Catholics and Orthodox Discuss Europe’s Soul

Zenit News May 5, 2006

The Crisis Is Cultural, Says Communiqué

VIENNA, Austria. The contribution of Christians is indispensable to restore Europe’s soul, Catholics and Orthodox affirmed in an unprecedented meeting on culture in Vienna.

“We believe that Christians, preaching the hope brought by Christ’s resurrection, united together with people of other faiths and convictions, can help everyone to live in an ethically grounded, just and peaceful society,” the participants stated in the final message of the meeting. The three-day meeting ended today.

This was the first time that the Holy See organized a symposium such as this with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.

Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department of External Relations of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, presided over the meeting.

The meeting began Wednesday and was attended by lay and religious experts chosen jointly by the Vatican and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Father Bernard Ardura, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented the conclusions of the meeting today.

According to the participants, the present crisis the process of European integration is undergoing is due to the failure to adopt the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union.

However, for Catholics and Orthodox, the statement said, “the crisis that splits Europe is of a cultural order: Its Christian identity is being diluted. The situation of European peoples is characterized by man’s profound doubt about himself: He knows what he can do, but does not know who he is.”

Hedonism

This crisis, the participants acknowledged, has “dramatic demographic consequences: the rejection of children, unions without a future, trial marriages, homosexual unions, the refusal to share life with a person in marriage.”

“All this is a genuine European demographic suicide, in the name of egoism, and hedonism,” the message stated.

To respond to these challenges, the participants “agreed to give an important role to the exciting mission of education and formation.”

“All education is discovery of a heritage that arouses love and recognition. In this way, we will be able to contribute to rediscover the Christian roots,” the statement said.

Both Catholics and Orthodox agreed the need to educate Christians “to present Christian values in a comprehensible manner: The pastoral program on culture depends on this.”

“Prefer Nothing to the Love of Christ” is the motto proposed to “find ways of synergy, common witness of the faith for a generous new evangelization of Europe, that economic giant but spiritual dwarf.”

According to the participants, this “common witness concerns especially the areas affected by the destruction of the family, bioethics, and the domains of the social doctrine of the Church.”

The Vienna-based Pro Oriente Foundation sponsored the event, along with the Bradley Foundation of the United States.