Wake up, Europe!

Wake up, Europe!

This year, Together for Europe (TfE) in Belgium celebrated Europe Day together with the Schuman Centre, which organises the annual ‘State of Europe Forum 2024’ event in Brussels, the host city of the European Union institutions.

The conference, entitled ‘Wake up Europe’, was prepared in cooperation with the Capella for Europe, the TfE Belgium committee, the EEA (European Evangelical Alliance) and the Carmelite Church, where the Forum was held. The participants at the Forum came from various Western and Eastern European countries (Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, Ukraine), as well as a few participants from Armenia.

A rich two-day programme was presented, containing, among other things, prayers for the EU and reflections on the upcoming European elections. Among the many contributions, we mention only a few such as, for example, the impulses on the history of the ‘awakening’ of Europe – by Jeff Fountain of the Schuman Centre/Amsterdam, Christian Institute for European Studies. Fountain examined its origins, based on the visions, but above all on the friendship of three Christian politicians from previously hostile nations: Robert Schuman (France), Konrad Adenauer (Germany) and Alcide de Gasperi (Italy). Prof. Evert van de Poll from the University of Leuven referred to ‘moments of grace’ in Europe’s rich history.

This was followed by the main reflections of two speakers from the cultural and ecclesial fields: Herbert Lauenroth, speaker from the ÖLZ (Ecumenical Centre) Ottmaring and long-standing member of the TfE Steering Committee, and the auxiliary bishop of Kamyanets-Podiliskyi in Ukraine, Radoslaw Zmitrowicz. Both speakers emphasised that Christians are ambassadors and architects, indeed witnesses, of new spaces of reciprocity, of reconciliation, of shalôm, of that peace which is founded in the Gospel and which our increasingly bellicose times so urgently seek.

One participant commented: ‘This peace, this witness of reciprocity – or “mutual otherness”, as the German theologian Eberhard Jüngel rightly called it – is entrusted first and foremost to Christians of all the different Churches, traditions, Communities and Organisations. If this witness is missing, nothing else counts’.

At the Chapel for Europe, TfE set up an exhibition of crosses from various cultures and Christian denominations, which can be visited until after the European elections.

Beatriz Lauenroth (TfE International Secretariat) and Anne Plancke (TfE Belgium Committee)

Programme 9 – 10 – 11 May>>

The State of Europe Forum 10 – 11 May>>

European Studies Day, 9 May>>

Programme European Studies Day, 9 May>>

Speech of Herbert Lauenroth>>