Faith in Europe’s response to the document “What Future for Europe? An Open Letter of CEC to Churches and Partner Organisations”

The Response of ‘Faith in Europe’ to the Document “What Future for Europe? An Open Letter of CEC to Churches and Partner Organisations”

Sent 9 November 2016

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) open letter was issued only days before the referendum which, by a relatively narrow majority, approved the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU). This response from ‘Faith in Europe’ emerges against that background. The response obviously represents a distinctively British viewpoint, albeit one that raises issues of wider European concern.

‘Faith in Europe’

‘Faith in Europe’ is a national organization that is principally though not exclusively Christian (Islam and Judaism are represented within it). It is concerned for Europe’s well-being and the role of faith communities in shaping its future. Its members and constituent bodies (which include most ‘main-line’ Churches) are generally though not uncritically supportive of moves toward greater European integration. Its core members were greatly dismayed though not wholly surprised by the referendum’s outcome. Nevertheless, we recognize that this bitter experience provides an opportunity for reflection and the learning of lessons having Europe-wide relevance. We trust that CEC will contribute much to such a learning process.

The UK’s referendum

CEC’s recent document obviously identifies the EU’s major achievements as well as significant obstacles impeding the realization of its potential. This response does not cover the same ground. Britain’s referendum, however, offers much specific evidence, of EU-wide relevance, concerning present and possibly future difficulties.

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Christianity as the Soul of Europe

Christianity as the Soul of Europe

The Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
14 July 2016

Note: This is the written text of an illustrated presentation


Europe is constantly at the forefront of the news. There are many within Europe, including the UK, who feel deeply negatively towards what they see as an attempted super-state run by faceless bureaucrats – caricatured as a centralised set of institutions intent on banning lead in organ pipes and making us buy straight bananas. But for many who live outside Europe it appears to be a promised land. For thousands of refugees, Europe seems a paradise, a stronghold of peace, prosperity and civilisation. Those who have lived a long time in Europe seem weary of it. But those who aren’t able to share the alleged European comforts, want to get here at any price to join us. ‘What is it that some have yet no longer want, and for which others yearn so deeply?’

What is Europe? Is it merely a certain geographical land mass and the diverse peoples who happen to live within it? Or is it also a certain project that aims to help those peoples to live together harmoniously and prosperously with a set of shared values? And if we want to be ‘out’ of Europe, is that a statement about our feeling disconnected from the continent or is it saying that we don’t want to participate in certain shared political institutions? And how is Christianity mixed into our history, our identity, our soul? This presentation explores some of the contradictions and challenges of Europe. It begins with a brief tour of the historical sources and origins of modern Europe and reviews the place of Christianity amongst those sources. We consider the triumphs and tragedies of twentieth-century Europe, which provide the immediate context for the modern European Union. And then we look at where Christianity – and particularly I suppose you will expect me to say something about the Anglican Diocese in Europe – stands within Europe today and how Christians might think about Europe as we live with the reality of a vote to ‘leave’ Europe. The presentation focusses to a degree on the East German city of Leipzig, because its built architecture conveniently highlights some of the key historical and Christian themes of our continent.

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