Hope for European societies in a globalised worldHope for European societies in a globalised world

I often have the impression that lack of hope and motivation is deeply rooted in people’s feelings, at least in the part of Europe where I live. This seems to be combined with resignation, little vigour and energy, as if fears of all kinds became overwhelming. These fears seem to be linked with the feeling we all have that too many aspects of life are deeply affected by wide-ranging changes over which we have little influence: in the field of economy, social protection and relations, mentalities and shift of values, tensions and conflicts, including the threat of terrorism, climate change. There are also fears about energy and food supply, while the gap between poor and well-off is still widening, even if economic globalisation leads to a certain redistribution of wealth on world level. There are fears about pollution and threats to biodiversity and quality and safety of life, about the more than unreasonable use of non renewable resources without regard for future generations. 

Of course, the situation is not in black and white, but lack of hope is precisely fuelled by the focus we all tend to put on what is going wrong and seems to us worse than before. That is why my hope is that we may have our energy renewed every day by our closeness to Christ, in whom we have been in fact already resurrected in hope, so that we are given the strength to face together today’s challenges with conviction, calm and perseverance.
I hope that we will experience and promote new possibilities:

  • to support those who sincerely wish to strengthen ecumenism and the common Christian witness
  • to contribute to promote democracy, human rights (including religious freedom and social and cultural and environmental rights), rule of law
  • the virtuous circle of sustainable development, in which the social, economic  and environmental elements support and stimulate each other;
  • integrated policies combining immigration and sustainable development in other continents, in particular Africa;
  • efficient fight against poverty and social exclusion;
  • the social and fiscal dimension of the European integration;
  • peace, security and reconciliation efforts, including prevention and non violent conflict resolution combined with an appropriate level of European Security and Defence  Policy in military terms;
  • more efficient and democratic political European Union and Council of Europe Institutions and better synergy effects between them;
  • education to sustaining moral values which grow out of genuine freedom in Christ; gender and intercultural/inter-religious mainstreaming approaches in CEC, in the churches and in the political institutions and society at large;
  • the global interconnectedness of and synergies between all European policies;
  • our common ethical witness to human rights and human dignity in the field of science and technology;
  • bringing Europe nearer to the citizens and inhabitants in their everyday life, including helping churches develop regional witness and activities across national borders.

Equally important is to try and improve the efficiency of CEC’s global commitment through better synergies between its Commissions and, first and foremost, through the implementation of a strong and clear strategic vision of our mission.

I hope success in the implementing such a strategy will have positive effects on the level of eagerness and interest of CEC member churches to support even more CEC’s work and strengthen a kind of virtuous circle characterised by the fact that:

  • churches will be increasingly convinced of the importance of CEC for the implementation of their common goals rather than just for bringing in their particular interests and visions;
  • churches will (re)discover the extent to which CEC is an indispensable tool to help them look into the future with confidence, creativity and realistic boldness, including in the field of evangelisation.

Working with the European Institutions and being witness to the Gospel in society are not two different goals, but complementary ways to be faithful to the calling and mission of the Church. Both need specific gifts and skills and require appropriate initial and ongoing training. Above all both are based on the God given vigour of faith, hope and love for every human being and the whole creation. This happens in the context of our European secular societies, all more or less characterised by a kind of cultural laïcité of dialogue in which churches have their irreplaceable role to play, in humility, tolerance and conviction.

Richard Fischer
Executive Secretary, Church & Society Commission