Global Governance

Our responsibility to make globalisation an opportunity for all

Commission of the (Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE)

A Report to the Bishops of COMECE


This report on Global Governance has been in preparation for one and a half years. On receiving this timely text, we should like to thank all those who have contributed to its elaboration. We are most grateful to them for the time, thought and work they have invested. Drawing upon personal experience and competence in various fields as well as on the wealth of the Church’s social teaching, this report is an expression of the Church’s desire to explore and respond to a need expressed by society as a whole.

We welcome this report for three reasons in particular. Firstly, it brings us face-to-face with the concept of global governance. Global governance, as opposed to global government, means a networked approach to global problems that involves governments, business and non-governmental organisations as well as Churches and other religious communities. Real efforts towards a system of global governance can reassure people that our world is not out of control or lacking guidance. Working towards a credible mechanism for global governance offers the prospect of addressing global issues in ways which both protect against hegemonies of whatever kind and also promote the fundamental values of justice and freedom. This is good news. We understand that for good reasons the report does not address every matter that requires a solution at the global level. However, the search for solutions to issues relating to international security, trans-national migration, global media, scientific and technical advances and bio-medical questions, may benefit from the pioneering work that has been accomplished in this report.

Secondly, we welcome the report especially on behalf of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) whose task is to monitor and comment on European Union policy. A key conclusion of the following text is that because of its own genesis, architecture and self-understanding, as well as its responsibilities in policy areas such as trade, competition and development co-operation, the EU has a crucial role to play in developing the existing international order into a system of global governance.

We consider that the European Union is a pioneering model of regional integration, setting an example for the future of governance in many other regions of the world, despite its still nascent and therefore contingent character in some policy areas. We hope that this report will also contribute to reviving reflection and public debate on the deeper significance of European integration.

Finally, this report comes at a decisive moment for the future of global security and therefore of governance. When the authors decided to present it to us in September 2001, they did not imagine that its publication would coincide with a period of great anguish, pain and uncertainty. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11 September destroyed thousands of innocent lives and brought grief to the friends and families of the victims. We are all deeply saddened by these events and we are united in condemning the violation of the sanctity of human life.

In the aftermath of these crimes against humanity, there can be no easy solution. Military and security measures alone will not resolve a deep malaise in many regions of the world, where the richer parts of the world are resented as being unfair, selfish and oppressive. It is not only in these regions that fanaticism and extreme hate have developed; poverty, inequality, hunger and humiliation, wherever they are found, provide a fertile breeding ground for fanaticism and terrorism. Reducing the risk of terrorism therefore also necessitates a serious and renewed effort to promote the development of peoples.

Globalisation has been brought about as a result of immense technological progress. It has brought us an exceptional growth in the exchange of information, capital and goods. However, it has not contributed sufficiently to significantly reducing poverty and inequality. We therefore hope that the proposal for global governance, contained in this report, will point towards a new approach to development. We recall what the Second Vatican Council said in its Pastoral Constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’: “all that men do to obtain greater justice, wider brotherhood, a more humane disposition of social relationships has greater worth than technical advances” (No. 35). The relevance of this statement has been reconfirmed in a real and dramatic sense.

We hope that this report on Global Governance will find many readers among Christians and all people of good will. We invite you to send us your reactions and comments.

Bishop Josef Homeyer, President of COMECE
Bishop Attilio Nicora, Vice-President
Bishop Adrianus van Luyn, Vice-President

Commission of the (Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
September 2001

Executive Summary

1. The pursuit of the global common good is the core challenge for all concerned with governance today. It is a responsibility shared by all: individuals, families, companies, as well as states and their leaders. Thus far most of these actors have been motivated chiefly by their own specific interests. In the future world of globalisation mankind will need to accept new values in order to alleviate the plight of the poor. The hope for such a new vision has inspired this report on global governance. It was commissioned by the members of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) as a follow-up to the Social Congress on Europe’s Responsibility for Global Development, held in Brussels 31 March – 1 April 2000, just a few months after trade ministers failed to launch a new trade round at the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle.

Deciphering the signs of the time

2. In the span of one generation global economic interdependence has grown extraordinarily. This development, generally called globalisation, is the consequence of enormous technological progress and the determination, demonstrated by political decisions, to open national economies internally and externally to competition. This process will continue; it will neither stop nor go into reverse. Thus far, globalisation has brought improvements and opportunities for many people in many parts of the world. However, many have not been able to adapt to it and thus were excluded from its benefits. Consequently they are disadvantaged. Whilst globalisation makes it possible to enjoy the experience of encountering a world of diversity and greater efficiency, it also raises fears about the loss of cultural identity. Global governance is the key to ensure that the positive impacts of globalisation are enhanced and that its potentially negative effects are diminished.

3. Whilst economic interdependence has been reinforced in recent years, the absolute number of very poor people has grown worldwide. Material inequality between countries and within countries has also increased. Moreover, significant global environmental risks have made their appearance on the world stage. To date, efforts to reduce poverty and inequality through official development aid (ODA), which in any case is shrinking, have produced only poor results. The same is true for international efforts to reduce global environmental damage.

4. From now on, the world and its peoples - God’s Creation - need and deserve another, more coherent approach. Open economies will not be sustainable without the willingness of states to open up politically as well. In a world marked by growing interdependence, the European Union is a unique and convincing example of a governance system based on supranational and multilateral political co-operation. Furthermore, the political will to achieve and maintain a system of global governance must be nourished by firm convictions and values. In a world where no single power – even the strongest – can or should exert full control, worldwide agreement on a list of basic values and principles is essential.

Values and principles for global governance 5. This report proposes a series of core values and principles as the foundation of a system of global governance: respect for human dignity, responsibility, solidarity, subsidiarity, coherence, transparency and accountability. Churches and other religious communities play a vital role in promoting these values. 6. Growing economic interdependence must be matched by political interaction at the global level. This is necessary in order to deal effectively with aspects of finance and trade that cannot be resolved at country or regional level. It is also a prerequisite for engaging in a new joint effort to reduce worldwide poverty and global environmental risks. Global governance should not, however, take the place of national governments and regional organisations such as the European Union. It cannot replace them; it must rather acquire legitimacy from them. Whether poorer countries will develop economically, whether industrialised nations will master the twin challenges of more global competition and an ageing population, depends primarily on the quality of their domestic policies. 7. In addition to governments, a system of global governance has to involve a series of different actors who share a certain number of basic values. The business sector must strive to conjugate its own long-term interest with the global common good. Responsible input by international non-governmental organisations provides a significant contribution to the emergence of a world public opinion.

Proposals for the existing international institutions 8. In institutional terms, the creation of a system of global governance requires the revision of the mandates of existing international organisations. This is necessary in order to address conflicting objectives, barriers to coherent behaviour and gaps in the institutional architecture. 9. The present difficulties related to launching a new round of comprehensive trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) illustrate current problems of governance. The existing WTO agreement on agriculture needs to be revised in order to improve market access for developing countries. Multilateral agreements on investment, on principles for competition policy and rules for public procurement are necessary to safeguard against possible distortions stemming from unilateral actions, to improve investment conditions worldwide, including in the developing countries, and to help to combat corruption. Such agreements could be worked out in the framework of the WTO. Issues relating to social rights and environmental standards need to be addressed. Ultimately they have to be entrusted to the competent international organisations. 10. Recent initiatives by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) against money laundering and harmful tax practices are promising and they must be vigorously pursued. These initiatives, as well as those launched by the international financial institutions with regard to stability in financial markets, should be continued. 11. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) needs a stronger mandate to defend core labour standards which aim to guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining, to eliminate all forms of forced labour, to abolish child labour and to eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The ILO should be mandated to deal effectively with social concerns and especially with the problems of unemployed and migrant workers in this era of globalisation. 12. Another lacuna in the international institutional architecture is to be found in the obvious weakness of the environmental pillar. This warrants urgent attention in the form of comprehensive reform of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or even better the creation of a new World Environment Organisation (WEO) to enable it to initiate and supervise international efforts to deal with the deterioration of the global climate, the depletion of the ozone layer, the conservation of bio-diversity, the protection of forests, the ongoing process of desertification and the task of supplying sufficient clean water for all. Other failures or weaknesses of existing international institutions may appear in the course of further analysis, but the above-mentioned require urgent attention.

Creating a Global Governance Group (3G) 13. This report recommends the creation of a Global Governance Group (3G). This Global Governance Group would deal with horizontal matters on the global level and assure a minimum of co-ordination and coherence in the system. Its contribution in this regard is essential, because even after a comprehensive review of the existing institutional architecture, the problem of coherence, orientation and final arbitration is likely to persist. The system of global governance will remain unfinished without this final key stone. 14. If a Global Governance Group is to be effective, its members must be the heads of government. They are the only actors who can deal with horizontal issues in a credible and effective way. A Global Governance Group needs legitimacy through an acceptable representation of all nations. It should therefore be composed of the twenty-four heads of government, which have executive directors on the boards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The selection mechanisms at these institutions are based on a limited number of constituencies which group countries with geographical, historical or economic ties. They have the advantage of being tested and respected for more than fifty years and they are viable at least for an initial phase. The Global Governance Group would be joined by the secretary general of the UN and the director generals of IMF, World Bank, WTO, ILO and the proposed new World Environment Organisation (WEO). 15. It is our hope that the Global Governance Group would give a voice to all regions and peoples of the world and thus bring us closer to the “public authority with universal competence” for which Pope John XXIII called in 1963.

Global Governance

Our responsibility to make globalisation an opportunity for all

The Report

Preface 1. Following their Social Congress on Europe’s responsibility for global development, the Bishops of COMECE (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) asked a group of experts to prepare a report on the ongoing debate on global governance. This report focuses on the essential underlying conditions and the concrete steps needed to establish a system of global governance. We, as Christian lay people, with varied levels of experience of work in international organisations and businesses, should like to express our gratitude for the opportunity given to co-operate as an international and intergenerational group on this text.


2. Over the last three decades cultural, economic, environmental and political interdependence on the global level has increased and reached a degree that was unknown before. To face this phenomenon of globalisation and to adapt political decision-making to this new situation, this report recommends a stronger system of global governance. It is inspired by Pope John XXIII’s prophetic vision - as expressed in his 1963 encyclical letter Pacem in Terris - of the “need for a public authority with universal competence” (NO 137). This is not necessarily to suggest that an entirely new set of global institutions is required. The existing institutional framework requires some reform but above all support and resources. Therefore the report focuses on the effective additional steps required to create a coherent global institutional architecture. Given its particular experience over the last fifty years, the European Union and its member states bear a particular responsibility to promote reforms at global level. 3. The report itself contains three parts. The first chapter presents some observations concerning the ever-growing global economic interdependence, the worldwide extent of poverty and inequality, the crisis of our natural environment and finally the spiritual dimension of greater global interdependence. At the end of the chapter a broad definition of "global governance" is given. The second chapter discusses core values and principles that would need to underpin global governance. The third part offers concrete proposals for a number of institutional and collective steps to facilitate a more coherent and efficient system of global governance.

Part I
Living in an interdependent world

4. Since the 1970s, trade in goods and services between countries and continents has almost tripled. The rise in foreign direct investment has risen dramatically, reaching an annual level of more than US$800 billion. This degree of international financial market integration is unprecedented in history. Growth in trade and foreign direct investment has substantially outperformed growth of world output. This provides evidence of an ever-growing international division of labour and of a deepening interdependence of the world economy.

5. Globalisation has become a widely used term to describe the ongoing process of increasing global economic interaction. It is spurred by impressive technological progress especially in the fields of information, communication and transport, as well as by political decisions to open up and deregulate markets, and further enhanced by international competition. Although initially facilitated by intentional political decisions, it would seem that the trend towards deepening global interdependence is virtually irreversible.

6. This process brings about fundamental change to the organisation of our economies. It creates new opportunities for all people around the globe, including the developing countries. It is inevitable, however, that in the context of this transformation, new pressures of adjustment arise in both the industrialised and the developing world. Greater economic integration may not always bring the anticipated benefits. Furthermore, as economic and financial interdependence intensifies between countries, the risk of contagion tends to increase and can transform the failure of one actor into a systemic crisis. Global governance is key to ensuring that the positive impacts of globalisation are enhanced and its potentially negative effects are adequately balanced and mitigated.

7. The post-world war period has witnessed unprecedented economic growth around the globe. Average living standards have improved across the world, life expectancy has risen, access to health care has improved, infant and child mortality has fallen, school enrolment has increased and the gap between girls and boys in school enrolment is narrowing. However, notwithstanding the remarkable success of the world economy, at the dawn of the 21st century the vicious circle of stagnation and poverty in the poorest countries remains unbroken. Despite a decline in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty since the early 1990s, about one fifth of the world’s population continues to live on US$1 or less per day, and a further quarter lives on less than US$2 a day. Poverty is particularly serious in Africa, where nearly half the population lives on less than US$1 per day.

8. The international community is entering the new millennium with the largest difference ever recorded between rich and poor countries. Whilst some countries experienced strong economic progress, economic growth in others remained moderate, stagnated or even declined. In a large number of poor countries during the last 25-30 years the per capita income did not rise but fell in absolute terms. Today, the per capita income of the richest 20 countries is almost 40 times higher than that of the poorest 20 countries. Forty years ago it was less than 20 times higher. At the same time, the gap between the rich and poor is increasing within many countries and regions. In all countries it is the less skilled who are more likely to be in poverty rather than those with the required education and skills.

9. Growing inequality is both a result of existing poverty trends and an impediment to poverty reduction. Overall, it threatens the cohesiveness of local and regional communities and could ultimately lead to upheaval, political instability and violent conflicts within and between countries and regions. Sharp differences in income levels are also a major reason for migration, which can further dampen the development potential in the country of outward migration. A just and balanced form of global governance may help to prevent such an outcome.

10. Poverty is a multifaceted phenomenon that is best characterised by a lack of freedom, which leads to a lack of access to opportunities: access to sufficient nutrition, to decent clothing and housing, to basic health services and education, to transport and communication, to credit and insurance against natural disaster. The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) notes that some 90 million school-age children in the developing world are denied the chance to go to primary school. The consequences of the lack of access to adequate health services combined with poor disease prevention are particularly serious and severely threat the development perspectives for many countries. By the end of 1999, nearly 34 million people were infected with HIV, 23 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 5 million die annually from the three major communicable diseases: AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

11. Access to markets also plays an important role: The potential gains from liberalising trade for developing countries are estimated to be far greater than today’s volume of official development aid. Only recently have steps been taken by the European Union to open its markets and abolish tariffs and quotas for the least developed countries.

12. It is the prime responsibility of every country to ensure sound economic, social and environmental conditions and to put in place domestic policies aimed at effective poverty reduction. Poor domestic management, overburdened and inefficient administrative systems, outright corruption, and more generally the lack of the rule of law are among the reasons why in the past indigenous development has frequently remained disappointing, and why official development aid has often not fulfilled its expectations.

13. Despite rising GNP levels in the industrialised countries during the 1990s, total official development aid (ODA) has continued to decline. Far from reaching the objective of 0.7 percent of GNP, ODA has decreased over the last decades on average to a mere 0.2 percent. While the growing role of private financial capital flows renders it imperative to ensure sound domestic policy conditions, the multitude of challenges faced by the poorest countries cannot be met without continued support from the international community. Private capital flows, including foreign direct investment, today account for approximately 80 - 90 percent of total resource flows to developing countries. But the lion’s share of these private flows has so far bypassed the poorest countries. According to the World Bank, all of sub-Saharan Africa received only 1,2 percent of international financial flows to developing countries in 1998. These are the countries most vulnerable to diminishing aid budgets.

14. Based on the outcome of various UN conferences, the international community has set itself a number of international goals for global development, such as the objective to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 compared to 1990 levels. Current trends are not encouraging. In a world characterised by rapid population growth in the South, the achievement of these goals can only be realised if underpinned by appropriate international support and a clear commitment to enhanced efforts for poverty reduction both domestically and internationally. Better global governance is necessary to identify priorities and to ensure that the challenge of poverty reduction is addressed effectively through a coherent and comprehensive approach.

15. The interdependence among states in a globalised world has drawn attention to the need to protect the environment for the sake of all nations. Scientific research indicates that our planet is increasingly threatened by a severe degradation of the environment. Whilst in some respects significant progress has been made in industrialised states, the developing states show alarming signs of ecological deterioration rather than advance. On the other hand, recent decades have witnessed growing awareness of these new environmental issues, which are truly global in nature.

16. The global climate is changing as a consequence of the so-called greenhouse effect. The Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol are the first, limited international steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases on a worldwide scale. However, more effort is required and the final success of these endeavours will depend on political will and the successful outcome of future negotiations. The depletion of the ozone layer is another global environmental concern. The Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, together with the Montreal Protocol, has proved to be one of the most successful international environmental agreements. The conservation of biological diversity has also been recognised as a common concern of humanity. So far, however, the Convention on Biological Diversity has not effectively provided protection for endangered species. Biological diversity is linked to the protection of our forests, which are also endangered, but so far lack a coherent framework for international action. Furthermore, desertification and drought have been recognised as problems with a global dimension. Finally, water quality degradation and overexploitation of marine resources threaten international waters. In many regions of the world, fresh drinking water is a scarce resource. A sustainable form of global governance is urgently needed to solve global environmental problems.

17. Worldwide economic integration and new ways of communication have brought people closer to one another. This is clearly a positive development but, in concrete terms, people around the world sometimes fear the possible loss of their national identity through the demise of their culture and its value systems as they are submerged by global homogenisation. However, the maintenance of a culture is dependent on the will and commitment of its people to protect the customs, traditions, language and values against the tide of one global cultural movement. Realistically, any system of global governance can only provide limited help in this respect.

18. Though it should provide a means to defend cultural diversity, global governance itself depends on a fundamental set of values and principles that must be accepted universally. It is clear that international institutions and national governments can support cultures, but global institutions cannot generate them. A realistic form of global governance must be sustained by a fundamental set of values and principles, which people all around the world - from a great variety of cultures and creeds - could accept.

19. It is evident that global problems need global solutions. The present lack of coherence in international economic, social and environmental decision-making is a significant obstacle to more and better global governance. The efficiency of the international institutional family is severely hampered by the lack of coherent mandates and a sometimes-inadequate degree of complementarity and co-operation between individual institutions. A pertinent example became evident during the November 1999 World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle. On the one hand, there were far-reaching decisions taken by governments - in the framework of the twin Bretton Woods institutions (International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank) - to reduce significantly the debt of 41 heavily indebted poor countries. On the other hand, these same governments failed only two months later - through the structure of the WTO - to launch a new trade round which would have attempted to eliminate trade barriers to exports from developing countries, which is a key precondition to any sustainable reduction of poverty. A failure to revive the trade talks in the near future would make a mockery of the debt initiative.

20. In more general terms, the fragmented institutional architecture of the international economic system makes it virtually impossible to address the issue of interdependence in an effective and coherent manner. Calls for closer co-operation between institutions are not a new phenomenon, nor are complaints about overlap and duplication. They can be interpreted as symptoms of the lack of an effective overarching framework to ensure coherence and a complementary division of labour. One reason for this lack of coherence in dealing with global challenges can be found at the domestic level, where different sections of national administrations are not always aware of international engagements, which are the responsibility of other departments. Therefore, if more coherence and convergence is needed at the global level, this is also true at the national level.

21. Global governance does not mean global government in the form of a centralised body that holds exclusive world power and controls global economic flows and information. Rather, it would provide the capacity for effective and legitimate political decision-making at the global level through international institutions and structures of co-operation, co-ordination and perhaps even shared sovereignty. Global governance implies that nation states pay more attention to the international impact of their domestic policies, respect their global obligations and accept the basic principles of multilateralism. International institutions themselves have to learn to co-operate in a more coherent and structured way. Global governance will also require the emergence of public opinion with a more global view, in order to promote, develop and enforce globally agreed behaviour. Such global public opinion will be assisted in its formation by transnational businesses and labour unions, non-governmental organisations and private foundations, and by politicians. The Churches and other world religions will also have to play their role. This development has to be supported by the media, their plurality and independence being essential.

22. The 1991 papal encyclical Centesimus Annus outlines the Catholic Church’s thinking on global governance: “The increasing internationalisation of the economy ought to be accompanied by effective international agencies which will oversee and direct the economy to the common good, something that an individual State, even if it were the most powerful on earth, would not be in a position to do. In order to achieve this result, it is necessary that in evaluating the consequences of their decisions, these agencies always give sufficient support and consideration to peoples and countries which have little weight in the international market, but which are burdened by the most acute and desperate needs, and are thus more dependent on support for their development.” (No. 58)

23. It will not be necessary to build a new system of institutions and organisations from scratch to achieve global governance. The existing international system of organisations can be adapted. Improvement is required, not replacement. Major decision-making will still come from consensus among the nation states, which will continue to be the basic unit, at least for the foreseeable future, as they adapt to new global changes.

24. Global governance is currently characterised at best as an intergovernmental as opposed to a supranational arrangement like the European Union. The latter will perhaps inspire further advances over time. However, even the current intergovernmentalism will not function without a basic set of core values and principles that are universally accepted, as discussed in the next section.

Part II
A set of core values and principles to make global governance work

25. No real progress in global governance is possible without a values system that is jointly embraced and respected. In this regard too, the social teaching of the Church offers its insights “to all men and women of good will”. In the light of these teachings, the reality of the life of the Church and the world unfolds. The Church offers her social teaching as a definition of values and principles for a system of global governance.

26. Human dignity is the core value of Christian social teaching, which must be respected and pursued in all human activity. This value has already been embraced by the full membership of the United Nations. In the preamble of the UN Charter we read: “We, the people of the United Nations, determined ... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person ... have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.” Admittedly, universal respect for human dignity is far from being a global reality, but it is a goal, an orientation for global policies.

27. This innate dignity confers on human beings a set of fundamental rights, as expressed in numerous human rights declarations. Exercising one’s fundamental rights goes together with obligations towards others and the community as a whole, as has been expressed again, for example, in the preamble of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Enjoying one’s fundamental rights and assuming obligations towards others are necessary if we wish to improve the human condition in both material and spiritual ways.

28. Truthfulness is a clear obligation that derives from human dignity. Honesty is essential for the respect of human dignity and produces real consequences for the economy and public life. For instance, there has been a multiplication of tax havens in various parts of the globe over the last decades that have encouraged tax evasion. For the sake of the community it is vital that everyone pays their taxes in full; tax havens encourage cheating, which is unacceptable.

29. Allied to respect for personal human dignity, a sense of responsibility for the global common good is indispensable. In particular we have to face the challenges that are posed by the management of the world economy. Responsibility is a key aspect of Christian anthropology and ethics. Pope Paul VI, in his 1971 Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, put it this way: “To take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and world-wide – is to affirm the duty of man, of every man, to recognise the concrete reality and the value of the freedom of choice that is offered to him to seek to bring about both the good of the city and of the nation and of mankind” (No. 46). At decisive turning points in history, this responsibility has taken on a variety of forms and challenges.

30. The consequences of globalisation, the persistence of poverty, the growth of inequality and the increase of environmental stress on a global scale call for a renewal of the human sense of responsibility in at least three respects:

• The responsibility of each country - large or small - for the world at large;
the responsibility of the world community to put in place an• ethically-grounded new development paradigm;
the responsibility of all• actors in society - and not just governments - to play their part in the direction the world takes to reach the above-mentioned goals and to espouse the idea of world citizenship

31. The responsibility of each country: Due to the intricate relationships between countries in a globalised world, economic events in one country can have an unintentional effect elsewhere. Thus, when Thailand defaulted on its debt payments in 1997, the confidence of global financial markets in developing economies was severely shaken. The Thailand crisis provoked a string of subsequent shocks in Korea, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil, even though they had limited or no real relationship with the Thai economy. This is just one example of the series of financial crises the world experienced during the last decade of the last century. It demonstrates that today, whether a country is large or small, any crisis can become systemic through contagion in the globalised market. Domestic economic policy therefore must, now more than ever, take into account its potential worldwide impact. A duty of universal responsibility is incumbent upon all. All countries and not just the strongest ones are responsible for the stability and quality of world growth. This adds a new dimension to the duties required of every government in the management of its economy.

32. The responsibility of the world community: The world community as a whole must assume responsibility for putting in place a new ethically-based development paradigm, where the international rules for trade and investment, together with the integrity of international monetary and financial management on the one hand and policies to reduce poverty on the other hand, form a two-way relationship. All countries must be encouraged not only to seek balanced books, but also to discover and realise what their global responsibilities imply. This of course includes obligations relating to prudence in domestic policies. In this context the monitoring by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is particularly important. Poverty reduction will not be achieved without sound economic policy; equally, economic policy is not ultimately sustainable if patent inequality and poverty are left unaddressed. The necessary popular support for a stable economy and reform efforts cannot be guaranteed unless the whole population, including the poorest, is able to have its say in the formulation of the policies adopted, and of course to benefit from them. This two-way relationship is part of an emerging and more comprehensive development paradigm in which moral values are an integral part. The new paradigm also tries to take into account different cultural and social models and to follow a more pragmatic country-by-country approach.

33. The responsibility of all actors in society: By suggesting a contribution from all actors, the third aspect of responsibility becomes apparent. To care about the direction that the world community takes is no longer the sole responsibility of governments, politicians and international or regional organisations. Other actors must take part: companies, financial institutions, labour unions and non-governmental organisations, as well as Churches. Every person must play a role in the success of the newly emerging development paradigm and thus become a global citizen. In other words, what is needed is a stronger sense of world citizenship.

34. The growing relevance of non-governmental organisations, which spearheaded many important initiatives in recent years, shows that the concept of world citizenship is becoming more and more a reality. However, NGOs should refine what has always been central to their achievements: patient and non-violent efforts to seek the truth in order to help public opinion become more aware and enlightened. NGOs must above all respect the democratic political process and act accordingly.

35. Many people lack a sense of the universal. It has not been possible for them to integrate the impact of the rapid developments in economics, finance and information. Their sense of the universal has been undone by these changes. They feel cut off from the universal, just as after the Treaty of Versailles in the 1920s Europeans did not have a sense of identification with Europe. The potential of the 21st century will not come to fruition if a new generation of opinion leaders does not deliberately accept the responsibility for giving public opinion a global conscience. A new kind of citizenship must be created, one that is not simply a vague cosmopolitanism, but a genuine citizenship, and rich in the appreciation of our affiliations at all levels: local, national, regional and global.

36. To combat poverty and to deal with widespread corruption, crime, money laundering and threats to the environment, more solidarity is needed. The pursuit of solidarity is essential for effective global governance. When José Angel Gurria, the Finance Minister of Mexico, spoke about poverty at the outset of the Asian crisis as the “ultimate systemic threat”, his reference to the health of the system of global finance echoed the remarks of Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: “Either development becomes shared in common by every part of the world, or it undergoes a process of regression even in zones marked by constant progress” (No. 17). While active solidarity is necessary to help the poorest, it also provides safeguards for the future generations of rich countries. Active solidarity is therefore also in the enlightened self-interest of the more wealthy societies.

37. Solidarity is not only about generosity. It calls for the appropriate participation of every person in society and of every country in the world economy. Even in pragmatic terms, it is now widely recognised that ownership of economic and social policy by public opinion is a necessary condition for their success. The slogan “Globalisation without marginalisation” can be restated as: global justice as participation. Social justice is essentially participation in society. Justice as participation means strengthening a rule-based world system that allows for market participation.

38. Solidarity is central to organising and strengthening the very fabric of a world economy, which is now ‘one’ in a real sense. For industrialised countries, global solidarity does not simply mean sacrifice of the superfluous; it means dealing with vested interests and entrenched power structures, with life-styles and models of consumption. The change needed for genuine human development involves equally radical reforms in the South. In both the North and the South, it is a matter “of orienting the instruments of social organisation according to an adequate notion of the common good in relation to the whole human family” (Centesimus Annus, No. 58).

39. The principle of subsidiarity occupies an important place among the core principles for global governance. Unless we pay due respect to this principle, which Catholic social teaching has long advocated, organising change will be difficult if not impossible. In fact, a major factor behind the resistance to change stems from the fear that national sovereignty might be handed over to anonymous and distant institutions that are not accountable to any democratic control. As Pope John XXIII clearly states in his encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, it is “necessary that the relationship that exists between the world-wide public authority and the public authority of individual nations be governed by the same principle (of subsidiarity). This means that a worldwide public authority must tackle and solve problems of an economic, social, political or cultural character, which are posed by the universal common good. Indeed because of the vastness, complexity and urgency of those problems, the public authorities of the individual states are not in a position to tackle them with any hope of a positive solution. The worldwide public authority is not intended to reduce the sphere of action of the public authority of the individual states, much less to take its place. On the contrary, its purpose is to create, on a world basis, an environment in which the public authorities of each state, its citizens and intermediate associations, can carry out their tasks, fulfil their duties and exercise their rights with greater security” (No. 140-141).

40. The teaching of the Church on subsidiarity is formulated by considering “the way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1884). This suggests that the more we see the need to consolidate or to grant new responsibilities to world bodies, the more it is also necessary to recognize the limits of their contribution. It should be clearly understood that nothing can be accomplished at the global level unless it has been taken up at the grassroots level and supported by the entire institutional chain, in which non-governmental organisations can play an ever-greater role. Responsible citizenship at all levels is a key to the global challenges of the 21st century.

41. Greater coherence, transparency and accountability of international organisations to the public should equally apply to the core principles of global governance. Too often, international institutions are portrayed as unaccountable and technocratic. The truth is that they are in fact responsible and accountable to their member governments. The problem is that they are not perceived as such. One reason for this lack of transparency is that governments have an interest in obfuscating their role in decision-making on the international level. On the one hand, they tend to refer to the imperative logic of the international regime to justify measures that are unpopular at home. On the other hand, they claim the positive achievements for themselves. This contributes to an often-distorted perception of international organisations by the public. As a result, international organisations are often primary targets of public outrage about the deplorable state of global living conditions and the focal point of fears about the consequences of unleashed globalisation. In order to enhance global governance, national governments must voice their unequivocal support for the positions taken in the executive bodies of these institutions.

42. If the above-mentioned values and principles are to become the foundation of a system of global governance, it will be a task that must involve everybody who can contribute, for it can offer a response to the search for a sense of purpose in peoples’ lives, especially among the world’s youth. Vaclav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic, admirably suggested this in September 2000, when he delivered a speech to Ministers of Finance, Central Bank Governors and other bankers from around the world on the occasion of the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Prague. He said: “We often hear about the need to restructure the economies of the developing or the poorer countries and about the wealthier nations being duty-bound to help to accomplish this. If this is done in a sensitive manner against a backdrop of sound knowledge of the specific environment and its unique interest and needs it is certainly a worthy and much needed effort. But I deem it even more important that we should begin to also think about another restructuring - a restructuring of the entire system of values which forms the basis of our civilisation today. This, indeed, is a common task for all. And I would even say that it is of greater urgency for those who are better off in material terms...” There is little chance that this will happen unless it becomes possible to connect these values to something that lies beyond the horizon of immediate personal or group interest. So, how can this new value system be achieved without the recognition of the significance of the spiritual dimension of human existence?

43. Values and principles for global governance must be acceptable to non-believers and believers alike. They are not the exclusive concern of the world's religions. It is noteworthy to observe that the values and principles which Christians have been given by Christian social teaching - human dignity, responsibility, solidarity, global citizenship, justice, participation, subsidiarity, coherence, transparency and accountability - are values and principles shared by many people of good will around the world. They can therefore offer a basis for a more human system of global governance.

Part III
Concrete steps towards global governance

44. One particular characteristic of the current and future global governance system is the involvement of a series of responsible actors instead of one single body. Together these actors form a network that can drive global governance. For this reason, the following proposals are addressed to a number of important actors.

The involvement of Churches and other religious communities, of NGOs and private business, and of states and regional blocs in global governance

45. Churches and other religions can inform themselves and their followers about the global challenges and encourage them to take up their responsibilities. The issues of global governance need to be included in educational and catechetical programmes. Churches could make the theme of global governance an issue for ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. Within the Catholic Church, for example, the network of universities, ‘Justice and Peace’ Commissions and “Semaines sociales” could be a resource for use according to their original mandates for monitoring and analysing developments. They could then respond as necessary with appropriate suggestions and ideas.

46. On the international scene, non-governmental organisations will continue to play an important role. They can echo and develop proposals. Currently they monitor developments at the international and state level and concentrate on one single issue. They have a particular capacity within the general political arena. This leverage permits them to influence the way decisions are formed at international level. However, the principles of transparency and accountability must be part of their operation. It is vital that they respect the role of democratic institutions so that they are a positive influence on society. Perhaps the time is right for them to play a more formal role in international public life; this is an issue for further debate and discussion.

47. Multinational companies have become key actors for global governance. The authors of this report encourage efforts to introduce social responsibility reports, which reflect the “social policy” of a company, and board committees on ethical and social responsibility. The work of these committees could be directed by guidelines for multinational enterprises as drawn up by various institutions. The guidelines published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and reviewed in 2000 by OECD ministers are an internationally agreed “code of conduct” that governments expect domestic companies to apply wherever they operate. The revised guidelines cover all areas of corporate social responsibility: human rights, the rejection of child labour and forced labour, social relations, environmental protection, consumer protection, transparency and disclosure, fight against corruption, transfer of technology, competition and taxation. National contact points in countries adhering to the guidelines (currently the 30 OECD countries and Argentina, Brazil and Chile) are in charge of mediating where specific problems arise. The Secretary General of the United Nations proposed in 1999 a ‘Global Compact’, based on nine key principles, for consent by business partners. This promising approach merits the close attention of the public. The initial success of these and other positive initiatives shows that complying with these obligations is conceived more and more as serving the enlightened self-interest of the private economy. Christians have an imaginative and constructive role to play here to broaden these initiatives in the light of Christian social teaching. It is particularly true with regard to international finance, which has become predominantly private over the last decades. Under these new conditions, private banks and other private financial institutions have been given the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to the production of essential public common goods. This issue would require further reflection and dialogue with professionals and specialists.

48. It is desirable that not just multinationals but also small and medium enterprises commit themselves on a voluntary basis to accepting and promoting basic fundamental rights for their workers, rules for the environment and minimum safety standards for their products. Even if the problem-solving potential of the market economy is not underestimated, an exclusive reliance on "soft-law" like codes of conduct and guidelines is not sufficient. If necessary, governments may have to consider legislation and regulation in these areas.

49. The main responsibility for global governance rests with the nation states, whose sovereignty has to be respected. Each government should express its willingness to contribute to the construction of a system of global governance and decide on the best means to organise itself in respect of this commitment. National parliaments need to be more closely associated with these issues of global governance. Each state, provided it does everything possible to put its own house in order, as suggested in paragraph 12, should be able to count on the solidarity of the international community in order to adapt its institutions to the challenges of growing global interdependence.

50. At the end of the year 2000, 200 regional trade groupings existed worldwide, compared to 50 in 1990. This increase demonstrates that regional agreements between countries have become an important instrument to deal with the challenges of globalisation. They must therefore be included in a system of global governance, but they remain complementary to international institutions with a global outreach; they cannot replace them. Among the various examples of regional agreements, the European Union is the most complete. The sharing of sovereignty in the European Union has reached a degree that is unknown in other places of the world, even though its member states share a long history of violence and war. It should be noted that the agreed policies of the European Union reflect majority or unanimous decisions by currently fifteen member states. For this reason, the EU can represent more effectively a concern for the universal common good. One of the founding fathers of the European Union, Jean Monnet, considered that, “the community itself is only a stage towards forms of organisation for the world of tomorrow”. The European Union therefore bears a particular responsibility for promoting the cause of qualitative global governance. To the authors of this report it seems evident that the European Union and its member states in particular must become champions of reform for global governance, based upon their unique historical experience of fighting wars, of making peace and of co-operating at an unprecedented high level.

Changes at the level of international institutions

51. One of the priorities for change at the global level is the need to review the mandates of existing international organisations within the perspective of the search for the universal common good, and with a view to identifying sources of conflicting objectives, barriers to coherent behaviour and gaps in the institutional architecture. As examples of this review of mandates, this report calls for a new round of multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a strengthening of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the creation of a World Environmental Organisation (WEO). It also outlines a mechanism to provide the basic framework the system requires.

52. It is not necessary to reopen here the discussion about the changes needed in the role, instruments and governance of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. As the Mexican and Asian crises during the 1990s revealed many deficiencies in the international financial system, and as the slow progress in the fight against poverty showed the need to reduce the debt burden of the poorest countries, these institutions have undertaken major reforms during the second half of the 1990s. Several of them are noteworthy:

- the strengthening• of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which increased the amount, speed and breadth of debt relief on the basis of programmes that focused on human development spending, with a significant emphasis on ownership by the people;
- the effort to promote increased transparency and accountability in• the system and the institutions; the importance given to the fight against• corruption and money laundering;
- the stronger supervision of financial• institutions and the emphasis on technical assistance for institution-building in order to assist developing countries in their efforts to adapt their own governance to new world standards.

While much remains to be done and progress must be encouraged, the direction for further progress is clear. Political will is necessary to determine the next steps.

53. One of the most important lacunas in the field of global governance is a new comprehensive trade round at the WTO. The WTO is a common institutional framework providing for trade negotiations amongst its 141 members (at May 31, 2001). Since the last successful round, the Uruguay Round, WTO rules stretch ever further beyond traditional ‘border issues’ like tariffs and quotas. The important agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) and an agreement on agriculture are just two examples of a tendency that makes sense in a globalised economy, although the trend to deal more and more with “internal trade barriers” has added a lot of complexity to the system. However, developing countries have complained about the unbalanced relationship between the results of the negotiations, their application and the ultimate benefits for poor countries. The United States and the European Union in particular are accused by developing countries of doing too little to open their markets. This was an important factor in the breakdown at the last ministerial meeting in Seattle.

54. Another attempt to launch a new trade round, for which the name “Development Round” has been proposed, will be made at the next ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar. The authors of this report wish to express their support for a comprehensive round of multilateral negotiations. While concentrating their remarks on the institutional issues, they would like to mention the importance they attach to several other aspects of this broad negotiation. In its contribution, the European Union should show its willingness to review certain aspects of its own policies – including the Common Agricultural Policy, which is seen by many countries in the rest of the world as questionable from a global perspective. The merits of holding negotiations in a “single undertaking” - which means that no result of the negotiations is finalised until an agreement has been reached on all issues on the agenda - should be reconciled with the need to provide for an “early harvesting” of the initiatives to abolish as soon as possible tariffs on exports from the poorest countries.

55. Rules for the treatment of foreign direct investment are an important issue. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a highly important means for developing countries to achieve far-reaching economic change. However, in 2000 only US$178 billion out of US$1.1 trillion of FDI went to developing countries; and the least developed countries accounted for a meagre US$4.5 billion. This lack of investment is partly due to the lack of a proper legal framework for the investor in poor countries. That is why the need for an international investment regime cannot be disputed. Discussing this issue within the framework of the WTO, and perhaps agreeing on basic principles for the treatment of foreign direct investment, would provide the opportunity to revisit the issue after earlier negotiations in the OECD failed. The large membership of the WTO would also allow an inclusive debate and allow time on the agenda for the needs of developing countries.

56. The need to establish a global competition/anti-trust body that works either under the auspices of the WTO or independently could also be examined in the course of a new round, although progress in this complex area can be expected to be slow. Priority should be given to an agreement on the principles needed for competition rules in the main trading blocs and to support developing countries in their efforts to shape domestic anti-trust legislation and administration.

57. The final agreement of a new trade round should include a reference to the declaration of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on fundamental rights at work, dealing with freedom of association and collective bargaining, non-discrimination, the prohibition of forced labour and extreme cases of child labour. WTO members should pledge their support to strengthening the ILO in order to enable it to promote and monitor more effectively the agreed labour standards.

58. In recent years the WTO has become a cornerstone of the international system. This is mainly due to the sanctions mechanism, which gives the organisation real clout where member states do not follow the rules. However, there is a risk of over-stretching the dispute settlement procedures. Negotiations are a better way of resolving disputes. Whilst fully accepting the need for (and the right to) sustainable development, protectionism through the use of environmental and social standards has to be avoided.

59. The International Labour Organisation is one of the oldest international institutions, with 175 member countries. Its basic aim is to improve working conditions around the world and create the conditions for decent work. In order to reach this objective 183 international conventions have been approved, setting out minimum standards for working conditions and employment. Five conventions concerning the freedom of association and collective bargaining, non-discrimination in the work place, and the prohibition of forced and child labour have been identified as particularly important. The capacity of the ILO to monitor these core labour standards must be strengthened and needs to be recognised by all of its member states.

60. A particular problem concerns the enforcement of the core labour standards. In November 2000, for the first time in its history, the ILO went beyond its usual practice of simply naming offenders against conventions. In the case of the continued use of forced labour by Burma/Myanmar (the military regime is said to use up to 800,000 forced labourers on public work and army projects), it asked its tripartite constituents and other international organisations to review their relations with Burma/Myanmar and to consider taking appropriate measures. So far, however, no state - even among those who expressed support for the idea of trade sanctions - has availed itself of the possibility thus offered. One reason for passivity may be the fact that Burma is also a member of WTO: trade sanctions against Burma/Myanmar, for example on exports of textiles, could be challenged on the basis of WTO–rules with a result that could set a precedent either way. Another possible reason is that the action taken by the ILO has proved quite effective even in the absence of trade sanctions; in leading the authorities firstly to adopt legislative change and secondly to allow, for the first time, an ILO high-level team to assess freely the real situation of forced labour in the country. This development shows that the capacity of the ILO to define and monitor core labour standards can be further reinforced. Migration is another area where the ILO will have to play a more important role in the future, particularly regarding the fate of migrant workers.

61. Given global environmental problems, the question has been raised as to whether the international institutional architecture for the protection of the environment is still adequate. A number of different multilateral agreements have today led to the proliferation of environmental institutions for individual conventions located in different parts of the world. Their mandates are often not clearly delineated, which leads to overlapping responsibilities and unnecessary duplications.

62. This fragmentation highlights the need for a world environment institution to co-ordinate the existing efforts in a more effective and coherent way. Among the international institutions dealing with environmental problems, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has an especially important mandate. UNEP was intended to be a “small secretariat to serve as a focal point for environmental action” and to “co-ordinate environmental programmes within the United Nations system” (UNGA Resolution 2997 (XXVII), 15 December 1972). In practice, its catalytic effect has remained weak due to the lack of means and power needed for such an important and difficult task. There is therefore at the moment no global environmental institution on the international level with the mandate and means to articulate global environmental concerns effectively. This clear institutional weakness of the international environmental pillar warrants urgent attention through the comprehensive reform of UNEP or, preferably, the creation of a new world environment organisation (WEO). A world environment organisation could play an important role in serving as an effective global voice in defence of the environment and in monitoring international environmental developments. It could be empowered to assess progress and deficiencies in implementing international environmental agreements.

63. Furthermore, a WEO could co-ordinate the international efforts to protect the environment and promote coherent and consistent decisions. It should have the mandate and means to articulate environmental concerns in an audible, credible and effective manner. To fulfil its tasks, it would need the right infrastructure in terms of personnel, funding and location. In preparation for negotiations on such a new institution, more political leadership and a broader debate on the responsibilities of all states and the need to respect development priorities will be required. Developing countries need financial and technological assistance in order to be able to develop sustainably and to integrate environmental aspects into their national development strategies. A new dialogue between North and South about the need to protect the environment and the financial and technological preconditions necessary for developing states to respond effectively must be opened.

64. Finally, the relation between environmental and trade policy needs to be addressed. Environmental rules and trade and investment rules have to be developed coherently. A World Environment Organisation with a special mandate and specific knowledge and means could serve as a counterweight to the WTO, and could also allow the WTO to focus on those issues within its own specific mandate.

The keystone: A Global Governance Group (3G)

65. The lack of coherence and the deficit in inter-institutional arbitration between international organisations needs to be confronted. A framework should be created in which leaders, at the highest political level, could define strategies on issues whose multifaceted aspects are currently dealt with in different bodies governed by officials reporting to different departments in their national administrations. The challenge of addressing and deciding on key issues and value choices ultimately falls upon heads of government. Their attention to horizontal issues is essential for enhancing coherence of the global economic system.

66. All countries must be linked in a structure that is both sufficiently restricted and legitimate. The authors of this report therefore recommend complementing the current G7/G8 mechanism and creating a Global Governance Group (3G), made up for instance of the 24 heads of governments that have executive directors on the boards of the IMF and the World Bank, as provided for in their Articles of Agreement. Whilst several other systems of representation could be imagined, this formula for a selection mechanism could be adopted, at least on a temporary basis, as it has the advantage of being based on international treaties, has been tested and is respected at least for dealing with issues of an economic or financial nature. Under this system, all member countries participate in the election of their directors, the five members with the largest quotas appointing their representatives; the other member countries electing the other 19 directors in the framework of agreed regional constituencies. This formula would have the additional merit of providing the Global Governance Group (3G) with full legitimacy to give political guidance to the institutions responsible for key aspects of development issues.

67. The Global Governance Group would hold an annual summit on economic, social and environmental issues and make decisions on the basis of consensus . It would function as a watchdog and assure a minimum of coherence, co-ordination and arbitration among international institutions. Its members would have to tackle major problems and issues. They should be invited to provide responses to key issues on which insufficient progress has been made so far: the strengthening of the ILO in order to enable it to advocate social concerns in the context of globalisation; the construction of an institutional pillar for global environmental risks on the basis of existing international conventions and UNEP; the resolution of pending problems in the field of foreign direct investment and global competition policy. One of the most urgent points they could act on is financial crime and tax evasion at global level through co-ordination of different initiatives against money laundering and tax evasion. They could also devise strategies to combat worldwide corruption through a better implementation of the OECD convention on bribery.

68. At their summits, the heads of government of the Global Governance Group would be joined by the Secretary General of the United Nations and the General Directors of the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ILO and the new World Environment Organisation (WEO). The various directors would together prepare the agenda of the summit. The national governments would be part of the preparatory work through a Sherpa system (a network of personal representatives of the heads of government), similar to that of the G7.


69. This report has developed the argument for a stronger system of global governance by laying a foundation based on a set of core values and principles, by activating a network of actors that could create its framework, by strengthening and rebuilding certain institutional pillars and by putting in place the keystone in form of a Global Governance Group (3G). The system of global governance has to address the two main challenges of our times: to preserve the environment for the generations that will follow us and to offer more and better opportunities to the poorest.


COMECE ad-hoc Group on Global Governance *

Members of the group

Michel Camdessus, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Paris (chairman of the group)
Rudolf Dolzer, Professor for International Law, former Director General in the Office of the Federal Chancellor, Bonn
Michel Hansenne, Member of the European Parliament, former Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Brussels
Onno Ruding, Vice-Chairman of Citibank, President of UNIAPAC and former Dutch Minister of Finance, Brussels
Peter Sutherland, Chairman of BP plc, former European Commissioner and former Director General of GATT and the WTO, London
Paul Trân van Thinh, former chief negotiator of the European Community at the GATT/WTO, Geneva
Simona Beretta, Professor for international economic and financial organisations, Milan
Franz Eckert, Adviser for European Integration, secretariat of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, Vienna
Reinhard Felke, Administrator in the European Commission, Brussels
Flaminia Giovanelli, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Rome
Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, Assistant teacher for International Law, Bonn
Stefan Lunte, Assistant Secretary General of COMECE, Brussels (secretary of the group)
Matthias Meyer, Head of the Public Policy Department in the secretariat of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bonn
Noël Treanor, Secretary General of COMECE, Brussels

* The views expressed in the text are personal and should not be attributed to institutions or companies to whom members of the group are related.

Written by Commission of the (Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community




Notice to the reader
Preface Introduction

Part I
Re-reading the declaration of Robert Schuman:
a contribution to the Christian discernment of the European Union

Part II
Another History of Europe

Part III
How can Catholics contribute to the building of Europe?


The Robert Schuman Declaration

Notice to the reader

The following text was written in response to a request made by the Bishops of the COMECE. It was written by a group of theologians and philosophers from several European countries, under the supervision of Monsignor Hippolyte Simon, Archbishop of Clermont, (France) and the vice-president of the COMECE. This text therefore clearly does not have the status of official church texts. It is not to be confused with authoritative texts such as, for example, the Ecclesia in Europa post-synodal exhortation, or texts published by an Episcopal conference.

This text has no ambition other than to invite its readers to reflect on the development of the European Union, specifically in the years 2004 and 2005, during which time the Union grew to 25 Member States. It was first published in June 2003 with the provisional title 'Let Us Open Our Hearts'. It was then debated and enriched with amendments proposed by various groups of readers. Then, finally, it was altered to take into account the conclusions of the theological Congress organised in April 2004 at Santiago de Compostela by the COMECE.

It is first and foremost addressed to citizens who identify themselves as Catholics, but it can also serve as a basis for dialogue with all Christians of the Union. It constitutes an invitation to them to gauge their responsibility in the process of the development of the European Union. It also targets all those who might want to know what Catholics might think about their responsibility in the evolution of European integration. As such this text is open to all.

It is a text with a pedagogical purpose which merits study and debate in groups or by teams, be they at the heart of a parish, a movement or a university. Readers should not applaud or condemn it in its current state. Rather, readers should use it as a starting point, like a catalyst or an aid to their own work, so that they might reach a personal understanding about their own commitment to the service of an evolving Europe.

This text is translated from the original French version.


Will the Christian heritage of our continent continue to permeate European construction? Can a theological reflection on key moments in European history throw light on this question? What moral obligations arise from the Christian heritage for Catholics in the European Union, indeed for dialogue among themselves, and also with other European citizens and with the institutions of the European Union? What is the impact of the political unification of Europe?

This document addresses these questions. Its publication by the bishop members of COMECE comes at a crucial moment for the Catholic Church, as well as for the European Union. However, this is not the only reason for this text, entitled, 'The Evolution of the European Union and the Responsibility of Catholics', a text, which is in itself something of a new departure.

This document does not dwell on a specific aspect of European politics to which the bishops of COMECE may wish to respond, such as has been the case on other occasions. Nor does it focus upon an interpretation or an evaluation of the evolution of the European Union from a doctrinal perspective. It is more an effort from a particularly Christian (Catholic) perspective to offer an understanding of the European construction which has marked decisively and enduringly the political evolution of our continent for more than five decades. In this, I believe, lies the singular importance of this text.

In the course of the past few years, such a first step towards a theological reading of the political process with its lasting consequences for Europe and the whole world appears to us to be more and more necessary and demanding.

The pleasure and satisfaction that I derived from reading this text leads me to express my gratitude. Firstly, I thank Mgr. Hippolyte Simon, Archbishop of Clermont, (France) and the vice-president of the COMECE. With support from a group of theologians, he was the driving force behind the preparation of this document, also in its earlier version entitled, 'Let Us Open Our Hearts' that was submitted to a wide consultation. In this regard, I wish to equally thank all the groups and all the people who assisted the writing of this new document through their contributions and their commentaries during this consultation.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to cordially in invite all the Catholics of Europe, all the Christians of other Churches, and all interested persons, to join us on this path as we take this step. I am intimately convinced that reading, meditating and discussing this text is a way of serving Europe.

Mgr. Josef Homeyer
President of COMECE and
Bishop-Emeritus of Hildersheim, Germany.


1. The accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004 of ten new Member States, eight of which had been recently liberated from the former Soviet Empire, is an historic event with consequences which may still remain largely unpredictable. However, we can already consider this date as being one of those military milestones as stated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II1, which punctuates the march of the peoples toward unity.

This was an historic event. It marked the end of the division of Europe into two antagonistic camps. For those who remember the anxieties of the Cold War, it seems like a promise of better times to come. For the first time since the War of 1914-18, it opens - at least we hope - all the peoples of Europe to the first real prospect of a lasting peace in their part of the world.

2. In review of the importance and scope of such an event, one would have expected that an explosion of enthusiasm would have been evident in all the countries concerned. Instead we are amazed at the relative moderation of the public reaction that greeted these new accessions. It is true that popular enthusiasm had already been expressed at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. It is also true that the peoples directly concerned had shown their desire to integrate with the European Union by decisively voting during the preceding referenda.

Despite this, in view of the importance of this event and of all the promises it represents, we continue to feel that all the actors and contemporary witnesses of these accessions have not yet become fully aware of all that it involves and represents.

3. This relative moderation can be explained: as it was a peaceful and non-violent event, it is fairly normal for the actors who experience it not to perceive its full importance. Peace is like health. It is a blessing that is perceived only when it is lacking. The rest of the time one hardly thinks of it. No doubt the majority of the citizens of the European Union do not realize the privileges we enjoy. We are in fact the first generation that has not known war on the soil of Western Europe. This privilege is priceless. All citizens of the Union should be invited to step back and stand aloof from their everyday worries in order to try and take stock of everything they owe to the European construction.

4. To deepen the analysis we can make a second observation. We can in fact perceive a difference in the vocabularies generally used to describe this event.

The fifteen countries already integrated readily speak of the enlargement of the European Union. The new members, for their part, speak instead of the re-unification of Europe. This difference in vocabulary is vital and requires all of our attention, because it is much more significant than it might appear.

For the fifteen countries which were already members of the European Union before 1 May 2004, the accession of the ten new States does not in itself constitute a very great upheaval. It forms part of the existing situation. As long as the tragedies that marked the 20th Century are forgotten - and contented people easily forget - the enlargement of the European Union seems self-evident. After all, it may seem to us fairly obvious that cities like Warsaw, Prague, Vilnius or Budapest, are European cities just like London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid or Rome. It is therefore normal that they should in turn become tourist destinations.

Conversely, the new members, and especially those that were recently liberated from Soviet totalitarianism, are more likely to speak of European Reunification. In this way, these eight states wish to signify that they are merely taking their place again, among European nations. They are aware, and this remains engraved in their flesh, that they were separated from the other European nations, brutally and arbitrarily by the Second World War and by the Yalta agreements in 1945. Indeed, and in spite of the promises made by Stalin to proceed with democratic elections in all countries freed from Nazism, as of 1945 these eight countries found themselves prisoners behind what became known as the 'Iron Curtain'. For these countries, the 1 May 2004 (accession) therefore marks the end of a tragedy and an injustice. This date is not just a moment in the development of an organic process: it truly heralds a rupture in their history and the dawn of a new era.

5. There is a precision that needs to be made here which is pertinent to the whole text: In reducing it to just two groups the differences in perceptions of, and reaction to, the same event, we are well aware of simplifying things in the extreme. It is obvious, for instance, that Cyprus and Malta did not react to this event of the 1st May 2004 as did the other new Member States. Their history, even over the duration of the last 50 years, has very little in common with that of the other eight countries. In the same way, we know that among the fifteen countries that were already integrated, there are also big differences, both insofar as their history and sensibilities are concerned. We leave it then to each reader, in accordance with their respective cultures and national histories, to ensure that they bring their own understanding to our text and arguments.

Taking account of all possible nuances, we consider that it is possible to introduce an important observation in respect of these two salient approaches vis-a-vis the historic event of 1 May 2004 which we have highlighted.

6. Far from being purely anecdotal, this difference in vocabulary is profoundly revealing. It is in fact a sign that the same event does not entirely mean the same thing to both groups. This indicates a responsibility of all the citizens of the European Union: if we wish to avoid misunderstandings which would be ruinous in the future, we should, without fail, take the time and resources to understand one another mutually. We will not be able to build a common future if we are unable to find a common memory capable of integrating our fragmented memories. In effect, the first source of misunderstanding between two peoples, or two groups of people, lies in the manner in which each interprets its own history and the history of its relations with the other. It should thus be recognised that these two histories, especially between neighbouring peoples who have known past mutual conflicts, are the inverse reflection of the other. For instance, where there is a victory for one people, it is a defeat for the other. If there is a wish for mutual understanding there must therefore begin to exist a mutual agreement on this crucial point.

Knowledge of the culture and of the history of the other Member States of the Union is therefore a vital duty for all citizens and each nation which makes up this Union. Failing this, it will be impossible to arrive at a truly common consciousness and at a genuine European citizenship. In order to avoid lack of understanding, all citizens of the Union must forthwith examine their memory. It is for all of us a priority duty. It is especially a priority task for all educators. The younger generations must be given the possibility of understanding the history of their origins if we want them to avoid the confrontations and tragedies of the past.

7. The differences which we noted in regard to the event of the 1st May 2004 appears to us, to be profoundly revealing.

We see that the history of the peoples that have latterly become members. constitutes in a way - if we may adopt this photographic expression - the "negative" of that of the peoples which are already integrated. To cite but one example, it is clear that the year 1945 cannot mean the same thing to both. While in Western Europe this year is synonymous with liberation and marks the end of Nazism, it is synonymous with abandonment and tyranny for the peoples of Central Europe.

This simple reminder of what certain new member states experienced is a pressing invitation to look beyond superficial facts and to connect anew with the long history of Europe. We all discover that we all have a point in common: on both sides we inheritors of a tragic history. For Europe's memory is a wounded memory and we will not be able to build our common future without taking stock of all these wounds.

Whereas, with the notion of the enlargement of the Union, there is a risk that we will overlook the past and that we will focus on the problems of the present (in particular on present economic difficulties), the notion of the reunification of Europe invites us to view all of these events in a more profound and thoughtful manner. For 2004, we must go back to the events of the years 1989-91, which saw the disappearance of the Iron Curtain and the ruin of Soviet totalitarianism. Logically we will be then taken back to the 1945-50, and then to the years of the Second World War.

During this process of reflection we will discover that these two recent histories, as divergent as they might seem to have been for the past 60 years, in actual fact take root in the common history of Europe. Above all, we will discover that the conditions which enabled the reunification of Europe are in reality very close to those that permitted the birth of the European Union. In both cases we find a spiritual choice in favour of forgiveness and a determination to overcome violence through dialogue and solidarity. In both of these occurrences, we see a commitment from civil society and from the lifeblood of several nations intent on living in democracy and in peace. It would thus appear that these two victories, different in their chronologies and in their methods, are perhaps more similar than they might initially appear. Consequently, it is on this basis that all the countries of the Union can now rediscover themselves and contemplate their common future.

8. In re-reading what enabled the birth of the Union, as well as its present development, we shall discover that the Union, before being a large market and an institutional construction, was at first the result of a political act in the noblest sense of the term. It is based on the desire for mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. In this sense the creation of the European Union is a spiritual act. And this act is basically common to all of the peoples, whether they became members previously or recently. All of the peoples of Europe in including those who did not participate in the armed conflict between 1939 and 1945, had to suffer in one way or another the barbarity and consequences of Nazism.

This is why it is possible, in this specific sense, to talk about the enlargement of the European Union. As their willingness to join the process initiated in 1950, all the member states, old and new, subscribe to the process as laid out in the foundation agreement. It is this foundation act which must be revisited and understood in its specificity. Only by recognising the eminently spiritual character of this initial act can reconciliation between the peoples of the Union be lasting.

9. From this point on, we can outline a few subjects which can be reflected on by all Catholics who are now citizens of the European Union. As the European Union, at its current stage of development, is based on the confluence of two historic movements charged with great spiritual significance, we are invited to recall the spiritual, moral and cultural conditions that made possible its creation, birth and progressive integration.

In the text, 'Let Us Open Our Hearts', which published in June 2003 we have already invited people to re-read the Declaration of Robert Schuman of 9 May 1950 as a spiritual act, for its potential is still being realised today. This part of the text has been enriched by proposed amendments from groups and readers who sent us their reactions. We now propose this amended and enriched text here in Part 1.

10. On the basis of the suggestions of our readers and in accordance with the ideas set out above, we invite our reader also to consider the turning point of the years 1989-91 as regards to its spiritual meaning and scope. As has been indicated to us by Pope John Paul II himself in his encyclical 'Centesimus Annus', it is necessary to become more clearly acquatinted with the conditions which are, above all, spiritual and moral and which made it possible to exit from Soviet totalitarianism as discussed in Part 2.

11. After this Christian interpretation of the two moments without which the European Union could not have become what it is today, we shall be able to project ourselves towards the future. In fact, we have to ask ourselves what it means for the European Union to be the privileged heir to the Christian tradition because the EU is not just the result of two events and the contexts which we have recalled. The Union is the product of a long historical process. Under what conditions can we speak of a Europe that is "Christian," not only in its origins and its roots, but also in its plans and goals? In other words, how can Catholics, as citizens of the European Union show themselves to be genuine Disciples of Christ and seek to put into practice the Sermon on the Mount?

12. The Christian tradition does not only belong to the past. It cannot be summed up in a patrimony of historical experiences and of political and social wisdom. It continues to nourish the commitment of citizens who explicitly see themselves as believers in Christ. All those who see themselves as disciples of Jesus of Nazareth are to engage themselves in a personal spiritual experience and to put all their talents at the service of their brothers in humanity. (3rd part. A)

The primary mission of the Church, and thus of the particular Churches which are the dioceses is not to undertake a defined political project. However, while pursuing their primary goal, which is to bring the gospel to all creatures, the particular Churches make a significant contribution to life in the countries where they are developing. With this in mind, it is interesting to note how, in thousands of ways the Catholic communities in Europe contribute to the cultural and spiritual vitality of the Union, while respecting the various competences of each of the institutions. They also contribute in a very significant manner, by engaging in a fraternal ecumenical dialogue with other Christian communities.

Together, all the Christian churches and communities are called upon to establish a respectful dialogue with all religious communities in Europe. (3rd part B)

Finally, the Christian tradition has a wealth of social doctrine and experience which can be useful for society as a whole. We should note and examine points of convergence between the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church and the current direction of the European Union? It is of course, not a matter of wishing for confessionalisation of institutions nor to regard political institutions as sacred, but of measuring how the Social Doctrine of the Church can assist both discernment and commitment on the part of the citizens of the EU. We come to see these conclusions on the basis of the Church's experiences over two millennia. They can only nourish the commitment of citizens who see themselves as inheritors of a European history marked by Christianity, but who do not explicitly have faith in Christ. (3rd part C)

13. In offering this research, we are inviting all Catholics to meditate on the invitation of Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclessia In Europa. In paragraph 111. he states "Saying 'Europe' must be equivalent to saying 'openness'."

This call to openness is indeed an effort to which all the citizens of Europe are called, particularly Catholics. Today, this opening of the heart is a question for the consciences of all Catholics in Europe.

Re-Reading the Declaration of Robert Schuman
A contribution to a Christian Discernment of the European Union

14. The process of integration via the EU: Reviewing the process thus far:

Now the European Union has taken an historic step forward and given that it is searching for its future direction, it is important to recall some major steps, particularly the starting impulse. This point of departure remains important for all countries of the Union. It is not important whether they were amongst the founders or whether they joined later: by becoming members they entered into a shared history and a common project.

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs made a proposal to the Federal Republic of Germany and to other interested European states: the formation of a community to serve the cause of peace. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) came into being in 1951, and from this initiative over time grew the EU. This impulse continued to develop through the amendments and institutional improvements which followed. In this way the Community of Six was born. There then followed successive memberships, through a succession of procedures, both of enlarging and deepening:

15. The Robert Schuman Declaration

Even if, after placing it in its historical context the proposal made by Robert Schuman, drawing on the ideas of Jean Monnet, appears like an option tailored to the particular needs of France at the time, it also opened a courageous path intended for the future of the whole of Europe. In effect, it permitted the integration of national interests into a wider entity. In response to this initial proposal, other political leaders, including Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Alcide de Gasperi, and Paul-Henri Spaak adopted a similar attitude and responded positively. In the face of the dramatic situations experienced by their nations, they chose a method which permitted bypassing nationalism.

16. Essential Principles which determined the Founding of the European Union
According Robert Schuman's Declaration, the intuition which gave birth to the process of European integration, rested on a series of conclusions drawn from European history:

"Peace in Europe depends on the ability to surmount the inherited conflicts of many centuries, and to find new ways of co-operating in the wake of this reconciliation.

"The way toward peace would only be possible at the price of a co-operation which could never be forced but which depended on the voluntary participation of every one engaged in it

"European unity would not be attained in one day or the next, but would be the result of a long historical process.

"European unity would be constructed with patience, not in the abstract, but through a certain number of clearly defined measures, both by solidarity in action and by continual sharing of responsibility."

17. Reconciliation, peace liberty, and solidarity:
The Prophetic Scope of a Political Declaration
Inspired by these conclusions, Schuman proposed an Act of great spiritual dimension in his declaration of 9 May 1950, because it was essentially an appeal for mutual forgiveness. In effect, in spite of all the institutional considerations, he expressed a desire both for reconciliation with Germany, a country until then considered an enemy of France, and for a very specific vision of European unity. Setting in train such a process of European integration had to respond to an immense desire for peace in Europe. This desire was really very great after the violence and terror endured during the Second World War. In its opening sentences the Schuman Declaration defined peace as the objective of the proposed project. Then the declaration sought to respect the desire for liberty and self-determination of the people and citizens. This desire had grown under the occupation and repression imposed by the dictators of the 20th century. Also, the authors of this document chose liberty as a basic principle for relations between countries which united to form a community.

Finally, it is endeavoured to react to the great hope of gathering the fruits of solidarity in reconstruction, after the experiences of shared poverty. In order to facilitate in the sharing of material goods, the Schuman declaration foresaw a method of solidarity in the sharing of power. It broke away from a form of politics which sought to achieve the maximum advantage in the short term for victory. These are, in our view, the reasons why the Schuman Declaration had the richness of a spiritual gesture. We can be inspired by it anew, as citizens and believers. An attentive study of this text can without doubt provide us with an important orientation for our current moral and political involvement.

18. World Peace as an Objective:

"World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilisation is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations."

These are the opening words of Robert Schuman's declaration.

At the end of the Second World War, the task assigned to an integrated Europe was to devise a method capable of resolving disagreements, and thus to eliminate forever recourse to armed conflict. This goal has not changed, while the number of member states has grown significantly, and so it is not a type of economic or national egoism that has driven the process of integration, but rather, the will to reject barbarism. For if Europe at last knew peace, she would be able to make her contribution to the peace of the world. The Schuman initiative sought in the first place to prevent Europe, first and foremost France and Germany, from falling again into the rivalries of the past. The new Coal and Steel Community contributed decisively to the creation of a consolidated peace in western Europe, whilst simultaneously promoting the development of the economy and of democracy.

Including security and defence policy in the Constitutional Treaty should not be perceived as a contradiction, but as a necessary consequence. We live in a world where misunderstandings and injustices continue to engender hatred, and where hatred regularly explodes into violence. The struggle against terrorism only reinforces the urgency of this policy of integration.

The prime objective of European integration is peace, but a peace that is not reserved solely for Europe, but for the world. For Christians, the promise of a universal peace is part of the irreversible dynamism of the reconciliation realised by Christ. This promise gives them life and supports their efforts for peace in the world.

19. The Principle of free Accession:
the free engagement of the contracting parties
Realising the objective of peace, at least internally, has become possible because of the desire to respect the freedom and self-determination of the contracting parties, in view of a freely chosen co-operation. Respect for the free engagement in the project can therefore be considered as a basic principle of European integration. The Schuman Declaration speaks of a "Community of production open to all those who wish to participate."

Contrary to the imperialist enterprises which wanted to impose on Europe the supremacy of a single nation, lasting peace could not be based on anything other than an assembly freely ratified by all the parties concerned. The treaties of the European Union are based on a concept of freedom which asks the contracting parties to decide on their engagement in a durable process, and not on a freedom derived from the possibility of doing as one wants at any moment. The Treaties of Rome do not contain exit clauses. And even if a future European constitution should provide for one, it will be necessary to follow a very specific procedure including a negotiated agreement between the Union and the state in question, so that the Member State may be able to withdraw from the Union.

The principle of free accession also illustrates the historical limits of the route chosen for integration. The impetus for the foundation of what later became the EU was given at a moment when weapons had fallen silent. This project was not concerned with the immediate regulation of an armed conflict. It was stimulated by a threat which had disappeared. The contribution that Europe could bring to global peace by choosing voluntary integration could in no way become an 'automatic' process. Equally, the process chosen for European integration, limited to Western Europe during the period of the Cold War, was unable to hinder the utilisation of military force to quell the upheavals of the East Germans, the Hungarians, the Czechoslovakians and the Poles. European powerlessness was manifested just as clearly during the conflict in the Balkans. This crisis showed that the EU did not have the capacity to use force to assist threatened populations. These weak points open our eyes to the fragility that remains.

In spite of everything, the principle of European integration is freedom. This freedom exists with a view to a firm and lasting commitment to a community composed of diverse states and peoples. But this freedom to choose is not ephemeral, for it even transforms the identity of the states and peoples involved. For Christians, the freedom which constitutes their faith is not ephemeral either. It realises itself as a commitment to solidarity.

20. The method of solidarity and sharing sovereignty
The impulse for the foundation of Europe was given with the aim of instituting "a real solidarity." Solidarity here means the achievement of a real unity, in respect for the common good, based on the equality of partners. Moreover, the Catholic Church finds the source of solidarity as regards this unity at the very heart of her faith. Solidarity must therefore not be thought of as a unilateral condescension on the part of the rich towards the poor.

In the particular context of its time, the Schuman Declaration spoke of a solidarity:

- which was not limited by national frontiers, and which indicated to the European states a possible way of overcoming national blockages;

- which should have consequences for improving the living conditions of workers in all the states concerned;

- which should extend beyond the individual contracting parties and which should take into account the duty of solidarity of Europe towards other peoples.

The historical novelty resided in the creation of common institutions, particularly the High Authority, which was later transformed and became the European Commission, as well as in the controlling power conferred on the European Court of Justice. These institutions make it possible to concretely go beyond national powers, in a manner both new and nonetheless real, while st the same time guaranteeing a minimum level of participation for the smallest and weakest states.

These institutions do not rely in the first place on force, but on solidarity which recognises an equal right of existence for the small as much as for the large nations.

Solidarity is the method of European integration. It presumes that the big states do not insist on the application of a pure and simple proportionality in the distribution of seats and votes in the institutions, while the smaller states undertake not to block the decision-making process and not to paralyse the Union.

21. Free Accession and Solidarity:
A Conflicting Relationship

When the EU receives numerous Member States, the limits of solidarity as its basic method are displayed when a single country can effectively prevent all the other member states from acting. This situation creates a strained relationship: since no nation should be obliged to act contrary to its will (the principle of free accession), it must nevertheless remain possible to attain the common objective (peace in Europe). The changes currently taking place in the EU will inevitably lead to a re-negotiation of the minimum level of participation. This explains the difficulty of the inter-governmental conference had in finding an agreement on the system of voting in the Council of Ministers when it negotiated the Constitutional Treaty at the end of 2003 and during the first half of 2004.

The same difficulty is found in respect of the economy. Since the collapse of the Soviet system, the market economy has emerged as the principal solution to resolve the problem of the allocation of limited resources. But very often this increases the inequalities between the social strata, and leaves individuals in difficulty, if not in destitution. The market economy therefore needs minimum regulation to ensure its good functioning. On the one hand, this should guarantee competition and avoid monopolies. On the other hand, it should maintain social cohesion and protect the most needy families and individuals. The question is raised of how to find a balance between freedom of enterprise, which has shown its effectiveness in the production of wealth, and common regulations capable of ensuring the common good and solidarity between all citizens.

22. The Method of Solidarity is applicable to the Global Society and to future generations:

Solidarity as a method can be applied to relations between contracting states involved in the process of European integration. However, it should be noted that, from the beginning of European integration, Robert Schuman's declaration not only advocated reducing inequalities between the living standards of industrial workers in the different countries concerned but also enunciated the obligations of Europe towards the African continent. This reference to links between Europe and Africa was mainly the result of a colonial situation, now thankfully behind us. Europe still retains a particular responsibility towards Africa.

However, account must also be taken of solidarity towards future generations as well as the contribution of the EU to the sustainable development of the whole of humanity. In this respect, one particular aspect of this solidarity by the EU with the rest of the world must be stressed: given their common religious roots and culture, and given the decisive engagement of America in the last century, the European Union and the United States of America should work together to build more solidarity in the world. It is a necessity incumbent on these two regions of the world, given the level of development they have reached. Furthermore, the end of the Cold War enables the European Union to establish anew historic links with its neighbouring countries and in accordance with their specificity. However, in saying this, we must not lose sight of the fact that this commitment to build together greater justice and solidarity in the world is, from a Christian point of view, rooted in a more profound hope.

23. How to deploy a conviction rooted in faith in political and historical reality?

The hope that is ours as Christians rests on the profound conviction that our paths, both as individuals and as communities, opens up to us a future resting in the hands of God. This confidence, however, cannot be confused with a naive vision that imagines the future in terms of linear progress. Christians profess the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the heart of their hope in the Kingdom. The will to place oneself at the service of others is not stalled by uncertainties about the success of our efforts at relieving more of the world's suffering. This perspective, for us Christians, shares in the experience of the cross, in the following of Jesus Christ. It is Him whom we revere as the redeemer of all humanity.

The Cross of the risen Lord, is for His disciples the source of a hope which cannot be checked by either human culpability or by human failure. Today we regard the Cross not as a triumphalist sign of a supposedly glorious history of Christendom in Europe, but rather as the symbol which invites us to read the signs of the present time, and to seize the challenges of action and engagement.

"Charity and its works will remain." It is the light of this profound spiritual truth which enables us to discern the "prophetic" scope of the initiative that has given birth to the process of European integration. Peace as the aim, freedom as the principle, and solidarity as the method, constitute this truth, and concretely translate into the register of history. In fact, after fifty years of experience we are able to say that peace has been established in the EU, that freedom is respected and that we have progressed in solidarity.

For many Catholics, European integration has crystallised their hopes for world peace, for democracy, and for international justice. And they actively engage in these aims. Nonetheless, other Catholics have remained or become sceptical about the reality of European integration because we are still far from the initial promises. It is possible that they do not see how solidarity can transcend the nation.

In fact, until the end of the Cold War, Robert Schuman's declaration and the project which it inspired have remained the special concern of political elites in Europe. Citizens did not really begin to feel concerned until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

24. Another Point of View on Shared History
The foregoing remarks have to be nuanced. History is not only the business of states. It is in fact important to note how the diverse parties that comprise western civil society felt effected by the dramatic events that punctuated the years of the Cold War, between 1945 and 1989. Even if governments showed their incapacity for action diverse sections of western public opinion reacted each time one of the peoples of Central Europe was subjected to aggression by

"he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'."

Part Two:

Another History Of Europe

25. At the time that this process of integration was unfolding in Western Europe, the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe were experiencing an altogether different history. The Munich Accords were signed by Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France in 1938, followed by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in 1939 meant that, in effect, Czechoslovakia was left occupied by the Third Reich while Poland was attacked by the Soviets and Germany together. Towards the end of the War, at the summits of Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam, the representatives of the USA, Great Britain and the USSR, sanctioned the split of the post-War world into two spheres of influence, thus placing Central Europe under the 'protectorate' of the Soviet Union. But Stalin did not respect either the letter or the spirit of these accords, since he did not allow free elections to take place as he had promised inside 'his' sphere.

26. The peoples of central Europe did not easily accept the communist system which was imposed upon them by force. Berlin 1953, Budapest 1956, Pozran 1956, Prague 1968, Warsaw 1968, Gdansk and Gdynia 1970, Radom and Ursus 1976, Gdansk, Szcezecin and Jastrzebie 1980, the opposition during martial law in Poland between 1981-1983 - especially the coal mine Wujek - these were the "principal centres of resistance" against communism. The protestations of entire populations, the creation of a democratic opposition in East Germany, in Hungary, in Poland and in Czechoslovakia, the inefficiency of the Communist economic system as well as a number of circumstances on the international scene, meant that the whole system came crashing down. As seen from the outside, this conclusion was facilitated by developments following the Helsinki Accords in 1975.

Even if we can only make here glancing reference to all of these events, it is nonetheless very important to keep them in mind if we want to attain a real common consciousness between all the peoples of what is presently the European Union. The teaching of history - and all of history, with its many complexities - constitutes a precursor to any European citizenry.

27. The events of the decisive year of 1989 were the object of theological interpretation in the encyclical Centesimus Annus which we owe to one of the participants of these events, Pope John Paul II. His analysis can be summarised in three chapters: the rejection of violence and lies, the experience of a concrete solidarity, and the understanding of religion as a message of liberty.

28. A Rejection of violence and lies:

We read in the Encyclical (CA 23) that "Apparently the European order that resulted from the Second World War and that was enshrined by the Yalta Accords could only be upset by another war." It is possible that our memories have already expunged any consciousness of danger and despair that was brought forth by the Cold War. And this could, at any moment, erupt into a burning war. And yet, this system founded on violence and the outright rejection of human rights un ravelled before us, almost without a shot fired. (One must not forget, meanwhile, the conflict in the Balkans or in Chechnya which began after the collapse of Communism, but are not isolated from it). People apparently powerless found a weapon which proved to be more powerful and effective than all military capability. Such is the reason that the events of 1989 carry in them a universal message and one which is very much pertinent when faced with the temptation to employ terror when trying to resolve conflicts.

The essence of the new method aimed at transforming the world: the alternative to war and revolution was the rejection of violence and the choosing of moral intransigence when one had to stand up for human dignity and give testimony to truth. The totalitarian system was condemned from within by its intrinsic contradictions; the peoples freed themselves peacefully largely thanks to "the non-violent action of men who, having always refused to cede to the influence of force, were able to find in each case the most effective way to testify for the truth (CA23). Such testimony sometimes resulted in martyrdom. One need merely to cite the example of Father Jerzy Popieluszko and the motto of his life: "Do not allow yourself to be defeated by evil, defeat evil with good." (Rm 12, 21)

The method of action which was adopted originated in the principle that every man, and even his adversary, has a conscience. This means that man is only capable of staying on the side of evil so long as he is able to justify it to himself as a form of good that he must defend. "This disarmed the adversary - concluded the Pope - since violence always needs to legitimise itself through lies and to give itself the appearance, even if falsely, of defending a right or of responding to a threat from others." (CA 23) This method therefor proved itself effective since these men were able to find a narrow pathway that rose above the choice between the revolt against servitude and the obligation to love one's enemy, "between cowardice that bows to evil and violence that only aggravates it while thinking it is combating it" (CA 25). As such, they were able to find the opening that led to the conscience of their adversaries even as these, at first, did not feel bound by any moral principles.

29. B The Experience of Solidarity

In an era during which the communist powers tended to atomise society and when the official ideology preached the inevitability of the clash of the classes, the word "solidarity" began to make ground in Poland. Civil society, till then split and divided, reconstituted its fabric and its sentiment of community around the person of Pope John Paul II. His first pilgrimage to Poland and his prayer, "calling the Holy Spirit to come forth and to renew the face of Polish lands" gave birth to the worker-driven creation of the independent and autonomous union called "Solidarnosc". It was to become the first worker revolt "behind the Iron Curtain" for which a clear call was made for religious inspiration. As it was, it was important that a legal organisation, independent of the state authorities, finally saw the day for the first time in the Soviet bloc. But it is also important that it was this idea of "Solidarity" that formed the backbone of this union of ten million members.

It received its baptism of fire during the years of the civil oppression. Did this national movement really have as its foundations the feeling of community, which is stronger than all those things which can humanly separate us? The thoughts of the Pope on solidarity were invaluable both as set out in the encyclical 'Sollicitudo Rei Socialis' and advocated in his successive pilgrimages. In Gdansk, in the birthplace of "Solidarnosc," on 12 June 1987, John Paul II repeated: "'Let each one carry the burden of the other' - this concise phrase of the Apostle is the inspiration of social solidarity and of that between all men. Solidarity signifies: one and the other, and if there is a burden, well then it must be taken on together, within the community. So, never one against the other. Never them against us." Here appears the consciousness of an obligation that must be undertaken and that cannot be simply rejected to facilitate escape.

A second element also appears in this idea. It is the feeling of the community to which we belong; a community which ensures that in these travails or this misfortune, the human person does not feel alone. Another person always accompanies and helps me to carry the burden. We could ask ourselves: Why would somebody, of his own volition, take on a burden which is not his own? He could very well not do it, pass by, or even look and then walk on, as in the parable of the Levite and the priest who walked by the injured man; and nobody would have the right to blame him.

If we realise that we must act differently, this is the sign that there exists in the human heart, a compassion that is capable of transcending all frontiers. In this regard, it is significant that Jesus gives us an example - the Samaritan, one who comes from elsewhere. For this reason, our thoughts, profoundly marked by Christianity are simultaneously invited to transcend all borders. In this respect, the attitude of Mother Theresa is, to us, clear enough and if her 'lightning' beautification does not warrant any justification, it is because we have so often heard the parable of the Good Samaritan during our childhood.

Why did the Samaritan stop? The man convulsing on the ground was neither a member of his family, nor of his people, nor of his religious community. Everything separated him from that half-dead man. It was the misery of the man that stopped the Samaritan, a state of misery passed which he could not walk indifferently. His actions do not have any univocal rational explanation. He, someone from the outside and who is utterly a stranger, nonetheless feels compassion when seeing the suffering of others. If we check in the text of the Evangelist for the differences in reaction of the priest and Levite to the reaction of this "stranger" we will find some very simple words that Saint Luke added to the description of this incident. "But a Samaritan .... came near him, saw him and was struck with pity." (Luke 10:33) It was what was missing in the servants of God who were returning from the Temple. And so it is from this emotion and compassion when faced with the misery of the human condition, that solidarity spontaneously is born.

30. C. Religion - A message of liberty

Christian inspiration played a considerable role in the course of the events in Europe in 1989. In the debate that is ongoing today about the public role of religion, it is often presented as a source of potential threat to social peace and to the freedom of men. The experience of Central Europe can offer an alternative view point.

Religion has played an entirely different role in the lives of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe when compared to what it has played on the western side of the continent. In Western Europe there were rigorous attempts to apply the principle that there should only be one religious confession in each state. On the contrary, in Transylvania and Poland, and well before the Reformation existed a highly developed religious pluralism. It was one of the manifestations of cultural pluralism. In the 16 Century almost every single ethnic group that inhabited the Polish-Lithuanian territory practised its own religion: The Poles and a segment of the Lithuanians were Catholic; the Russians were Orthodox, the Germans were Lutherans and Calvinists, the Armenians were Monophysites, the Jews adhered to Judaism and the Tartars adhered to Islam. In an era during which religious persecution was the order of the day in Western Europe, here reigned, almost everywhere, freedom of religion, a freedom which was legally guaranteed. This freedom was assured by, amongst other things, the Act of the Warsaw Confederation which was adopted on the 28 January 1573. This Act gave the nobility the right to the free choice of religion and at the same time it forbade the State authorities to exercise religious discrimination when awarding functions, land or leases.

The reasons behind this attitude were numerous. If we look at a map of Medieval Europe we will note that the borders that separated the Christian world from the pagan world passed through two States: Spain and Poland. On the Iberian Peninsula Catholicism served the cause of uniting the country against the Moors, whereas in Poland, which struggled in what it perceived to be a moral fight against the Teutonic Order of Knights, the people benefited equally from the help of the partly heathen Lithuanian people as well as from the Tartars. Tolerance thus became a rational imperative. The Academy of Cracow formulated, one hundred years before the school of Salamanca, the elements pertaining to the theory on the rights of nations which was presented at the Council of Constance in 1417 by the rector of the Academy, Paulus Vladimiri. The essence of this tradition was very well expressed by Jan Zamojski, hetman and chancellor of the Republic of Poland, when he addressed the Protestants with the following words, "I would sacrifice my hand to see you all converted but I would also use my other hand to help defend you if you were to be persecuted for your religion."

The tradition of a benevolent attitude toward religion can also be found later on. For many nations deprived of their own State, religion was an important part of their collective identity. For these nations, the churches were a place of refuge and were a guarantor of their freedom. "Here, in Jasna Gora, .... we were always in some way free," said John Paul II in 1983. His words expressed the feelings of many people, independently of their vision of the world and of their personal attitude toward religion.

During the years of opposition against the communist system, in certain countries in the region, there was a coming-together between the Church and the workers' movement and it was a movement born of a reaction of an ethical character. "In the crisis of Marxism there is a spontaneous resurgence of the workers' consciousness which demands justice and the dignity of labour, as per the doctrine of the Church" (CA 26). In addition to the social teachings of the Church, the act of turning to the Church was the result of the spiritual emptiness provoked by the official atheism imposed by the political authorities. Atheism was also the source of a considerable crisis in the realm of culture and was also the cause of a feeling of having been left behind, and of having lost track of the meaning of life, that was felt by many a person, especially the young. It is the why the struggle for the defence of labour was spontaneously linked to the struggle for culture and national rights. Whereas, "at the centre of every culture, as can be read in Centesimus Annus, is an attitude that man has evolved in the face of the biggest of all mysteries, the mystery of God. In fact, the cultures of the diverse nations of the world are in many ways confronted with this question about personal existence: when this is eliminated, the culture and moral tenets of the nations fall apart." (CA 24)

31. D. For Hungary and for Europe

In November 1956, even before artillery had fired on his office, the director of the Hungarian press agency sent around the world a distressed telex about the Soviet offensive that was beginning that day in Budapest. The wire ended with the words: "We are dying for Hungary and for Europe." These words expressed the conviction that the defence of national culture in this part of the world is inseparably linked to the struggle for the European system of values. And as Christian inspiration was for many opposition militants the basis of these values and the definitive motive to undertake the sacrifices necessary for their defence, these words enshrined the understanding that one had to sacrifice oneself equally for the Church and Europe.

This little known episode from the Hungarian uprising in Budapest should suffice in helping us to understand how the peoples who have just joined the European Union, already felt that they were an integral part of Europe well before being able to join the Community which was then being constituted in the West.

32. Starting from this simple indication it is possible to foresee the importance that this invitation harbours for all the current citizens of the Union and to re-read their history. Indeed, in proceeding from two separate perceptions, apparently very different of the same event, we have arrived at the discovery of a common root in the long history of Europe.

Needless to say, we are well aware that having focused our attention on only two moments in time, the recent history of Europe could never be reduced to just these. We have favoured them because of their founding influence on the Union in its current configuration. We have also focused on them because they are particularly revealing as to the duty incumbent on all Member States. Indeed the onus is on them to ensure that all their citizens appreciate these moments, one and all. Since the enlargement to 25, the inaugural act that was the Schuman declaration now belongs to all of the Member States. And reciprocally, the democratic resistance to Soviet totalitarianism is now a part of the common heritage of the European Union, just as the resistance to Nazi barbarism.

Just as we declared in paragraph number 5, we can only invite each group of readers to embark on this re-reading in accordance with their own situation.

Once we put ourselves back into this perspective we discover that, beyond our actual differences, we all belong to the same Europe, and that we all share the same history.

The proximity of the difficult and painful events experienced in Europe in the course of the 20th Century calls on us to recognise that our common history is first and foremost, an experience of fragility. Nothing is given once and for all: Not peace, nor freedom, nor solidarity, nor tolerance, nor democracy, nor even faith. If it is to last, a permanent and recurring effort is required. The realisation that what so many generations acquired with so much difficulty might be lost, should help to ensure that we do not, on the one hand, look to our own culture nonchalantly or, on the hand indulge in triumphalism.

Such a consciousness of our common fragility would be particularly necessary to proceed in the re-reading of our European history. For centuries, Europe has been divided between rival nationalities. Wars raged, one after the other. Retrospectively, looking back from where we are now, these wars will seem to have clearly been more and more like civil wars. It will therefore take a considerable amount of humility by each people in order to arrive at this explicit recognition. One will therefore need to undertake a double re-reading of history: the re-reading of history for each individual nation and the re-reading of history for that nation in Europe.

In this searching for the common history of all the Member States of the European Union, there is a common root that will quickly become evident to all : the rooting in the history of Christianity both in its history of development and in its dissension.

For us citizens who today recognise ourselves as Catholics, any re-reading of our history will necessarily also have an ecumenical dimension. We should proceed for our own sakes to what Pope John Paul II calls "the purification of memory." We know that we cannot come and present our offerings to the alter with a clear conscience so long as we know that one of our brothers has something against us. It is therefore here that we first can, as Catholics, contribute to the future of the European Union, working peacefully toward a mutual understanding of a history which is full of conflict and common to us all.

In this context the enlargement of Europe will not appear to have been a one-way gift on behalf of the older members. Instead of merely reflecting firstly and only on the economic efforts which remain to be made to enable the new members to join the standard of living of the older members, we should see ourselves engaged in reciprocal exchanges of a cultural and spiritual nature.

Amongst these exchanges, the second contribution that we can make is to reflect and to make ours the call by Pope John Paul II to consider our debt towards the countries recently freed from the Soviet system. In the encyclical 'Centisimus Annus' he writes: "Assistance from other countries, of Europe specifically, that shared the same history and shares the responsibility, equates to a debt of justice. But it also responds to the interests and general welfare of Europe, since Europe could not live in peace if the various conflicts that arise as a consequence of the past are made worse by a general situation of economic disorder, spiritual dissatisfaction and despair.

Part Three:
How can Catholics contribute to the building of Europe?

33. Today, following the adhesion of ten new Member States, the project that is the European Union must be concretely reinvigorated in line with the spirit that presided at its inception in 1950 and that allowed for the experience of 1989. On the basis of a reflection of these two key moments in the construction of Europe, the following question must be asked: What is the purpose of the Union today? The task of formulating this re-definition does not fall only on a few shoulders. It concerns all the people and all the institutions and organisations of all our various countries. We must, at all costs, overcome the divisions that may have been established between the elites and the whole European citizenry. How to awaken the enthusiasm of our diverse peoples for the cause of Europe and the idea of fraternity between us all? - such is the great challenge that we must meet today.

These matters concern all European citizens. Catholics do not have any "miracle" solutions to propose to help meet such challenges. But they do know themselves to be the inheritors of an ancient tradition and one which particularly marked the European continent. As such, European Catholics, conscious of being full citizens, know also that they have the responsibility of keeping this tradition alive, which expresses itself in several different ways. They must answer, along with all other citizens, the same questions as everyone else. But they can try to do so in an original way and in drawing on their own spiritual resources. The fact that the European Union is spiritually and culturally, for an important part of its history, the inheritor of Christianity does not confer any privilege on those citizens who consider themselves Christian. But this does take away any right they may have to participate in the construction of the future of Europe. Drawing equally from the long memory of the Church and from its present experiences, we would now like to propose several viewpoints for an earnest engagement by Catholics in European society.

We will try to do this in three steps:

- First, seeing how the spiritual experience of believers can provide the foundation for an engagement by conscientious European citizens;

- then in outlining several of the original contributions that the Catholic communities might bring to the vitality of the European Union;

- And finally, in proposing some major lines of the Christian tradition which might also orientate the future of Europe.

34. A. An Ethic for the lives of Christians:
The Beautitudes as Fundamental charter

The assessment of history which we have made in the course of the two previous sections of this text has indicated that the European Union rests on a spiritual base principally comprised of forgiveness, reconciliation, and personal and collective commitment to non-violence. These are attitudes that do not presuppose a commitment to the Christian faith. Reciprocally, and only to our regret, we Christians have not always lived up to our own expectations even though we have identified ourselves as having a belief in Christ. But we should not allow ourselves to be completely cowed by our own shortcomings. We should also recognise that our commitment as citizens is enhanced by virtue of the enriching quality of a living spiritual experience. The will to sustain a concrete commitment in service to those around us, requires strong convictions on our part. Such convictions can only be formed by a constitutive spiritual experience and by a solid education of conscience.

In becoming disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, we have not joined a political party, or an association with a cultural goal. We have become His disciples because we have recognised in Him the Messiah awaited by Israel, the Saviour announced by John the Baptist and the Lord crucified and resurrected as announced to all nations by the Apostles. Christian faith as such calls one to an experience of conversion. We follow in the steps of Christ, so that we may pass, with Him and through Him, form death into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yet the fact of living by following Christ and with the dynamism of the Holy Spirit that he gave to us, does not mean that we are a stateless people. We remain constitutionally citizens of our respective countries or of the countries which have welcomed us. The Christian identity, which is the sacramental order, is at the same time only a civil identity, and as such these are not in contradiction with one another. We do not dream of forming a Christian State within the State. We want to live as conscientious citizens just as we are called upon by Paul the Apostle. But this does not mean that we will be overly complacent citizens: we know the laws of man to be in the service of justice.

IN other words, far from the Christian faith inviting us to scorn the realities of everyday life, it actually commends us to invest ourselves in it as honestly and profoundly as possible. All of Christ's disciples are invited to place themselves in the service of their brothers and sisters in humanity and to direct all their skills to the service of the common good of the community where they live. To this effect, the Parable of the Good Samaritan as well as that of the last judgement are unambiguous: it is in placing ourselves in the service of a suffering humanity that we shall prove that we are truly of Christ.

35. At the very heart of our faith experience, we find an invitation to dialogue with others. This dialogue is not an invitation external to our commitment to faith. It is an intrinsic part of faith, because we discover that we are all part of the same humanity created by God and saved by the irrevocable gift of the return of the Son. For our Christian conscience, there cannot be any contradiction a priori between our faith-based commitment, our will to live n a fraternal dialogue with those who do not share our religious convictions and our concern to contribute to the good of all humanity.

If we want to be consistent with all that we proclaim, we must therefore live out the attitudes and the acts that will reflect the teachings of Christ in our daily lives. We are fully aware, as Paul the Apostle tells us, of carrying a treasure in worthless pottery. Our weakness and our inconsistencies should not serve as excuses for not continuing to carry this message.

For us Christians, the heart of this can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. It is there that Jesus spelled out the Beautitudes. It is a text that clearly sets out what must be the primary concerns of Christians. The Beautitudes are the base and horizon of Christians. It is when they try to live from this base and beneath this horizon, that Christians bring the best contribution to the construction of Europe and the world.

Blessed are the poor in spirit!
Blessed are the gentle!
Blessed are those who mourn!
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for uprightness!
Blessed are the merciful!
Blessed are the pure in heart!
Blessed are the peacemakers!
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness!

Such statements can surely not serve as the basis for a political agenda. But happy are those people whose leaders, magistrates and activists allow themselves to be inspired by these proclamations and who would make the Beautitudes their life charter.

36. B. A Communion of Particular Churches

At the same time as we became disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, we became members of a community: the Catholic Church. This community has a long and rich tradition in Europe. It is rich in every type of holiness, known and anonymous, that God has caused in it over the centuries. It suffers from all the denials that it has also made in the course of this long history. But no more than any one of us can, the Church let itself be crushed by the weight of those faults committed by its members. It thrives on the dynamism of the Holy Spirit which has guided it and it does not have the right to renounce it in proclaiming the message of the Risen One.

It is not the primary mission of the Church to participate, as such, in the advancement of a political model. Its primary mission is to evangelise, which is to say that it must propose faith and announce the Good News to all men. Our thoughts here therefore, do not aim to analyse the directly pastoral options of the Church. But at the same time as it directs its primary mission, the Church brings with it a significant contribution to the unity of all humankind. (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium Cf. No.1)

This is why the involvement of Catholics in the process of the development of the European Union is not limited to the personal commitment of those citizens who identify themselves as Catholics. This commitment is realised in a multitude of ways, through laity movements, and meetings of Catholic organisations, and services offered by the Churches and the diocese.

We will outline only the framework of all the myriad contributions brought forth in European society through the network of dioceses. One need only mention the schools, libraries, universities, chaplaincies and youth movements to perceive all the roles that the Church will play in the education of the Union's future citizens. Similarly, the network of curative and charitable works greatly contributes to the daily lives of our fellow citizens. In promoting the intertwining of these diverse entities and instances, the Church is contributing to the formation of a common consciousness between all its members. It is therefore contributing to the emergence of a European culture and citizenship.

But we must go still further. The Church does not contribute to the vitality of European society only through its educational, cultural, humanitarian and charitable services and works. It also contributes through its sacramental activities. In inviting all Europeans who so wish to have a formative spiritual experience and by permitting them to have a living contact with the Gospel and by organising close knit communities such as parishes and religious organisations and congregations, the Church contributes to the quality of the social fabric and to formation of free and responsible citizens.

One can take this analysis yet further: Christian communities, by their mere existence, have moulded and continue to mark daily life of European society. It offers to all those who would so wish, a style of life which tends to a balance between action and contemplation, and between the duration of commitment and prayer. It also provides for the whole of society a rhythm to which society can breathe, by insisting on the importance of Sunday. With its liturgical calendar, the Church seeks to avoid the determinism of simply submitting to the rhythm of the climactic seasons. In such a way, by identifying the stages of our lives with that of the life of one person, Jesus Christ, it helps to give universal reference points to the whole of humanity.

Finally, the sacraments which mark the major stages of life in terms of our encounter with Christ, give to the various stages of our life a linear orientation that can provide us with hope and help us to escape the cyclical repetition of time.

37. By their ordination the bishops, successors of the Apostles are integrated in the college of Bishops, and are kept in communion by the ministry of the successor of Peter. They must therefore exercise concern for the whole (Roman Catholic) Church, and not simply for the particular Church, the diocese of which they are in charge. To exercise their ministry for Europe, the Catholic bishops created an organ of communion on the 24 March 1971 in Rome: the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE), which has a permanent secretariat in Saint Gall in Switzerland. The Presidents of the 34 Episcopal Conferences come together at each plenary assembly to deal with the pastoral questions common to them all.

There is therefore a difference in the number of conferences involved in the CCEE and those represented in the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE). The CCEE corresponds to the member countries of the Council of Europe, the seat of which is in Strasbourg, whereas the COMECE brings together the Bishops which are delegated by the Episcopal Conferences in those countries which are members of the European Union. But the recommendations set out by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Ecclessia In Europa in June 2003, are addressed to all the episcopal conferences of Europe. Together, they are to seek paths towards an ever deeper communion. It is worth noting that the title of the Papal exhortation itself is addressed, not only to a plurality of particular churches, but to "The Church (which is) in Europe". It is the task therefore, of all these particular churches to enable all of the Catholics in Europe, to develop a consciousness belonging to the unique Church of Christ.

From this point of view, all Catholics in Europe need to discover how to give account together of the hope which is theirs. They need therefore to consider the evolution of European society so that their bearing witness may be accessible in contemporary culture. Pedagogically, there will be a kind of correspondence between the efforts of the Catholics in Europe to better understand the unity of the Church and to the awareness which they will assume of belonging to a continent on the way to political and cultural unification.

38. The Ecumenical Commitment of the Churches

It is impossible to protest against the heritage of Christianity in Europe without recognising at the same time that this heritage is comprised of dramatic instances: those which are tied to the division of the Christian Churches. Indeed, the history of Europe is tied as much to the division of East and West as it is to the divisions and fratricidal wars of the Reformation.

The effort that we must undertake with a view to the "purification of memory" concerns first and foremost the religious history of our continent.

Reciprocally, any process toward a better mutual understanding between Christians will allow for a better understanding between the countries that now make up the European Union. We made recall the commitment made by the Christian churches in Europe during the ecumenical encounters at Bale in 1989, and Graz in 1997. On the 22 April 2001 in Strasbourg these same solemnly signed the Ecumenical Charter. At the moment, they are preparing a further ecumenical encounter which will take place in 2007 in Sibiu, Romania.

While keeping a watchful eye that religion is not instrumentalised by political leaders, any opportunity for ecumenical dialogue can contribute to a better integration of the Member States of the Union, as well as those who are still candidates for (EU) membership.

39. A dialogue to be promoted:

In the same way, all Catholics - both as individuals and as members of the Church - must promote opportunities for dialogue with members of other religions and with those citizens that keep themselves outside any religious conviction or communion.

Even if we can appreciate that it is far easier to set down guidelines than to act on them, we do not want to oppose the dynamism of evangelisation or the unselfish service of the community, as long as one or the other takes place amid mutual respect and within the framework of freedom of religion guaranteed by the State.

On this final point, we must remember that the attitude and doctrine of the Catholic Church have changed over the centuries. In different countries the history and sensibility of Catholics can be very different. This difference can only reinforce the need which we all must share to re-read our respective national histories, as well as our common European history.

Today, we can rejoice that the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican Council II, 'Dignitatis Humanae' clearly affirmed that the Catholic Church fully recognises the right of all persons to a genuine freedom of religion. Such an affirmation allows us to claim our rights under the Charter of Human Rights which was adopted by the European Union under the Treaty of Nice in 2000 and which was integrated into the European Constitution, which is currently undergoing ratification.

In this way, the Catholics of Europe are ever more at liberty to propose to their fellow citizens an impartial dialogue on all matters that pertain to the common good of the Union. If we are capable of recognising and taking responsibility for the dark patches of our history, we can put forward the wisdom which has been acquired over twenty centuries of experience, and which is condensed and called the Social Doctrine of the Church.

40. C. The Social Teaching of the Church as a possible inspiration
for the construction of Europe

It is, of course, impossible here to review every article of the 'Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.' We shall limit ourselves to setting out three of them which we believe to be fundamental from the perspective of the development of the European Union.

- The link to geography and culture, or unity in diversity;

- The inherent distinction between political institutions and religious communities

- The difference in the relationship to history

41. Diversity and Unity: Catholics and the Catholic Church in Europe
are affected in numerous and different ways by European integration

The 25 States that presently compose the EU, correspond to 21 Bishops' Conferences, plus the Archdiocese of Luxembourg. The frontiers of states and the borders of ecclesiastical institutions do not overlap exactly; for example the Irish bishops' Conference includes the Bishops of the Republic of Ireland and those of Northern Ireland; in Great Britain there are two Bishops' Conferences, that of England and Wales, and that of Scotland; the Nordic Bishops' Conference comprises the bishops of the three Scandinavian Member States of the EU as well as Iceland and Norway. With the accession ten new Member States, a further eight new Bishops' Conferences now form part of the territory of the EU. It suffices to look at the map of the EU to measure the diversity of the situation of Catholics, both in terms of their history, and in their current situation.

As Catholic Christians, we are affected in numerous and different ways by the process of integration:

As citizens of the States of Western Europe which have been members of the EU for some time, and as citizens of the States of Central and Eastern Europe which recently joined the EU;

As members of nations characterised by a Catholic majority, and as members of nations in which Catholics represent a minority;

As representatives of generations which, since the Second World War, have lived in parliamentary democracies with legal protection of civil laws and human rights, and as representatives of generations which, since the end of the War, have lived and practiced their Catholic faith under authoritarian or totalitarian regimes;

As members of societies who are to be counted amongst the rich in Europe, and as members of societies who are to be counted amongst the poorest.

We can also bring in divergent interpretations, whether as convinced supporters of European integration via the EU, or as opponents of the specific process of integration, not to mention many who are indifferent.

The multiplicity of situations and the legitimately diverse opinions among Catholics of the EU, goes hand in hand with a strong consciousness of the unity and universality of the Church. The horizons of the Catholic Church are not limited to a single continent. The Church is aware of her universal responsibilities to all humanity. The Church, the Second Vatican Council tells us, is "in Christ, in a manner of speaking, like the sacrament of salvation, that is, by faith, the sign and means by intimate union with God, and of the unity of all humankind." Jesus Christ is the light for all peoples and for all humanity. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, has received the ministry of guarding the unity of the Church. This opening to the universal is expressed both symbolically and concretely, for example, through pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, or Santiago de Compostela.

The enduring concern to maintain the diversity and unity of the Church, is a difficult balance to preserve in the daily life of the Church. However, this is equally the case in the political sphere. This must be a permanent concern from the perspective of integration. It is in this context that the principle of subsidiarity, often recalled by the Church, takes its place. There is at play here a primary characteristic of the Christian tradition to which we wish to draw attention. This principle could become a source of inspiration in regard to European integration in so far as the European institutions are often reproached for a lack of consideration of cultural particularities in the Member States.

42. Catholics in Europe share a common conviction:
The Distinction between Religion and Politics

Catholics in Europe share a common conviction that, although politics is not everything, political action is important for our faith and our faith is important for our political engagement. Catholicism does not involve having a rigid political concept, or adhering to a series of narrow rules. For us, there is no pre-determined form of political community or a "confessional Christian State." Catholics have lived their faith within different political frameworks and have given witness through their lives. Christian faith is not to be identified with any particular political order, but it is possible to identify situations and behaviour contrary to Christian doctrine.

When we have to take decisions, the Common Good of humanity must be our ultimate criterion. At the same time, we must be able to distinguish between different levels of our actions, whilst giving appropriate importance to provisional attitudes. For it is there in the concrete reality of our commitments, that our spiritual fulfillment is realised.

The distinction between "Temporal and Spiritual" which Vatican II clarified in the declaration 'Dignitatis Humanae,' constitutes the second characteristic of the Christian tradition which this document seeks to emphasize. It is not only important to determine the balance of relations between Church and State within the EU. It also concerns associations and citizens in their personal responsibilities. If the Catholic Church is particularly attentive to its own autonomy and concern for its internal organisation, it is because it considers that the state should recognise that it does not have competence in certain areas which are a matter for the conscience of its citizens. This is equally true, be it at the regional, national or European level. According to the principle of subsidiarity, responsibility in these areas belongs to people or to groups of people, and in the last instance, to the well informed conscience.

Contempt for this principle has always carried heavy consequences. Thus the 'disenchantment' that one can currently observe to some extent in the political arena, is perhaps the reaction to excessive hopes vis a vis the state which manifested themselves in both parts of Europe since the Second World War. These expectations were inevitably disappointed because political power cannot take care of everything. It does not have the capacity to respond to all human aspiration.

43. Catholics in Europe share a common conviction:
The Link between the dynamism of Faith and commitment to the World
while awaiting the manifestation of the Kingdom of God

Christian Hope opens a perspective for our thoughts and our political commitment. This hope should be described as 'eschatological', that is to say referring to 'the last things' of humankind, not to be understood in the same sense as various "Messianisms", or political utopias. The theoreticians of contemporary Messianisms paint a picture of the future where the contours could rapidly change, but which is supposed to happen within the horizon of history. Christians put their confidence in the Kingdom of God, which is of another order to that of history, at once really close, and not yet revealed. In their daily conduct they make themselves available for a future, which they know rests in the hands of God. Nevertheless, this opening to the unexpectedness of God, does not leave us without orientation: the overwhelming example of Jesus Christ animates us; reason and experience anchor us in the present; the Beautitudes of the Sermon on the Mount constitute a manifesto of charity. Confidence that our path leads us towards God, inspires our actions. The rejection of political Messianisms and their goals and purposes, and being rooted in an eschatological Hope, constitute a third characteristic of the Christian tradition. This permits us to value that which has already been realised, while still seeking to help and improve our society. But we do not have the illusion of arriving at a closure of history: according to the Christian faith, this remains open to the initiative of God.

44. Like all other citizens of Europe, Catholics do not possess a ready made Plan for the future

The EU is currently living through a process of change, not only because of the accession of new member states, but also with regard to its institutions and its areas of intervention. We are all concerned by this process of profound change.

In the midst of these diverse and overlapping issues, the Catholic Church appears like one actor among many others, even if it is important to underline the prime importance of Christianity for the future of Europe. Europe cannot be inclusive without acknowledging the founding role which Christians have played in her history. Even if today a form of vague agnosticism seems to dominate public debate, the convictions of Christians are still recognised by many as having a role to play, like those of Jews and Muslims, or members of other religious communities.

In turn, in the EU, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other religious communities, like all citizens, are affected by the rules of the Common Market, by monetary policy and the various common policies, as well as all that is related to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In the same way, the negotiation of trade agreements is already a matter of common policy, and the manner of envisaging relations with the poorest nations and with refugees is becoming more and more the subject of common policies. In other respects, one can not forget that not only Christians, but also Jews, Muslims and members of other religious communities often encounter non-Europeans belonging to their particular church or community. As a result, anyone concerned by the ethical orientation of international politics should feel involved in the development of European structures, as well as in the international policy of the EU.

For Christians, the political challenges associated with changes met on the route of European integration have a spiritual dimension. To be a Christian is to be a pilgrim. This call to live as pilgrims offers a particular enlightenment to our responsibilities as politically engaged citizens and actors. Our advance toward the Kingdom of God is inseparable from our commitment to the service of the political community: such a hope opens for us a common future and invites us to decide at each step what is the better way. Practically, it amounts to our defining the path of a Europe characterised by stability, peace, respect for dignity of persons, especially the most vulnerable, that will serve not only its own citizens, but also the whole world.

From this foundation stone and with this perspective, and from within our conscience as Christians, we find a great liberty which paradoxically leads us to choose a style and rhythm of life in communion, since we know that is the by quality of the bonds which we establish now with our fellow men that will be measured the quality of our faithfulness to Christ. This requirement should be a spur for all Christians in Europe without at the same time setting them apart from the other citizens. In this regard, we can make our own the rejoicing which is found throughout the famous Epistle to Diognetus: "The difference between Christians and the rest of mankind is not a matter of nationality, or language, or customs. Christians do not live apart in separate cities of their own, speak any special dialect, nor practice any eccentric way of life. The doctrine which they profess is not the invention of any busy human minds and brains, nor are they, like some, adherents of this or that school of thought. They pass their lives in whatever township - Greek or foreign - each one's lot as determined; and conform to ordinary local usage in their clothing, diet and lifestyle, whilst witnessing to the extraordinary and surely paradoxical laws of their spiritual republic.


45. As attentive as the Catholic Church is to the progress and development of the European Union, it does not forget that its mission stretches well beyond the frontiers of Europe and concerns the entirety of the human family.

With the opening a nunciature to the European institutions on 10 November 1970, the Holy See expressed the significance it attached to this political development, heretofore unprecedented in history. Indeed the European Union does not constitute a state in the strictest sense of the term, but the Holy See wanted to be represented to the EU institutions by a diplomatic representative at the highest level.

Unique though it is, the European Union cannot disregard the rest of the world. The EU is at the service of peace and the development of the peoples of which it is made up, but it is also an intermediary at the behest of peace and development of all the peoples of the planet.

And because it brings together nations, some of which played a major role in colonisation, the European Union in a certain way, consequently inherits a responsibility towards all the peoples who have emancipated themselves from the tutelage of their colonisers. The different politics of partnership, along with the other regional assemblies are, in this respect particularly important.

Furthermore, the European Union also includes two States which are nuclear powers. This then too bestows upon it a particular responsibility at the heart of the international community and at the UN. For all these reasons, and in concluding this investigation as to the responsibility of Catholics for the evolution of the European Union we cannot but refer our readers to the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclessia in Europa'. In No.111 we read the following, "Saying 'Europe' must be equivalent to saying 'openness'." Despite experiences and signs to the contrary, which it has not lacked, European history itself demands this. Europe is really not a closed territory ; it has been built by expanding overseas and meeting other peoples, other cultures, other civilisations. Therefore it needs to be an open and welcoming continent continuing to develop in the current process of globalisation forms of co-operation which are not merely economic but social and cultural as well.

There is one need to which Europe must respond positively if it is to have a truly new face: It cannot and must not lose interest in the rest of the world. On the contrary it must remain fully aware of the fact that other countries, other continents, await its bold initiatives, in order to offer to poorer peoples the means for their growth and social organisation, and to build a more just and fraternal world. To carry out this mission adequately will demand "re-thinking international co-operation in terms of a new culture of solidarity. When seen as a sowing of peace, co-operation cannot be reduced to aid or assistance, especially if given with an eye to the benefits to be received in return for the resources made available. Rather, it must express a concrete and tangible commitment to solidarity which makes the poor the agents of their own development and enables the greatest number of people, in their specific economic and political circumstances, to exercise the creativity which is characteristic of the human person and on which the wealth of nations too is dependent.

9 May 2005

of 9 May 1950

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.

The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. [...]

In this way, there will be realized simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.

The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.

COMECE, May 2005
Written by Commission of the (Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community


Friday, 30 March 2001

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to extend a cordial welcome to each of you who have come to Rome for the spring plenary assembly of the Commission of Episcopates of the European Community. I thank Bishop Josef Homeyer of Hildesheim in particular for his cordial words on your behalf. I also greet the representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of the candidate States of the European Union, and the members of the Executive Board of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, who are taking part in your meeting of study and fellowship. I also extend my thoughts to the priests and lay people who support you generously and competently in your daily mission.

Today's meeting, a sign of the intense and profound communion that binds you to the Successor of Peter, gives me a closer knowledge of your projects and prospects for working with the European Ecclesial Communities. Your Commission intends to treat, from a pastoral perspective, the themes of growing importance related to the responsibilities and activity of the European Union, and to encourage cooperation among the Episcopates in matters of common interest.

2. The process of European integration is progressing, despite some difficulties, and other States are asking to join the Union of the Fifteen. What is being consolidated must not only be a geographical and economic reality for the continent, but must strive above all for a cultural and spiritual understanding forged by the fruitful interaction of many important values and traditions. In a spirit of sharing, the Church continues to make her own specific contribution to this important process of integration. My venerable Predecessors have hailed this process as a sure path to peace and harmony among peoples, seeing it as a faster way to achieve the "European common good".

Many times I myself have suggested the image of a Europe that breathes with both lungs, not only from the religious but also from the cultural and political standpoint. Since the beginning of my Petrine ministry I have constantly stressed that European civilization must be built on recognition of the "value of the human person and his inalienable basic rights, the inviolability of life, freedom and justice, fellowship and solidarity" (cf. Address to the 76th Bergedorf Dialogue on "The Division of Europe and the Possibility of Overcoming This Situation", 17 December 1984; Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII/2 [1984], 1607).

3. I also wished to devote two Special Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops to the Church in Europe, one in 1991 and the other in 1999. Particularly the latter, whose theme was "Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church, Source of Hope for Europe", vigorously stressed that Christianity can make a substantial and decisive contribution of renewal and hope to the European continent, offering with renewed enthusiasm the ever timely message of Christ, the only Redeemer of man.

The Church, "by the power of the risen Lord, is given strength to overcome, in patience and in love, her sorrows and her difficulties, both those that are from within and those that are from without, so that she may reveal in the world faithfully ... the mystery of her Lord" (Lumen gentium, n. 8). With this in mind, you too, dear brothers and sisters, are called to take up the task of reawakening and cultivating in European Christians the commitment to bear witness to the Gospel of hope. To do this, you will need a new missionary season that involves all the members of the Christian people.

Your Commission and the continent's Episcopates are appropriately dedicating themselves to the religious and cultural formation of the faithful and to the ongoing guidance of those responsible for European unification at all levels. The building of a new Europe, in fact, calls for men and women endowed with human wisdom and a clear sense of discernment based on a sound anthropology that is not detached from a personal experience of divine transcendence.

4. In today's world there is sometimes a conviction that man can create on his own the values he needs. Society would often like to delegate the determination of its goals to rational calculation, technology or majority interest. It must be firmly stressed that the dignity of the human person is rooted in the Creator's plan, so that the rights flowing from it are not subject to the arbitrary interventions of the majority, but must be recognized by all and kept at the centre of every social plan and political decision. Only an integral vision of reality, inspired by perennial human values, can help strengthen a community of freedom and solidarity.

Those responsible for governing, for drafting laws and for administering public affairs must constantly look to the human being and his basic requirements. In this area the Church will not fail to make her specific contribution. An expert in humanity, she knows that the first task of any society is to protect the authentic dignity of human beings and the common good, as the Second Vatican Council said: "The common good embraces the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families and organizations to achieve complete and efficacious fulfilment" (Gaudium et spes, n. 74).

5. Dear brothers and sisters, for this effort to be effective, it must be preceded and accompanied by prayer. It is by humbly and confidently turning to God that we can draw the indispensable light and courage to communicate the Gospel of hope and peace to others. Only by setting out from Christ and his message of salvation is it possible to build the civilization of love. May the Virgin Mary, venerated in so many shrines throughout the European continent, sustain you in your apostolic and missionary work.

With these wishes, as I encourage you to continue your praiseworthy service to the European cause, I cordially bless you all.


Fourth Sunday of Easter, 2 May 2004

1. In these days, Europe is reaching another important landmark in its history: 10 new countries are entering the European Union. Ten nations, which by culture and tradition were and felt European, are now to belong to this Union of States.

However, if the unity of the European peoples is to endure, it cannot be merely economic and political. As I had the opportunity to recall during my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in November 1982, if the soul of Europe is still united today, the reason is that it refers to common human and Christian values. The history of the formation of the European Nations keeps abreast with their evangelization. Consequently, despite the spiritual crises that have marked the life of the Continent in our day, its identity would be incomprehensible without Christianity.

2. For this very reason, the Church has made many contributions in recent years to the consolidation of Europe's cultural and spiritual unity, in particular with the Special Synods for Europe held respectively in 1990 and 1999. The vital sap of the Gospel can guarantee Europe a development that is consistent with its identity, in freedom and solidarity, in justice and peace. Only a Europe that does not eliminate but rediscovers its Christian roots, will be able to take up the challenges of the third millennium: peace, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, the safeguarding of creation.

All believers in Christ of the European West and East are required to make their own contribution through open and sincere ecumenical cooperation.

3. As I greet with affection the nations that are being welcomed into the European Union in these days, my thoughts go to the many Shrines, each one of which down the centuries has kept alive devotion to the Virgin Mary. Let us entrust the present and future of the Continent to Our Lady, Mother of Hope, and to the Saints whom we venerate as Patrons of Europe.

This morning in St Peter's Basilica, I ordained 26 new Priests. I renew my cordial greetings to them and to their relatives and friends. May they always be vivid images of the Good Shepherd among the People of God.

Today we are celebrating World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I extend a special thought to all who have set out on the path of formation for the priesthood and the consecrated life; and I invite you to pray that the Church will always have an abundance of holy vocations.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good beginning of this month of May, dedicated especially to Our Lady!


Sunday, 31 October 2004

1. On Friday, 29 October, the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union was signed here in Rome, at the Campidoglio. This was a highly significant moment in building the "new Europe", which we continue to look upon with confidence. It is the most recent stage in a journey that will be long and evermore binding.

2. The Holy See has always favoured the promotion of a united Europe based on those common values that make up its history. Keeping in mind Europe's Christian roots means to take advantage of a spiritual patrimony that remains essential for the future development of the Union.

Therefore, I hope that in the years to come, Christians will continue to carry with them into all sectors of European institutions that "evangelical yeast" that is the pledge of peace and collaboration between all citizens in the shared effort to serve the common good.

3. Let us now prayerfully entrust all peoples of the Continent to Mary, Queen of Europe.

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