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The Church and Europe

2012-09-03 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) – In the first in a series of Vatican Radio editorials focusing on the Church and Europe, Director of Programming, Fr. Andrej Koprowski S.J., explores the causes of the current economic crisis gripping the old continent and how Christianity can help Europe rediscover its dynamism:

The Bible describes how the Tower of Babel was built. While they were at work on it, the builders realised they were actually working against one another. The more they tried to be like God, the more they risked not being authentically human. They had lost a basic characteristic of their humanity: the ability to agree with one another, to understand one another, to work together.

Europe is in the grips of an economic crisis. The causes are not exclusively European or even exclusively economic. Its origins can be found in various spheres: from the financial crisis in the United States, to the rapid economic development of Asia; from growing unemployment with its inevitable effects on the future of the younger generation, to the lack of vision in educating people with respect for cultural and social needs; from the difficulty of formulating policies that support the family, to the demographic crisis and the surge of immigration towards Europe, with all its social and cultural consequences; from the long-term effects of ideologies and lobbies that fail to consider the community or the future of civil society, to exaggerated forms of individualism and false freedoms.

The development of the crisis is equally complex. There are multiple protagonists and causes for both the lack and the excess of development. Blame and merit can be equally divided. Ideologies tend to simplify reality and make it artificial, whereas problems need to be faced in terms of their human dimension. Social issues have become anthropological questions: artificial procreation, embryo research, human cloning – technological absolutes present a disturbing scenario for the future of humanity, often relying on instruments that the “culture of death” has placed at their disposal.

Culturally and demographically weakened, yet enriched by millions of new citizens coming from various continents, cultures and religions, Europe is in the throes of creating its future. In 1997, after a meeting in Gniezno, Poland, between John Paul II and presidents of seven European nations, German President, Roman Herzog, said: “Changes are happening very quickly today. In 25 years from now, if Europe is still an independent continent, or if it is just an appendage of American media or of Asian industry, it will be because Europe rediscovered its own dynamism at the right time – a dynamism it inherited from Christianity over the centuries”.

Benedict XVI adds: “In the multicultural situation in which we find ourselves, we are seeing a rationalistic European culture without a transcendent religious dimension, that is incapable of entering into dialogue with the great cultures of humanity, which all possess this transcendent religious quality, which is the human dimension… I believe that the purpose and mission of Europe is to discover this dialogue, to integrate modern faith and reason into a single anthropological vision that completes the human person and is capable of communicating human cultures”.
(In-flight press conference during trip to Portugal, May 11th 2010)