GOSPEL THE POWER UNITING EUROPEANS
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki
The worthiest Priests Cardinals,
The venerable people of Consecrated Life
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Prelate Priest Ireneusz!
Thank you for inviting me to the symposium ‘Saints Cyryl and Metody – patrons of Europe. Vision of St. John Paul II’, organized within the Third International Congress of the ‘Europa Christi’ movement 2019. Unfortunately, due to my duties undertaken earlier, I will not be able to participate in this event. I am participating spiritually together with organizers os the symposium, with invited speakers and all participants of the meeting and I assure you about my support and prayer.
Moreover, as the chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference, I express my gratitude towards the Venerable Prelate Priest for another initiative, undertaking such an important issue concerning the identity and future of Europe, in the context of the thought of John Paul II, in which life and work of the saint apostles Slavs Cyryl and Metody have a key significance. It seems that both the current symposium and the ‘Europa Christi’ movement are the fruit of careful recognizing the signs, with care about heritage which was passed over to us by the previous generations – about Europe.
Among the signs of time, referring to the Old Continent, one should mention the significant political-economic-social crisis and the growth in popularity – not only among particular political groups but also in whole societies - a new attitude to the idea of European integration. It is constructively critical towards the re-formulated one in the recent years and also distant from the thought of the founders of an expression of European unity which is the European Union in its current shape. The example of this phenomenon is the decision about the so-called brexit, expressed by the British democratically.
The above-mentioned tendencies result from a definitely fundamental crisis, that is, the crisis of the European identity. Whereas this one is the result of a slow but systematically ideological questioning Christian axiological attitudes of Europe. This process is not only the issue of academic discussions, limited to the European groups of intellectualists – this is an issue which finally touches all inhabitants of Europe, because – as Robert Schuman, experiencing the tragedy of the First and the Second World Wars wrote – ‘in order to have peace, first we should have Europe’. The Old Continent, deprived of its cultural unity, whose identity is indicated by Christianity, stops being Europe.
The Christian Europe on the eastern side of the iron curtain, brutally drained by the Marxist ideology, was joined a more sophisticated, much more subtle and more camouflaged drainage, directed not to the whole society, but focused on intellectual elites of Western Europe. Imperceptibly, culture and art, science and legislation became a field of axiological revolution which is today proved by a visible war of cultures.
In this context decisions of popes seem to be prophetic. First the decision of Paul VI about proclaiming St. Benedict, a Benedictine from Nursia, a patron of Europe in 1964, who lived at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries and who was called by Pius XII the Father of Europe. The pope of the Vatican Council wrote so about the great Patriarch of the West then: ‘At the times when the Roman empire, destroyed throughout a long history, was collapsing, some European countries were falling into backwardness, others still lacked higher education and spiritual merits, due to his effort of his endurable virtue, a new beam of hope appeared for this continent. First of all, he brought Christian social culture, with the cross, book and a plow in hands to people inhabiting the areas at the Mediterranean See to Scandinavia, from Ireland to Poland’.
The second prophetic decision was made 16 years later by the Holy Father John Paul II, on the Christmas eve in 1980 when two brothers from Tesaloniki – the saints Cyril and Metody – were proclaimed co-patrons of our continent. ‘ Europe – as John Paul II wrote – in its whole geographical shape is somehow a fruit of functioning two trends of Christian tradition. (…) St. Benedict, who had not only influence on Europe – mainly the western and central one – but he also reached other continents through his Benedictine means, is in the centre of this trend which comes from Rome, from the capital city of Peter’s successors.
The saint brothers from Tesaloniki, prove the contribution of the ancient Greek culture, whereas the range of radiation of Constantinopolitan Church and the eastern tradition were so deeply inscribed in spirituality and culture of many peoples and nations in the eastern part of the European continent (see John Paul II ‘Egregiae virtutis’, 3).
Those prophetic decisions of popes are not only a symbolic recommendation of necessity of returning to the sources of European identity and the power in the Gospel uniting the Europeans. This is a call for intercession of those who were creating strong united Europe on the rubbles of the old world ages ago and today they can help us renew fundaments of European universitas with their intellectual-spiritual heritage.
I would like to express my gratitude again to organizers for undertaking such an important issue. I hope that deep learning the vision of Europe of John Paul II in which – on various levels – life and mission of Saint Cyril and Metody playing the basic role – will help us uncover the beauty of the uniting power of the Gospel, also through us and those in Europe, who are not indifferent to the fate of not only our continent but also the whole European civilization.
With great expression of respect and blessing
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki - the Metrpolitan of Poznań and the chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference , and the vice-president of Conference Council of European Episcopates
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 8/2019 (24 II 2019)