Why Together for Europe is going to Timisoara

by | Aug 16, 2023

Three questions to Bishop József-Csaba Pál, Timisoara (Romania) “This is the time when, in addition to cultural initiatives in museums and in holding memorials, we must also open the doors of our Churches to show the Christian roots of our people, our country and our city.” This was the reaction of Roman Catholic Bishop József-Csaba […]

Three questions to Bishop József-Csaba Pál, Timisoara (Romania)

“This is the time when, in addition to cultural initiatives in museums and in holding memorials, we must also open the doors of our Churches to show the Christian roots of our people, our country and our city.” This was the reaction of Roman Catholic Bishop József-Csaba Pál (born in 1955) upon the announcement of the nomination of Timisoara as one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2023.

What does this mean concretely?

  • You have been the Roman Catholic Bishop of Timisoara since 2018. It must have been a great joy for you when you learned that Timisoara was awarded the coveted title of “European Capital of Culture” for 2023. What do you think is the motivation for such a decision?

For centuries, in Timisoara, the many different Churches and nationalities have peacefully lived side by side. They have been able to preserve their respective identity, and in this coexistence, diversity was seen as a mutual gift. Through living in families of mixed marriages and in mixed neighbourhoods they learned to respect and appreciate one another. That is why I think Timisoara has this experience to offer Europe: the spirit of peaceful coexistence.

  • After eight months as “European Capital of Culture,” what do you think is Timisoara’s current contribution to today’s Europe?

In the spirit of multiculturalism there have been many cultural programmes.

For example, with young people we organized a week-long Ecumenical Youth Festival from 1st – 7th May. In the past our ancestors were driven to Timisoara by unemployment or the demand for certain professions. Today we also give a foundation to our living together but from a Christian point of view: we are all children of our heavenly Father. For His glory we want His children to get along with one another, to help and love each other. This should be the visible sign that Timisoara gives to Europe.

Young people from seven Churches and many different languages worked for fourteen months to prepare this Youth Festival. In the preparatory phase they said to themselves: the Festival must emanate something youthful, Christian and in the spirit of unity. And they succeeded: about 30 programmes, including a play staged in the Timisoara Opera Hall, a procession through the city in which we visited several Churches, a meditation during a boat trip on the Bega Canal, various lectures, a Gen Verde concert in the Timisoara Philharmonic Hall, etc… In addition, an ecumenical choir was formed comprising 40 young people who currently perform in different venues.

  • Why did you extend the invitation to organise the Annual meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” in November in your city? What do you expect from it?

In 2016 I attended a larger event of Together for Europe in Munich. I really enjoyed it and thought: these people from different Churches are doing what I have always dreamed of: living joyfully in unity in the presence of God. This is an overwhelming testimony. Now they must also witness this unity in God in Timisoara. When they come to Timisoara, we will strengthen each other in this very commitment.

Thank you for this conversation.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Bishop József-Csaba Pál during the Ecumenical Youth Festival, Timisoara May 2023

 

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