Towards a Vision of Europe - Reflecting on the past
46. Any thinking about the future of Europe must begin by reflecting
on its past. Europe's history is a history of great cultural and scientific
achievements and of the development of essential human values and spiritual
wisdom and experiences. At the same time, it is a history of endemic violence,
both on our own continent and in the world at large. For many people elsewhere,
this relatively small part of the world called "Europe" does not stand
for the quest for human dignity, freedom and social justice, but for colonial
expansion, slavery, racism, discrimination, economic exploitation, cultural
domination, and ecological irresponsibility.
47. Moreover, two World Wars were started from Europe in this century. Especially
in this year 1989, fifty years after the beginning of World War II, we remember
the death, the suffering, the mourning, the crimes and the destruction of that
48. As Christians, we share in the responsibility for this. Schisms and religious
strife have had a great impact on European history. Many wars have been religious
wars. Millions of men and women have been tortured and killed for their beliefs.
In the great social conflicts, where the quest for justice was at stake, churches
have often been silent. As a consequence of this history and of World War II,
Europe has become a house divided.