The passion to ‘rekindle’ Christian values

The passion to ‘rekindle’ Christian values

We share here the testimony of Gerhard Pross, moderator of Together for Europe, who was invited to Thessaloniki (Greece) to sign a joint declaration by Christians of different Churches, in view of the upcoming European elections in June 2024.

On 15 May 2024, Declaration ‘Europe, Be Yourself!’>> was signed. I had the honour to sign it together with the President of the CEC [1], Archbishop Nikitas, the President of COMECE [2], Bishop Mariano Crociata and the Secretary General of the I.A.O. [3], Maximos Charakopoulos

It was quite unusual for us, as a network of Movements, to be represented at this level; but it was the Orthodox parliamentarians who attached great importance to our voice, because they knew that we were making an active contribution to the Christian roots of Europe.

In my brief greeting at the signing ceremony, I was able to refer to the conversation between the then President of the EU Commission Romano Prodi and Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement. On that occasion, Prodi asked Chiara Lubich how he could do Christian politics if Christians themselves do not raise their voices. Chiara then motivated us to plan an event, which was then held in May 2004, with the theme ‘Together for Europe’ and which impressively showed how much the Christian Movements contribute to our society with their commitment.

The signing was the prelude to a two-day ‘International Political Conference’ in Thessaloniki, with the aim of expressing Christian values in Europe. Numerous representatives of the mentioned Churches, politicians from European countries, university professors from Thessaloniki and other experts spoke in numerous plenary sessions. Sometimes there were controversial positions, with heated debates on the difference between Christian and European values, why the EU Future Document does not mention Churches and faith at all, and how to deal with increasing secularisation. On the other hand, very clear and encouraging Christian positions have emerged, for example from the Albanian Minister of Culture.

Our ‘7 YESes’ >>, which I was able to introduce in the first round of talks, resonated positively on several occasions. Many people eagerly asked what Together for Europe was all about, knowing nothing about it, and showed that they were interested. Numerous contacts were established. The conference raised awareness of the need to ensure that Christian values (and the Christian faith) are not removed from the EU consciousness. On the last day, one participant summed up the main problem as follows: ‘We Christians are not heard, because we are not united and therefore do not speak with one voice.’

We should raise our voices more courageously and defend our values more clearly, without imposing them on others – this is what I stated there, this is my deep conviction.

Thessaloniki, Pentecost 2024

Gerhard Pross

[1] CEC = Conference of European Churches. The CEC is a community of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Vetero-Catholic Churches from all European countries.

[2] COMECE = Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences [cattoliche] of the European Union.

[3] Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy

Europe, be yourself

Europe, be yourself

Together for Europe endorses this appeal to institutions, politicians and candidates for the European elections. The document was drafted by CEC (Conference of European Churches), COMECE (Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union) and I.A.O. (International Assembly on Orthodoxy).

The document emphasises the importance of Christian values as fundamental for the construction of Europe and invites the European institutions to a regular and transparent dialogue with Churches and religious associations, as foreseen in Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Download the declaration>>

The Steering Committe of Toghether for Europe

“Europe, be yourself!” – cf. Speech of Pope John Paul II in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on 9th November 1982