslo in Norway to Valletta in Malta. There were lots of initiatives involving people of all ages, walks of life and creeds.
In Augsburg, in Germany, the programme started with a ‘flashmob’ in the central square: seven giant balloons were released each displaying one of the seven yeses which mark up to today the commitment of the movements and communities for families, life, peace and a more balanced economy.
In Breslavaia, Poland the aim was to highlight the delicate process of meeting and reconciliation between the people of Poland and Germany (to heal the hurts lingering after the Second World War) with an event called “Christians of Germany and Poland Together for Europe”.
In Ischia, Italy, a human chain ‘encircled’ the perimeter of the island as a symbolic gesture defending the environment and of welcome. Still in Italy in Florence, at the Sala dei Cinquecento, in the Old Palace, the event had a direct live link with the main event in the Square Meeting Centre in Brussels.
And if, for some of the Movements and Christian Communities the way of brotherhood of “Together for Europe” has been an experience over a number of years, for others the events in 2012 were the chance of experiencing at first hand working together and getting to know one another better. A couple from Laudau in Germany explain: “Brussels 2012 has been an excuse to get to know one another better, to take an interest in Movements we had never heard of. We are very enthusiastic and want to concentrate our strength to bolster the Christian soul of Europe starting in our own city”.
These stories of collaboration and fraternity give credence to the possibility of giving Europe the hope that Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, spoke of in his talk in Brussels: “The greatest European mystery is the lack of hope” Because of this “we need to generate a climate of sympathy and solidarity, a sense of a common destiny has to rise up, a social network has to be born’.
“Together for Europe – Maria Voce underlined in her talk – is a fascinating undertaking: we have the possibility, also through events such as this one today, to give witness to the men and women of our times that live on the earth in a spirit of sharing opens a future of fraternity and peace for the individual, peoples, to our continent and the whole of humanity”.
Flickr photostream: www.flickr.com/photos/together-for-europe/