“Tangible sense of Europeanisation”

CPCE General Secretary congratulates German Protestant Chuch Conference

CPCE General Secretary Bünker congratulates the German Protestant Church Conference on its tangible European spirit
 
In his concluding remarks to the discussion series entitled “Europe”, held last week under the auspices of the German Protestant Church Conference in Hamburg, the General Secretary of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker, insisted that Europe’s populace be told the truth about the continent’s economic and social circumstances. With reference to Ingeborg Bachmann’s famous words, Bünker’s view of the debate surrounding the European institutions and their perceived methodology is that: “Trust cannot prosper where the truth does not abound.”
 
“Europe on the Couch” was the title of the sell-out event at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre addressing the ongoing search for Europe’s true identity. In her opening speech, political scientist Dr. Gesine Schwan voiced her dissatisfaction with the “rather vague” terminology in common use, such as “community of shared values”, as a means of trying to define European identity. Instead, she expressed her belief that one single value needs clearly identifying at Europe’s very heart; and for Dr. Schwan this core characteristic is quite evidently solidarity. Yet she considers that this is also where the most regrettable deficit within Europe lies, deeming lack of solidarity an inevitable result of the radicalisation of the market economy: “In the same spirit as the Sermon on the Mount, we too must actively enter into this debate!”
 
Regarding the role of the churches towards European integration, CPCE General Secretary Bünker believes that the visible demonstration of unity in diversity, just as the Protestant churches can be seen to be practising right now, certainly offers a positive paradigm for the political sphere to follow. It remains the role of the Church to speak out loud and clear as advocates for the poor: “Offloading the fall-out of the crisis onto the shoulders of the poor, who quite blatantly had no part whatsoever in its creation, can in no way be reconciled with Christian ethics!” It is Bünker’s belief that religious communities can demonstrate the ways in which differences can be put to good advantage, with the explicit inclusion of the Islamic religious community in this observation.
 
He also called for the political sphere and its institutions to adopt a new, more honest approach to communication with the general public: “It just can’t be right that we always have to listen to politicians from all camps in the run-up to any elections campaigning to ‘best protect you from Europe!’” In this context the CPCE’s General Secretary also made reference to the special status of 2013 as the official European Year of the Citizen, an effort to encourage widespread public debate of citizens’ genuine wishes and interests in the run-up to the European elections in 2014. “Protestant churches have always spoken up during elections as part of their fundamental engagement with the democratic process, and we will certainly be doing the same again regarding the European elections in 2014.” Bünker expressed his sincere compliments to the German Protestant Church Conference for its “tangible sense of Europeanisation”.
 
Other podium speakers: Sylvie Goulard, MEP, Paris; Dr. Ulrike Guérot, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin. The discussions were chaired by Julia Borries und Dr. Dieter Heidtmann. Musical accompaniment to the event was provided by musicians from Hamburg‘s HipHopAcademy, including a hip-hop version of the European Union Anthem “Ode to Joy”.
 
 
Hamburg, 4th May 2013

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