Europe Day: Strengthening harmony and cooperation

Europe Day: Strengthening harmony and cooperation

In early May the European Union and Council of Europe celebrate their respective Europe Days, promoting peace and unity on the continent. The day also celebrates foundational European values, including liberty, human rights and equality, which have fueled political reforms throughout the world.

Linked to the historic Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950, Europe Day recalls the birth of a new form of political and economic cooperation in Europe, one that is inextricably linked to peace and equality. These ambitions have deep roots in the religious—and indeed Christian—and philosophical traditions of Europe, and have been manifested in the histories of many European countries. These ideals connect Europe to the rest of the world and to all people of goodwill promoting peace, justice, and equality.

The celebration of Europe Day coincides also with the end of the Second World War. The shadow of which still shapes life in Europe today and reminds us of the tragic and violent times that ultimately gave rise to the European project. This year, the date also falls within Eastertide in the Christian calendar, during which Christians observe the ultimate inspiration for hope and courage—the Resurrection of Christ.

Today, Europe faces new barriers to increased harmony and cooperation. Churches in many places in Europe are seeking to support the renewing the European project and promoting a return to its core values. It is time for Europe to reaffirm these roots and strengthen their current expression. The Conference of European Churches has highlighted the positive role of churches in society, and a vision of Europe that goes beyond economics and politics, especially through the recent open letter “What Future for Europe?” and publication on European economic justice, Beyond Prosperity?.

“Churches do not have ambitions to be political actors,” remarked CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “They do, however, express their theology through broad and diverse dialogue within the mosaic of European society. Christian discussion of Europe is grounded in the message of the Gospel and its imperative to give voice to the voiceless, the poor, and the marginalised.”