Europe Missing a Mission, Says Prelate

Says Vision of World Too Eurocentric

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By Miriam Diez i Bosch



ROVERETO, Italy, MAY 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Trent said official European documents do not have a mission for Europe, and affirmed that their vision of the world is too "Eurocentric."

Archbishop Luigi Bressan expressed this view in the framework of the European Interreligious Meeting, which took place in Rovereto last Thursday through Sunday.

"In European documents, we often read that the people of our continent have a common heritage of values," and "we are aware that the strength of a society stems from the cohesion of its members around the same project, followed in the name of those values," he told ZENIT.

Despite this, he continued, "the official texts are disappointing, because they do not have in mind a mission for Europe. They only foresee new structures in a Eurocentric vision of the world, without being prepared to revise the rules of international economic exchanges if these do not imply profit for the so-called first world."

"We are aware that all of us are co-responsible for peace and affirm the principle that all people must be free to enjoy happiness in a manner in keeping with their nature, as creatures gifted with reason and free will," the prelate explained.

Archbishop Bressan lamented that in Europe there is a "lack of interest in solidarity and the promotion of the rights of others."

The challenge, the archbishop continued, "is to build a dynamic society where the members might share an awareness of their unity despite their philosophical, political and religious convictions."

Not only is this possible but it is "necessary and feasible," he stressed, saying "pluralism is not against cohesion, even when the diversity of cultural and religious movements can give the impression that there is no common point among them."

Speaking in Trent, birthplace of Alcide de Gasperi, one of the European Union's founding fathers, as well as of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement and promoter of unity, Archbishop Bressan said that it is important to join forces to "ensure a soul for our Europe."

A family

Orthodox theologian Katerina Karkala-Zorba of the Central Committee of the Conference of European Churches also spoke at the interreligious meeting. She called Europe "a family of democratic nations" that "work together for peace and prosperity."

However, this Europe "is not homogeneous," and in it, "diversity is a value," she noted. "Europe has many traditions and languages. It is this diversity that makes Europe unique. Therefore, it is necessary to underline that we must not fall into a 'ghettoization' of our diversities, but find a common ground for exchange."

Karkala-Zorba said she believes it is important that diversity be understood not just as an "invitation," but also as a "challenge."

"It is this flame of unity that we also discover in interreligious meetings," she explained later to ZENIT. "We can be different in our expression of faith, language, traditions [...] but we have values that we can share."