United World Project


Polarization – Reconciliation – Reconciled diversity

11 November 2021   |   Internazionale, ,
bandiera europa

‘Hybrid’ Meeting of the “Friends of Together for Europe” in Rome

“At a time of polarization, the Holy Spirit brings about Togetherness”. This was stated by Gerhard Pross (YMCA Esslingen, Germany) the present moderator of ‘Together for Europe’ (TfE). The pandemic, together with the environmental crises and the migrants’ issue have drastically transformed our “crisis of saturation into one of desire”. Walter Kriechbaum (YMCA Munich) explained: “When we were given ‘Together for Europe’ we were entrusted with a precious treasure”. According to him, this entails encountering to listen and enhance mutual understanding; also, it entails building bridges, seeking reconciliation and thus dare to live within a reconciled diversity.

This is what really happened on the first Saturday of November 2021 at Castel Gandolfo (Rome) at the International Centre of the Focolare Movement. Gathered at the Centre were 16 members of the Steering Committee of TfE (Comunità Sant’Egidio, CVJM Germany, Efesia France, ENC Austria, Focolare, Schönstatt, Syndesmos) and more than 150 were linked via Zoom.

The day before, the leaders of the involved Movements met the Steering Committee for an intense sharing of ideas on how to shape up ‘Together for Europe’ now and in the near future. One participant commented: “Here our charisms are tangible. It is a communion of pathways that becomes a living sign of unity of in the midst of a Europe marked with centrifugal forces”.

Two important impulses

Most of the attention during the morning session of November 6 was focused upon the keynote speeches by Gerhard Pross and Margaret Karram, the new President of the Focolare Movement. In his speech, entitled “The prophetic mission of ‘Together’”, Mr Pross highlighted the cracks that run along Europe and invited to become bearers of hope. He continued: “In the midst of devastations and crises of our time, we can live the undying hope of the Gospel and be messengers of God, who, even at this time “wants to give us hope and future” (Ger 29, 11).

Margaret Karram’s contribution was entitled “The message of reconciliation in the midst of polarization”. She encourages the participants “to embrace a reconciled diversity”. This does not mean ignoring the differences, but recognizing them. So people become apostels of dialogue. ”When we engage with other cultural horizons, schools of thought, customs and paradigms that need to be appreciated, rather than being disoriented, we are enriched”. Ms Karram encouraged her listeners to have no fear of suffering. “Here is where God acts. Have the courage to build a culture of togetherness and have the courage to risk doing something new!” Referring to her lived-out experiences she underlined the absolute need of forgiveness to achieve peace.

National committees

Along the years, national Committees and local and national working groups came about spontaneously. 10 diverse Countries illustrated their dynamic “togetherness’ in Western and Eastern Europe. Some examples: On May 9, Feast of Europe, about 300 persons from 8 Countries were linked online with Austria for a two-hour dialogue. The exchanges provided a deeper understand of one another, albeit coming from different cultural and political backgrounds. In the Czech Republic, members of TfE went up on White Mountain, near Prague, as a sign of reconciliation. There, 400 years ago, Catholics and Protestants fought against each other during the Thirty Years War. In Slovenia, young journalists belonging to diverse Christian Movements came together to organized ACTIVATOR. The aim is to spread an attitude of respectful dialogue in the social media at a time of polarization. In Serbia, a group of various Movements work together with other Countries to accompany refugees during their long journeying toward a new life.

The future

The Committees of TfE in Portugal invite the ‘Friends of TfE’ for the annual meeting that will take place in their Country on 10-12 November 2022. “We want to know and understand each other even better, and that includes on a cultural, political and artistic level. That is why we need to meet”.

2023: Jòzef Pál, the Roman Catholic bishop of Timisoara, Romania, invites the Friends of TfE to his city, which, in 2023, will become the European Capital of Culture. “In my diocese, seven languages are spoken. Therefore, we are already a ‘little Europe’ and we can surely be mutually enriched with our contact with TfE”.


Press officer: Beatriz Lauenroth | beatriz.lauenroth@together4europe.org

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