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Conference in Munich, Catholic Academy in Bavaria

on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Pope em. Benedict XVI. 





Europe – Christian?!


Europe is very important to Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict. In 1990 he wrote: "Europe - a word for peace and reconciliation, that is the great and positive thing about the European experience of our epoch." He hoped that the turn of the year 1989 would give new impetus to the idea of Europe. But already at the beginning of the new millennium  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger   was concerned with the question of whether the cultural continent of Europe still had a future. After the collapse of the great ideologies of the past century, he sees the danger of the "self-destruction of European consciousness" and can ask skeptically: "Are Europe's world of values at the end or actually already given up?" -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_more pressing for him is the question of whether the Christian heritage in Europe can gain new formative power and grant Europe a future.

In order to thank the emeritus Pope Benedict on his 90th birthday, it was therefore obvious to make the endangerment and renewal of Europe the subject of a symposium. The suggestion and conception of the Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict Foundation came from the Pope Benedict XVI Institute. and also the Catholic Academy in Bavaria and led to a fruitful cooperation.
Let me outline the concerns and hopes of our emeritus pope even more precisely in a few strokes. His skeptical view of the present is not actually based on the fact that modern Europe is shaped by Christian faith and at the same time by the Enlightenment, but he is convinced that faith and enlightenment can and should enrich and correct each other despite all the tensions. Rather, he sees the danger above all in the fact that tendencies are at work today to limit reason in a radical way to the tangible and feasible reality, so that belief in God and ethos are pushed into the realm of the subjective and private. Christian faith and religions can then no longer be the basis for the  political ethos. That would mean, however, that in renouncing the idea of God, Europe is in danger of destroying not only itself but also the religious cultures of other continents by exporting a “mechanism without ethos”.

However, Pope Benedict remains hopeful that faith will once again develop the reason   lying within it and introduce it into the dialogue with western rationality . And he hopes that the Christians, in the sense of Toynbee, will contribute as a "creative minority" to the renewal of Europe.  He was already convinced at the Second Vatican Council that through a growing unity of the Christians the charisma and persuasive power of the Christian faith can shine anew.

Our symposium unfolds in two dimensions.  On the one hand, it is intended to explore the current situation in Europe in its deeper dangers and opportunities from a threefold perspective: from the perspective of law, literature and politics. On the other hand, it should awaken hope in view of the joint witness of Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Reformation. Pope Benedict has asked me to speak to you on his behalf. Therefore, please see my references to his concerns and hopes as a sign of his interest in our symposium and of his inner connection with us.

Prof. Dr. Stephan Horn SDS

photos: dr Michael Hofman


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