Friday, October 18, 2013

Speakers at the Catholic Conference “European Encounters” assaulted by activists

From 11 till 13 October, I participated in the “European Encounters” conference that took place in Brussels. This conference had as main target to equip young Catholic Christians to implement their faith in their daily life and profession. 

On the Friday evening, the opening took place with H.E. Msg. André Joseph Léonard, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Father Nicholas Buttet, founder of “Eucharistein” and Christine Boutin, Founder of the Parti Chrétien-Démocrate and Former Minister of Urban Affairs. 

When Christine Boutin started her speech about the Soul of Europe, suddenly a group topless feminist-gay activists with a big rainbow flag ran in front to the members of the panel and wrapped the flag around Ms. Boutin and kissed her on her head and cheeks. Other members of the group sprayed whipped cream on the faces of the Archbishop and on Father Nicholas. 

Fortunately, people came to remove these protesters from the podium. After a break where the mess was cleaned and the panel members could take a breather, Christine Boutin continued her presentation about the basic European values of solidarity and peace.   

Read here my article

The intolerance against Christians is growing. The Observatory on intolerance and discrimination against Christians registered 169 cases of intolerance against Christians in the EU and 41 examples of national laws with adverse effects on Christians in more than 15 European Countries. I wrote in an earlier article  about my concerns about the growing intolerance against Christians, but a face-to-face experience with this reality was quite confronting.

Ms. Boutin talked about basic values of the EU like tolerance, peace and equality. These values that are promoted by Christian founding fathers like Schuman, Adenauer and De Gaspari. It is interesting that these values seem to be valid only for certain groups in society. Christians in politics and business face more and more intolerance and discrimination. The Christian heritage of Europe has been deleted from the draft European Constitution and is not mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty either. 

If Christians are participating in open debates with Secularists, their concerns are not answered (see also the article earlier on my blog) or it is stated that we reflect the opinion of just an important minority of Christians (see also a case about this in a previous article . This while the biggest part of the population of the European Union calls themselves Christians.

Take for example the Catholic Church; only this denomination already has 1.2 billion adherents (about one-fifth of the world’s population) making it the world’s oldest and largest organization, the world’s second largest international development body (after the United Nations) and the second largest humanitarian organization (after the Red Cross). Moreover, the Catholic Church is active in more than 200 countries with their estimated combined annual budget of around 5 billion dollars.  I am not even mentioning the many relief organizations from other Christian denominations here. Still, the concerns of Christians concerning human dignity and family are not taken seriously and seen as a religious interference in politics.

Not only the important, societal position of the Christians in Europe is neglected, but it seems that there is less and less space for constructive debates on issues as the protection of life and family which are no religious topics but societal topics dealing with our Common Good and the future of our societies.

The Dignitatis Humanae Institute in Rome organized their second conference in June. One of the questions was: “Squeezed between European and National Order, is there room for Christianity”. I believe that only “room” is not enough. I believe that it is time that the importance of Christians in shaping Europe and its role in current Europe should be recognized and taken seriously, even in left-liberal dominated debates. The basic values of Europe are solidarity, peace and equality and this requires respect, and open attitude, listening to each other during debates that are organized in a democratic way. 

These values sprung up from those parts of the world that have been influenced by Christianity, so it seems plausible that these are (derived from) Christian values. The values that social-liberals profess to adhere to are therefore Christian values as well.

My conclusion is that Christianity and Christians are necessary to maintain a civil debate and a true democracy in Europe. Christian involvement is necessary to make this clear and acceptance of Christians in debates is fundamental to maintain the core values of democracy.

Like the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE in Belgrade, 2011 recommended in  its resolution on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians in the OSCE area (articles 12-16):
  • Recommends that a public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians be initiated and that the right of Christians to participate fully in public life be ensured;
  • Recommends, in view of discrimination and intolerance against Christians, that legislation in the participating States, including labour law, equality law, laws on freedom of expression and assembly, and laws related to religious communities and right of conscientious objection be assessed;
  • Encourages the media not to spread prejudices against Christians and to combat negative stereotyping;
  • Encourages Christian churches to continue their participation in public life contributing to the defence of the dignity of all human beings and to freedom and social cohesion.

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