Dreaming and preparing the future of Europe

Passion for Europe Conference, November 2020

A zoom conference on “A Europe of fraternity and social friendship”

Pope Francis is a great dreamer. Recently he published his encyclical Fratelli tutti where he shares his dreams of worldwide fraternity and social friendship. In an even more recent letter on Europe he offers his dreams on the future of this continent which is specially dear to him. On 28 november these two documents brought more than 60 participants from over 20 countries together in a zoom conference on “A Europe of fraternity on social friendship”. The meeting was organized by the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) and “Passion for Europe”, a group of committed europeans from different European institutions and social sectors.

Martin Maier SJ, Secretary of European Affairs at JESC, presented the encyclical Fratelli tutti on fraternity and social friendship which is a continuation of the groundbreaking encyclical Laudato sí of 2015 with the ecological challenge and global warming in the centre. In the heart of Laudato sí is our common home and in the heart of Fratelli tutti is the human family who lives in this home. A key of Laudato sí is that everything is connected; Fratelli tutti insists in that we all are connected and nobody can be saved alone. In Laudato sí the Pope let himself be inspired by the Ecumencial Patriarch Bartholomew and in Fratelli tutti by the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb he has met in Abou Dhabi en 2019. The dream of Pope Francis is a new alliance between the religions to build one single human family and to contribute to justice and peace in our world and to the care of creation.

After this presentation three distinguished panelists reacted from different perspectives. Pierre Larrouturou, member of the European Parliament in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and rapporteur on the EU´s 2021 budget, focused on the question of work. He underlined that work is not a commodity but profoundly linked with human dignity and he advocated for a new social dialogue inspired by Fratelli tutti. Chiara Martinelli, Senior Advisor of CIDSE, an international family of Catholic social justice organizations, illustrated the continuity between Laudato sí and Fratelli tutti in the endeavour to prepare the future not simply by repairing the old system but with new sustainable and inclusive solutions. A major challenge is to restaure the broken harmony between humanity and nature. Bruno Bobone, President of the Union of Christian Business Executives UNIAPAC, recognized that a purely neoliberal economy doesn´t work properly. He spoke out for a social market economy with a dignified salary and a shared responsibility in the companies between owners and workers.

In the center of the afternoon session was Pope Francis´ letter on Europe which was presented by Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, the General secretary of COMECE, the commission of the EU bishop conferences. He highlighted the Church´s prophetic mission and the Pope´s dreams of a Europe that is a friend to each and all, a Europe that is a family and a community, a Europe that is inclusive and generous and a Europe marked by a healthy secularism.

Ivana Geto, a political scientist from Croatia representing the young generation as a fellow of the European Leadership Programme, related these dreams with the reality of young Europeans looking for a job and concerned for climate change and sustainability. For Henning vom Stein, executive partner at Otone European Affairs consultancy group, Europe as a family and a community of peoples in “intelligent solidarity” can be a model for the new world of the future. Andreas Kolodziejak, economist at the European Commission, reflected in a very personal way on the potential of dreams in the EU institutions.

The lively debates either in groups, by chat or in direct interventions with the speakers manifested that Pope Francis´ dreams trigger dialogue and can show the path to a new reality and to a better future. There was confidence that Europe has still something to offer to humanity. JESC and Passion for Europe will be committed also in the future to bring people together to share our dreams and visions and to contribute to the future of Europe from a christian perspective.

Martin Maier SJ
JESC Secretary for European Affairs


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