"We continue to pin our hopes on Europe!"

Joint statement by the Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Chair of the German Bishops' Conference marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaties

March 23, 2017


"We continue to pin our hopes on Europe!"

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25 March 1957 saw the founding in Rome of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome treaties, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the EKD Council and   Reinhard Cardinal Marx, chair of the German Bishops' Conference issue the following statement:

"The churches in Germany recall how important it was for peace policy that the Rome treaties were signed 60 years ago. Only 12 years after the end of the Second World War, this act laid the foundation for European nations to grow closer together, which has guaranteed peace and prosperity for Europe to this day and made it a symbol to the world of life in freedom.

And yet the success of European integration was by no means a matter of course. At the time, the rejection of the European Defence Community and the European Political Community brought Europe to the brink of failure. The Rome treaties were a reaction to this setback in European integration. The courage to find European solutions and the political will to fight for the common cause - even against resistance and disagreement - are today more of a commitment than ever.

The celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaties should also signal the need to courageously work on advancing European integration.

Europe must draw conclusions from the discord of past years and overcome its current profound crisis. The European Union (EU) is more than the sum of its member states. It must be better equipped to meet the many current challenges and must not allow itself to be driven apart. Closer cooperation is urgently needed in many areas. For example, we need a fair trading policy, solidarity in refugee policy, and a coordinated foreign and security policy. At the same time, the EU must sharpen its social profile and more effectively communicate to citizens that it contributes to improving their lives.

Just as the churches in Europe made an important contribution to overcoming borders in 1989, the churches today wish to bridge internal European rifts. We continue to pin our hopes on Europe! Today's anniversary of the founding of the European Economic Community and the related success story of peace and unity should encourage us as Christians come out vigorously in favour of Europe. We intend to make more of the presence of local congregations and our various ecumenical contacts in Europe in order to support exchanges and highlight our European bonds. Hence we support the increase in church cooperation In Europe and, for example, we support the idea of a European Christian Convention as an ecumenical project. The vast majority of Europeans belong to a religious community, and most of them are Christians. Religions must operate as forces for reconciliation, peace and solidarity. Consequently, as Christian churches we intend to strengthen interreligious dialogue in Europe and thereby enhance our living together in the European Union.

In the spirit of our Christian heritage, to which the signatories of the Rome treaties in 1957 subscribed, we as churches appeal to those in political office to shoulder Europe's special moral responsibility in the world. We are glad that Europe is a place in which people fleeing war and persecution find protection and we advocate for this to remain the case. Even in a time of crisis, Europe must not be sufficient unto itself, but must take care that the whole world can develop in peace and with justice."



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