Together for Europe 2018 in Prague
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, will host, November 15 through 17, the annual meeting of Friends of “Together for Europe.”
Beatriz Lauenroth is a journalist and she is the press officer of “Together for Europe ”, a free fellowship of Christian communities and movements – over 300 – belonging to different Churches that network with shared objectives to the benefit of the Old Continent. They promote a culture of reciprocity through which individuals and peoples can welcome, get to know, reconcile, and support each other.
Beatriz is really a citizen of Europe: German by birth, she spent the last ten years in Holland and the previous twenty in Russia, and about those twenty years she says: «There, I lost my heart. I fell in love with that country and the beautiful relationships I had the opportunity to build with people».
We asked her to describe how the “Together for Europe” journey came about.
«In my opinion, it all began on May 30, 1998,» she tells us «when John Paul II invited all the movements and the new Church communities to St. Peter’s Square. On that occasion, Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, had the inspiration to engage together with the Holy Father to promote unity among the Catholic movements. A further step forward took place on October 31, 1999 in Augsburg, Germany, when the World Lutheran Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification».
It was a historical event for the ecumenical journey. In Augsburg, explains Beatriz, something went off: «Many of them, that same evening, gathered in the nearby town of Ottmaring, that hosts the ecumenical citadel of the Focolare. Among them, there was Chiara Lubich and other representatives of the movements such as Andrea Riccardi, Community of Sant’Egidio, and some Evangelicals, such as Helmut Nicklas, the person in charge of the YMCA (Ecumenical Association of Young Christian People) in Munich, Germany. They said, let’s meet, let’s get to know each other and start working together!».
That first part of the common journey led to the great events of “Together for Europe” in 2004 and in 2007, both in Stuttgart, Germany. Later on, in 2012, simultaneous events in 152 towns, with a central big event in Brussels and, in 2016, another big event in a central square of Munich.
Since then, in fact, the journey has never stopped: in 2016, “Together for Europe” was held in Munich, Germany, with 36 round tables and forums to share experiences, best practices, and perspectives on many issues related to Europe. In November 2017, the meeting of Friends of Together for Europe was held in Vienna, a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe.
«In Vienna, representatives from the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Russia, and Poland shared their experiences,» explains Beatriz. «And you understood that Eastern Europe was not the Eastern Europe that Westerners imagined. This is why the dialogue that began between Eastern and Western Europe, this new pathway, is essential to express a united Europe.»
Now a step further… this free fellowship of Christian movements and communities will meet in Prague, on the anniversary of the “Velvet Revolution,” the non-violent rebellion that, in 1989, overthrew the Czechoslovak communist regime. «It is a coincidence that strongly challenges us as Friends of Together for Europe, to renew our common commitment to bring into today’s post-secular culture the spirit of Christian humanism, thus offering our contribution to give life and shape to a more united Europe».
Beyond the heavy burden of fears and prejudices at this moment, particularly among the member-countries of the European Union, we want to testify that the journey towards a Europe “home of nations and family of peoples” is not a utopia.
The Prague meeting will be opened by the renowned Czech theologian-philosopher Tomas Halik, close friend of Vaclav Havel, who was the first president of the newly constituted Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003; by Jaroslav Sebek, member of the Institute of Historical Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; and by Pavel Fischer, an emerging Czech politician.
Leaders and representatives of different Movements, Communities, and Associations will also share their reflections and testimonies, to remember together another Europe, the Europe of great hopes and promises that arise from its rich heritage of ethnic, social, and cultural multiplicity that aims to communion and dialogue.
The meeting in Prague is therefore an important stage in the history of Together for Europe, in its ongoing engagement for a more united, fairer, and more fraternal Europe. The event will also be an excellent opportunity to prepare together for the upcoming elections of the European Parliament.
«The nice thing is that we often talk about the Founding Fathers of Europe: Schuman, De Gasperi, and Adenauer,» concludes Beatriz. «Young people tell us: we want to work with you, so the Europe of fathers will also become the Europe of sons and daughters. In short, the ideal of a united Europe is not something obsolete or dead, on the contrary it is as topical and as alive as never before».
For further information:
Mariapolis Center, Mladoboleslavská 667
190 17 Prague 9 – Vinoř, Repubblica Ceca
Tel. +420 286 007 711