The world has been in crisis management mode for more than a decade: we experienced a global financial crisis and a pandemic. Now we are witnessing what it means having a bloody and ruthless war right on our doorstep. At the same time, the world is changing faster than ever with rapid technological progress yielding both opportunity and challenges. However, not everyone benefits from the progress to the same extent, with many struggling to keep up with the pace. More and more people feel lonely, abandoned and left behind in our societies. Europe must shield its citizens in difficult times of crisis and rapid changes. Times of crisis turn the focus back to the essentials. What connects us Europeans and guides us as our moral compass? As not everything can be explained with facts, only the assessment of facts creates clarity. For such an assessment, values are indispensable. It is up to us to uphold our Christian values, and keep the political idea of Europe alive - a Europe founded on our Christian democratic values.
Christian democracy means making politics according to Christian values. Christian democracy brings people together instead of excluding them. Christian democracy is not a political dogma or an ideology. It is the effort of putting the person at the centre of our political action. As Don Sturzo and the Catholic Social Teaching taught us, man is not a means to an end, but an end in himself. Our commitment to freedom - to giving human beings every chance to fulfil themselves - gives us great responsibility. We are responsible for each other, for our communities. In the words of Pope John Paul II: “committing ourselves to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all responsible for all.” Being a Christian Democrat is about political ideas based on responsibility, personalism, freedom, subsidiarity, and pluralism. This guiding philosophy achieved more concrete policies for Europe than any other did.
It is up to us to uphold our Christian values, and keep the political idea of Europe alive
Without convinced Christian Democrats, the Europe we know would not be what it is today. They built a Europe that works for the people. Six years after the end of the Second World War, De Gasperi, Schuman and Adenauer chose European integration despite all the odds. We built a Single Market that unlocked our potential from coal to cargo ships to data, we have built our success by breaking down the barriers between the peoples of Europe. We did not build just a powerful engine of progress, but we put it at the service of our society. Our social market economy - an invention of Christian Democrats - allows us to run fast without leaving anyone behind. We have built welfare states within Europe based on solidarity and responsibility. We united Europe because it was our best hope for a future based on the values we all share - and we were successful.
These achievements were decisively shaped by values specifically inspired by Catholic social teaching. Faithful Christians and their churches have always been advocates of overcoming social divides and resolving conflicts between countries peacefully. Especially at a time when we see more and more divisive tendencies in Europe - be it between East and West, urban and rural, young and old, globalisation winners and losers - we need value-based institutions, we need lively churches that bring people together. The next years are decisive years for European Christian democracy. We must continue to make tough choices to build a people’s Europe. We must be the voice of reason, of compassion, and of hope. We must not be afraid of secularisation. Europe’s demographic landscape is changing. Nevertheless, we will continue to choose democracy over technocracy, solidarity over egoism, tolerance over hate, and hope over fear. This is the beauty of Christian democracy: building bridges where others see only divisions. When others saw only class struggles, we brought together workers, employers and artisans. When Catholics and Protestants sent children to different schools, we joined forces together - Catholics and Protestants. When the war destroyed our homes, we built a common, European house.
This is our approach to save the political idea of Europe. Christian values hold significance for Christians themselves, but the principles they embody, such as love, compassion, and justice, are valued and embraced by individuals of various religious and philosophical backgrounds. Christian Democracy has never meant to be a catchall party with no identity; it means value-oriented politics that solves people's problems and leadership providing hope and vision. Times are changing and we must change with them. We must shape our European way of life as something to be proud of - as the distinctive character of a Europe that works for the people. By doing so, we must cherish and uphold our values. Without these Christian values, our European way of life would lose its soul; Europe would lose its soul.
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The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 177 Members from all EU Member States
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