Monday, December 23, 2013

Discussions about the need for a new Christian Paradigm at the ECPM Conference: "The Impact of Christian Thinking: Past, Present and Future"


Europe is still seen as having a Christian heritage that weights heavy on its citizen’s way of thinking and acting. In politics, some decades ago, we could hear great politicians speaking out from their Christian beliefs without fear of being politically incorrect. Their actions were inspired by their faith. They believed that the Christian values were beneficial in the public life not only in private. 

However, in the 21st century the deafening voice is that the Christian values are to be followed in the private life. This ubiquitous view destroys the foundation that created the European Union in the first place and on the 3rd of December ECPM organized a conference in which this issue was approached, entitled “The impact of Christian thinking on European project: Past, Present and Future”. Main aim is to reflect to the origins of the European project and how Christian faith and values played a role at the European founding fathers. In the afternoon session we build further on these examples we ask ourselves if we need a new Christian paradigm it's current politics in Europe. 

Forum 1: The Founding Fathers: "How Christian Inspiration led to Peace and Reconciliation in a War-torn Continent"

MEP's Peter van Dalen and Ewald Spaler have hosted this two sessions event in which prominent speakers such as Dr. Margriet Krijtenburg, Dr. Giuseppe Zorzi, Philippe de Schoutheete, Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos and Étienne Deschamps have shared their views with other MEP's, MP's and politicians. The forum has been organized in collaboration with the Fondazione Trentina Alcide De Gasperi, Schuman Centre for European Studies, the Jean Monet Association, and the Fondation Paul-Henri Spaak. The sessions are supported by both the ECR and the EPP European political groups.

In the first session “The founding fathers: How Christian inspiration led to peace and reconciliation in a war-torn continent”, that was chaired by Leo van Doesburg, External Affairs Manager of the ECPM, Étienne Deschamps from the house of European History introduced the audience to the founding fathers of the European Union. He brought into light the common points shared by these politicians and also the fact that they differed in other points making them strong in all areas. After this introductory speech, the other speakers had a more detailed presentation on one of the founding fathers such as Alcide de Gasperi, presented by Mr Zorzi, Jean Monnet, presented by Mr Ramos, Paul-Henri Spaak, presented by Lord de Schoutheete, and Robert Schuman presented by Mrs Krijtenburg. 

Even though not all of these founders had a Christian identity, their set of beliefs was not contradictory to the Christian values and this made it possible for them to collaborate. Monnet, according to Mr Ramos, believed in a union made by people based on equality and considered that the Christian values are shared by everybody even though not everybody call them Christian. Schuman thought the idea of a shared cultural heritage is what brought people to unite after the world wars and not the fear of other wars. This solidarity we are starting to lose today, said Mrs Krijtenberg. In the questions and answer sessionthe question was discussed if we became not a victim of the vision of the "economic community" if you seehiw financial institutions took advantage of the system, plunging Europe into a crisis and if the Community model has not been replaced too much with a federalistic system.  

Round table: Contemporary Currents: the Need for a New Christian Inspired Paradigm in an Age of Social and Economic Confusion" 

The second part of the conference entitled “Contemporary Currents: the Need for a new Christian Paradigm in an Age of Social and Economic Confusion" concentrated on the active application of the Christian inspiration in today’s politics and society. This session was chaired by Peter Ostman, chairman of the ECPM. 

MEP Sari Essayah addressed the problems all EU nations confront with and that is human trafficking. Several different attempts have been made in the past years to try to prevent this dreadful reality thousands of girls are in every year. Everybody agrees that this is indeed a horrendous crime against humans, women in particular. However, not everybody seems to agree on the way this crime is combated. In some countries prostitution, (which is almost a synonym with human trafficking) is legalized in the hope that the state can have more control over it whilst in other countries the “costumers” of such services are being punished. 

Mrs Essayah drew once more our attention on the fact that the statistics only scratch the surface of the real number of people involved in human trafficking “The statistics are barely revealing the real number of people involved in human trafficking in any form like forced marriages or forced prostitution” she said adding that as Christians we should be implicated in combating it. This involvement does not only include combating the problem but also reforming the society in which such practices are possible.  

Mr Peter Briscoe addressed another issue that is on the EU agenda in
the last years and that is the economic crisis. As a business person, Mr Briscoe appraised on the trade that is going on with the values Europe has. “We cannot let the system lead our values as it has done in the past five years.” Even though the promises of every politician before elections has something to do with a promise of individual wellbeing after the elections, Mr Briscoe drew our attention on the fact that we should not try to get out of the crisis alone because “the individual wellbeing is closely connected to wellbeing of others”.  He made the auditors aware of the fact that there are two kinds of economy: God's economy and the world's economy with their own sets of beliefs. As Christians we should work in God's economy and this means God's constant leading. 

In agreement with Mr Briscoe that our wellbeing is connected to the wellbeing of others, Mr Jonathan Tame presented his view of the world as relationships based world. The human person lives together in a society and in relation to others. This way of thinking “gives a solution to the toxic individualism, gives a way to border our lives at the personal level but also social level” he explained.

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