Following the successful weekend at “La Pairelle”, JESC co-organised a panel discussion, along with the Chapel for Europe, who graciously hosted the event. The theme was on “Rediscovering the European Common Good”. Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, courteously agreed to act as keynote speaker to set up the panel discussion.
In his keynote speech, Mr. Van Rompuy gave three examples, during his time as President of the European Council of what he referred to as “applied ethics”:
- The banking crisis exemplified the need for trust in institutions, “It was ironic that the banks, in which the public had huge confidence, were saved by politicians, who were not trusted at all by large parts of the population.”
- The role of current economic growth models in Europe and the problems of adaption to fundamental societal change: “Our growth model has changed dramatically in the course of the last several decades. Wrongly, this is often presented as if we still live in a purely capitalist system. Public authorities play an ever-growing role. The main problem is that companies are working internationally, while the countervailing powers are still too national.”
- The recent migration and refugee crisis, which are bound up with identity and morality in leadership: “The recent crisis, the multiple crisis, was also a moral crisis. A balance had to be found between ‘ethical idealism and political realism’, between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility, between politics as the art of the possible and politics as the art of the necessary.”
On the topic of European culture, Mr. Van Rompuy discussed the concept of a common base in a plural society, discouraging the idea of “absolute unity” as an objective in a peaceful and stable society and nothing the necessity of people-to-people contact especially among young people in a time of tablets and smartphones.
You can read the full speech of Mr. Van Rompuy, here.
After Mr. Van Rompuy speech, reactions and contributions followed by the panellists of the evening; Marie de Saint-Chéron of Safran, and member of the “Passion for Europe” group, Arch. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ (President of COMECE), and Rev. Christian Krieger (President of CEC). Martin Maier SJ, Secretary for European Affairs at JESC, moderated the panel.
During the discussion which followed, Marie de Saint-Chéron agreed that “common good” is more than solely a European issue, but a broader, moral issue in the world. Archbishop Hollerich added that the EU is the object of study in countries like Japan, where regional tensions are palpable. On the topic of unity in COMECE, he also noted that the bishops, like the politicians and citizens, are divided on political issues. Reverend Krieger stressed that diversity in Europe should not be underestimated.
The evening was concluded with a convivial reception in the Chapel’s lobby.
You can see more pictures of the event, here.