Europe in search for values

Contemporary Europe, more and more divided and troubled by problems such as Brexit or the migration crisis, faces the threat of losing a common identity and centuries of cultural heritage. Is there a chance to find common values for Europe, such diverse, both ethnicaly and politically? What values should become the foundation for the future of Europe? The plenary session closing the 27th Economic Forum in Krynica was attended by Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives, Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, Metropolitan of Cracow, Jacek Karnowski, Chief of the Sieci Weekly, Marek Kuchciński, Speaker of the Polish Sejm, János Latorcai, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary and Archbishop Zbigniew Stankiewicz, Metropolitan of Riga. The conversation was moderated by Jacek Kurski, President of the Management Board of TVP S.A.

 

Jacek Kurskiopened the discussion with a basic questions: what is the condition of the EU today? Is there such a thing as European values?

According to the first debater, Marek Kuchciński, values in Central Europe are in a much better better condition than it appears from media coverages:

I know one thing for sure: the countries of Central Europe are deeply aware of values such as freedom and the need for independence. It seems that in the West these values are not developed to the same extend. We must boldly remind Europe that the European values that apply today have their roots in three groups: Greek philosophy, Roman law and Christianity.

Angelo Farrugia argued for for the values resulting from the dignity of every human being:

We joined the EU at the same time as Poland. When we talk about values, we talk about the value of a human being. Everyone should have the right to enjoy basic rights. I like the French motto of equality, freedom and brotherhood. For Farrugia, a significant current problem of the Union is the financial crisis: the EU made mistakes in the financial crisis. If a remedy is not proposed, then we have a problem.

János Latorcai, in turn, considered the problem of European values in political terms. According to him, liberalism is prevailing at the moment, but it will not easily take over the continent. In the face of excessive liberalism, social opposition trends arise, whose proponents will not accept, for example, new rules on sexuality. Latorcai also pointed out that in Europe there is no political category like European unionists.

Marek Jędraszewski referred to the great message of John Paul II, who said that democracy could change into totalitarianism. He warned against replacing human with an object as the entity who decide what is good and what is bad.

At a certain moment man felt that he could decide who was a man, who was a sub-human and who was a vermin – it was a Goebbels propaganda. A big threat, according to Jędraszewski, is the emergence of this propaganda contemporary incarnations, based on similar priciples. In the Archbishop’s opinion, there is no doubt that the most human dignity should be treated as a priority.

Zbigniew Stankiewicz reminded that the goal of Europe’s fathers, headed by Schuman, was to achieve lasting peace in Europe. Economics was to be a means to this end. Schuman wanted a community of sovereign states based on Christian values. The main contemporary problem, according to Metropolitan Riga, is the wave of unlimited freedom, not based on deeper foundations. This leads to shifting the limits of good and evil. Today, man has become an instance deciding what is good and what is bad – and these are decisions that should not be put to the vote.

Jacek Karnowski pointed out that abstract images are hanging on the walls of the EU corridors and suggested that this could be treated as a symptom of a deliberate reversal from the Christian tradition. According to the editor of Sieci, the Union today is struggling with the greatest crisis in its history and turns its back against Christianity. One of the threats is the use of double standards, for example in a situation where the powerful players decide about what the European interest is and their findings are only presented to the countries of our region. This is how democracy is corrupted. It is extremely important that Central and Eastern Europe does not succumb to bad influences, because it can become, as John Paul II predicted, the second lung of Europe.

Jacek Kurski summed up the voices regarding the Christian heritage of the Union and asked the panellists if they believed Europe would survive without Christianity.

According to Marek Jędraszewski, if Christianity is rejected, the continent will remain, but it will no longer be a Europe of values, which is why the trends such as the removal of Christianity from teaching at the lower socondary level of education are so disturbing.

Our cultural circle – Europeof the Carpathians  has its own history. It shows how one can and should struggle with totalitarianisms that are promoted in the West. The most important thing is to defend the Christian cross.

János Latorcai sees the need to re-evangelize the materialistic Western society.

We must determine what is and what is not a value. The value is what has been verified by history and we want it to remain. Christianity had such a power to survive. Europe is a combined result of philosophy, Judaic culture and the Roman ability to organize. We believe that God created people in his image.

In the last part of the discussion, the debaters referred to the concept of two lungs ofEurope, in which Central and Eastern Europe has the task of caring for values. János Latorcai postulated a joint struggle to find again Christianity’s roots in Europe. He reminded that in the anthem and in the Hungarian constitution the following sentence was written: God bless Hungary. Zbigniew Stankiewicz, in turn, pointed out that in the Latvian constitution, marriage is defined as a relationship only between a woman and a man. Marek Jędraszewski recommended that we live as God lived and do not lose hope even in seemingly impossible situations. Angelo Farrugia emphasized the role of truth, and Marek Kuchciński said that the recipe is to combine bravery with caution. In the last words of the conversation and  the last words of this year’s Economic Forum, Jacek Kurski commented on the session with words about hope and the need for optimism in looking at the future of Europe.