“Together for Europe” in Prague
One hundred and seventy participants from 21 European countries and 53 different Movements and Communities met together in Prague, at the heart of Europe.
The atmosphere of the congress was marked by the presence of a surprisingly large number of young people. As one young woman remarked, “we wish to write a different melody in these times of pluralisation and waning religious enthusiasm’”. “We are enthusiastic and feel the responsibility to do our part to build a united Europe in politics and society.” Together with the adults who have accompanied them along the way, they want to face the challenge of Together for Europe.
Jaroslav Šebek, a historian and member of the Institute for History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, gave a theme on “Churches in the Czech Republic and the challenges of today’s turbulent times”. The refugee crisis, according to Šebek, has become a fundamental consideration for the future of European integration where varying concepts are colliding with one another. “This is once again being symbolised by East against West”. One of the problems of today’s times is the “concentration of information generated by social media. “During the time of communism there was a lack of information, whereas today we are walking through an information jungle.“ The result, however, says Šebek, is the same: “a lack of direction and a greater propensity for manipulation and mistrust towards everything and everyone.”
Pavel Fischer, Senator, also described the current situation in the Czech Republic and set out the socio-political challenges. He stressed the importance of emotional identification through a personal experience of community which will emerge where there is space to talk and share experiences. European unity is only possible by taking all local identification processes and the individuals with whom one is travelling together seriously. The vision of a united Europe can only emerge if politics takes subsidiarity into account, respects the diversity of European peoples, languages and cultures and promotes it. “Responsibility is the answer“, as Fischer put it.
Tomáš Halík (Winner of the Templeton Prize in 2014), sociologist, religious philosopher and Roman Catholic priest made it clear in his address that Churches can no longer offer the kind of faith that was lived in the past to the present and future. To a great extent religion no longer has an influence in the decision-making process of the young generation who now live in the new cosmos of the internet. “The new generation is not prepared to receive religion without asking questions.” The Church is now facing the challenge of engaging with those who are looking for something. Halik stressed that “the future of the Church depends on its willingness to communicate with and accompany those who are looking for something.” Belief cannot be an ideology of precise answers, since, as Halík says “God also speaks in open questions”.
How will things go ahead?
Prague 2018 uncovered the Czech people’s strong sense of freedom and their willingness to commit to this. “We can learn so much from one another and be a gift for one another”, said one young man from Ravensburg/Germany. The congress makes you realise once again how important it is to spread and strengthen the “Together for Europe” network that already exists in the East and West. “For three days Prague 2018 became the ‘international capital in the heart of Europe’, said one of the participants and “’togetherness’ has once again become a matter of the heart for me and many others.”
On 9 May 2019 Europe Day will be celebrated as “Together for Europe” Day. To prepare for the day, the iniative will be supported by a European-wide chain of prayer. It will begin on 25.3.2019, the day on which the United Kingdom is expected to leave the European Union. “From Brexit to Europe Day: which also symbolises the road we are travelling together”, is the final comment of one of the participants.
The next meeting of Friends will take place from 7.-9.11.2019 in Ottmaring nearby Augsburg/Germany, where the story of Together for Europe began 20 years ago. It will be a retrospective on the history of the people with God and a perspective on a highly promising future.
For further information and photos: www.together4europe.org
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