Together for Europe, Press Office – Andrea Fleming •
Church leaders support the network “Together for Europe” on 2 July 2016, by sending personal messages; the Council of Europe and the EU Commission confirm their patronage.
In the course of the last weeks the official acceptance arrived from the Vatican, and also from the Patriarchate in Istanbul, that Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will send a personal video message to the large ecumenical rally of the network “Together for Europe” on 2 July in Munich.
As early as the beginning of September, Fr Heinrich Walter of the Schoenstatt Movement, as the representative of the international steering committee of “Together for Europe”, presented an information brochure to the Pope about the event in Munich during a personal audience, and asked him for a video message. “Shall we record it immediately?” the head of the Catholic Church asked tongue-in-cheek. Now an official confirmation has arrived by phone from the Vatican that the message is being worked on.
In November, Maria Voce, Diego Goller and Gerhard Pross of the international steering committee used the opportunity of a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, to invite him to come to Munich. Since he was not able to attend personally, he promised to send a message, and also confirmed this a few days ago when he met the Focolare of Istanbul.
Both Church leaders value and support the work of the spiritual communities and Movements, and support the initiative, “Together for Europe”, by more than three hundred communities from various Churches and also Free Church communities. Only last Sunday the Pope spontaneously attended an event of the Focolare Movement and the initiative “Earth Day Italy”, and emphasised there: “You are doing good work, you transform dead deserts into living forests.” He entrusted twelve refugees, whom he had taken along with him from Lesbos a week ago, to the Sant’Egidio community, who have an international centre in the Trastevere district in Rome.
Patriarch Bartholomew has on a number of occasions been a guest or host of the Ecumenical meeting of Bishops to which the Focolare Movement regularly invites them, and in this framework had an extensive personal conversation last November on the Island of Halki near Istanbul, with representatives of the international steering committee of “Together for Europe”. In it he expressed his profound appreciation for the commitment of the communities to Europe and Ecumenism.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjǿrn Jagland, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, support the event and have agreed to be the Patrons.
“Five hundred years of separation are enough – unity is possible!” With this slogan the Ecumenical network “Together for Europe” issued an invitation to the next international meeting in the Bavarian capital. The Congress and rally will be attended by representatives of the political field and many Church leaders, among them Cardinal Kurt Koch from Rome, Bishop Otfried July of the Lutheran World Federation, the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan, Serafim Joanta, the Secretary General of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and regional Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. The central objective of this event is to give a clear and public sign of reconciliation and unity among Christians in this time of crisis and inner fragmentation of the continent of Europe.
Rally at the Stachus Square
The organisers have issued an invitation to a large rally at one of the central squares in Munich on 2 July. The stage programme will be organised by the contributions of the leaders of Christian communities from various countries in Europe, by Bishops, young people and a band.
The initiative “Together for Europe” is an international network of more than three hundred Christian movements and communities from all over Europe. It came into being in 1999 and unites Evangelical, Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Christians, as well as members of the Free Churches and new congregations. Seventy communities form the circle of supporters of “Together for Europe”.
Further information about events and the network can be found at www.together4europe.org and www.miteinander-wie-sonst.de
Original: German. Translation: Mary Cole, Manchester, UK