“Together for Europe”: achieving unity by living it
On the way towards the reconciliation of diversity. This idea lay at heart of the last meeting of the “Friends of Together for Europe” (IpE). The event took place on 6 November at Castel Gandolfo, Rome. Sharing reflections and experiences strengthened the bond among people whose life experience has been very different.
The international network of Christian Movements met again this year: 16 members of the steering committee of “Together for Europe” (Sant’Egidio Community, YMCA Germany, Efesia France, ENC Austria, Focolare, Schönstatt, Syndesmos) and over 150 people connected via web met on 6 November 2021 at the Focolare Movement’s International Centre in Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy for a time of sharing and practical commitment. Polarisation, reconciliation and overcoming diversity were among the central themes of this meeting.
The day consisted of various interventions, with contributions from Gerhard Pross from Young Men’s Christian Association of Esslingen, Germany who is currently moderator of “Together for Europe”, and Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement.
In his address, Pross invited us to be “bearers of hope”: “In the midst of the upheavals and crisis of our time, we can live the indestructible hope of the Gospel and be messengers of God.”
Margaret Karram, with her message of unity, encouraged everyone to become “apostles of dialogue” during this time of polarisation. “Engage with other cultural horizons, ways of thinking, habits and paradigms in order to appreciate them. This does not disorient but enriches.”.
IpE’s mission has always been the free convergence of Christian Communities and Movements from different Churches capable of creating relationships of communion while respecting diversity. This is an effective response to the ongoing need for a culture of reciprocity and fraternity.
For some time now, the national committees and working groups that have formed spontaneously over the years, have been contributing to this process by sharing the details of the progress they have made.
From the Czech Republic came the story of the journey that led some members of IpE to visit the White Mountain, near Prague, on 9 May 2021, Europe Day. On the terrain where 400 years ago there were clashes during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Catholics and Protestants publically admitted to their mistakes, asked for mutual forgiveness, and expressed their readiness to be of service to Bohemian society which today consists largely of people who do not define themselves as believers.
In Germany, at the end of 2020, the National Committee proclaimed a year of encounter and friendship. From January 2021 onwards, in fact, a “virtual living room” has been created once a month, where the various initiatives and groups are invited to meet and where, in turn, a representative of a Community or group is interviewed. This enables people to get to know one another better and share experiences.
Serbia spoke about the initiative of a group of Movements from different countries involved in supporting refugees: “In Belgrade, we are often in contact with various people in the refugee camps. When they apply for asylum at the Embassy in Belgrade, Hungary, they often have a long wait ahead of them. We offer them food or shelter during this time and beautiful friendships develop. They often continue when there are opportunities to spend times of prayer together and visit one another.”
Maria Grazia Berretta