The Church, a faithful companion on the road to European unification

As the continent celebrates Europe Day on May 9, the President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) says the Catholic Church will continue to be “a faithful and honest companion in this path and in this process” of European unification.

By Christopher Wells

Adapting to changing circumstances “must be embraced with courage and determination,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, says in statement on “Fidelity to European Values” issued on Europe Day 2022 .

Celebrating “peace and unity in Europe”, the Day marks the anniversary of the Schuman declaration of 1950, which proposed the pooling of French and West German coal and steel, leading to the first European community , the European Coal and Steel Community.

Consider change to preserve inspiration and values

Europe Day, Cardinal Hollerich notes in his statement, was inspired by the desire to preserve peace and security, and to achieve sustainable growth and stability; and based on shared values ​​such as freedom, respect for human dignity and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, solidarity and subsidiarity.

“Today, he adds, we may live in a world where faithfulness to this inspiration and these values ​​means envisaging change for the European Union“. The cardinal indicates in particular two “directions of change”, concerning the Conference for the future of Europe, which ends on Monday; and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

A positive impact

Cardinal Hollerich underlines the “creativity and freshness” of the proposals which will be presented to the European institutions on Monday by the Conference for the Future of Europe. The 49 proposals, accompanied by concrete suggestions for their implementation, are the fruit of “a daring experience of citizen participation”, an experience that the European bishops hope to see continue.

“As a Church, we are ready to play an even more active role in this.”

In his statement, Cardinal Hollerich says expectations are high for the institutions of the European Union to act on the proposals, saying “Europeans want a respectful, responsible, social and sustainable economy.”

Membership of the European Union

Unfortunately, the Cardinal notes that the commemoration of Europe Day in 2022 is taking place as war is once again raging in Europe. “Since the beginning of the aggression of Ukraine by Russian forces,” he says, the bishops “pray and hope for peace.”

It takes note of the humanitarian, financial and military support that European nations have offered Ukraine, as well as the desire of many European citizens for “significantly closer defense and security cooperation.

In this context, Cardinal Hollerich takes up Ukraine’s request for EU membership, declaring: “This request deserves a positive and realistic response”. Likewise, other European nations, such as Moldova, Georgia and other European nations that have made similar demands in the past “need a credible prospect of membership.”

Wholeheartedly embrace European unification

Cardinal Hollerich concludes his statement by saying that the Catholic Church has never ceased to “wholeheartedly” embrace “the process of European unification and its underlying values”, even if it has sometimes expressed reservations about isolated political questions”.

On this Europe Day, he said, “we want to encourage the political leaders of the institutions and Member States of the European Union to take up the new challenges and opportunities ahead”.

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