Friday, April 29, 2016

A fruitful meeting with Italian students


On the 26th of April, I had the privilege to meet in the European Parliament in Brussels, students from the European University of Rome. The European University of Rome is a private, legally recognized, Catholic University which is part of a big network of universities widespread in many countries throughout the world. The University’s mission is to form in its students independent personalities that will be driven by Christian principles. 

After welcoming the students in the European Parliament, I explained them what my main motivation for my involvement in Politics is: a feeling of responsibility for what is going on in the society and the people, underlining that Christians who wish to participate in public affairs should remember what Jesus taught in Mathew 20:25-28 calling his disciples to be servants to their fellow human beings. 

Then, I outlined my commitment to the protection of human dignity noting that all men are created in the image and likeness of God. Additionally, special reference to the Christian values that inspired the founding fathers of the EU (Schuman, Adenauer, De Gasperi) was made. Schuman for example, based his values on the Catholic social thinking, in which Gods Love for mankind has been based on the “Imago Dei”; the Biblical truth that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. This truth became the foundation of the European values of equality, human dignity, solidarity and tolerance and calls us to shift the focus away from the individual when were are designing our policies. 

Following these introductory remarks, a briefing was given on key European challenges of today (Migration, Trafficking, Bioethics issues, Freedom of Religion or Belief and Economy). Special reference was made to the activities of the European Parliament Working Group on Human Dignity. It is an initiative that has participants coming from different political Groups here in the Parliament (EPP, S&D, ECR, ALDE, EFDD) but also independent participants. Its Steering Committee is Chaired by Bas Belder (ECR) an ECPM MEP and I have the honour of being the Secretary General. 

Finally, I underlined the challenges that the defenders of Christian values have to face as they are often subjected to name calling and discrimination. On the other hand, many faith based organisations or initiatives often resort to methods and expressions that are insulting and not appropriate for Christians. What we need, is a constructive and civilized debate. Closing my presentation, I urged the students to envision a new future for Europe and to become proactive in defending Christian values in their local communities, but also on a European level.

Many of the students expressed their wish to proceed with follow up communication with me and we are in contact for more information on my work as well as to organise more meetings in Brussels or in Rome.

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