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January 17, 2022

Europe’s religious resources

More than ten years ago, the disputes regarding the Europe’s Christian roots were burdening more the debates on the much wanted European constitution. Although finally they were not decisive, the today’s circumstances put them in a new light. EU seems now to be threatened by disintegration, a perspective which until recently was hard to believe. Massive waves of immigrants are shaking a political project which, in its almost complete formula of 28 states, seemed to not have any credible alternative. How can we return to the old crumbling? And, if Islam is deemed as the main threat, why isn’t EU more compact exactly when the danger is so acute? Paradoxically, if somebody is against this rejoining which often claims the need to defend Europe’s Christian identity, these persons are the Christians themselves. The most prestigious Christian is the present Pope, a fervent supporter of the receiving of all the immigrants, which are an opportunity (in his vision), for the spiritual future of the continent.

After all, Europe’s relations with the Christianity – not with its “roots”, but with its present potential – can be decisive for the evolution of the joint political project. Even the ideal of a stable peace would find a more reliable ally this way, beyond the simple fears of a possible nationalistic drift. Christianity is, actually, one of the most serious resources to face the challenges of a changing world in an unstrained manner, not only in a defensive way. The question is how we see the Christianity. With a Pope like Francis, having a straight approach related to the immigrants, we have the opportunity to clarify things. Even if Mateo Salvini, a leader of the Italian euro-skeptics, goes to protest in the schools where the Christian tradition is not accepted, the connection between Catholicism and “islamophobia” (or, widely speaking, the fear of an Asian and African “invasion”) isn’t unavoidable anymore. The situation is the same in other countries, too. The Christian universalism is exactly the one that can become the main ally of a European Union in crisis. Simply avoiding referring to religion is not a solution. Of course, laicism is a decisive ground, capable to limit the dangerous religious influences. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need sap from various religions, not only Christianity.  If the relationship with the European Islam would have been more productive, terrorism would have had fewer supports. Laicism must not refuse the interference of religions, but to filter and reconvert their influence. It has to be in a fruitful tension with the religious values. And this tension does not mean only the courage to have a conflict, but the wisdom of the dialogue.

The various Christian denominations are facing also a great challenge, because their spiritual weight depends exactly on their ability to enter this game of the historical changes, in order to survive on the long term. The one who will lock himself in his own castle, waiting “better” times, will be weakened at the end. Rather than being important for providing a solution, Pope Francis has to be considered for creating a debate: what does it mean to be a Christian today? Namely, this impels us to get out of the simple attitude of corresponding to some traditions which are often under question. It’s not about overcoming the daily selfishness, but to find out what the specific of the Christian life is. If the stake of Christianity is “the neighbor”, then why are we doing everything we can to mystify its identity – although the example of the merciful Samaritan clearly refers to the care for a stranger who is in difficulty – and to sleep well by ignoring him or chasing him away?

But the spiritual support must be doubled by the political innovation. Christianity – or other religion – does not offer solutions, it only gives impulses.

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