1. We use the language of communion in political discourse concerning the EU and in projecting our sense of ourselves and of what is perceived as the EU’s common purpose. We describe ourselves as a family of nations, we have a neighborhood policy, we are striving toward a deeper and wider consensus on union, we deliberately flag up the values which unite us.
• Current challenges to these assumptions: some areas of EU member states wish to go their own way [Prodigal Son image] (Scotland, Catalunia, Corsica (?)]; we are unsure how to live with our neighbours [Russia, Ukraine, Turkey]; less agreement about common values [Estrela & Lunacek Reports in EP]
2. The European Project was born of a major, tragic break-down in human relations and exposed a dramatic incapacity to live together, the bankruptcy of the diplomatic instruments (treaties, pacts, triple-alliances, even League of Nations) in resolving issues related directly or indirectly in the challenge to live together: Lebensraum, minorities exiled from Father/Mother-country, territory & possessions, issues of European powers’ relationship with their colonial possessions (family solidarity during WW II across the world – Gurkhas, Australians, etc.) Genocide, ethnic cleansing, massive movement of peoples the stories behind the military lines yet fundamental to experience of war.
• Historic origins of the EU was the political resolve of the European peoples to live together in peace and overcome difference on the basis of reconciliation and the pursuit of common interest.
3. Friendship is a fundamental EU value, too often undersold. [I will explore a little, briefly, the phenomenon of friendship]
• This friendship as a social glue is facilitated by: modern communication [social media, TV, mobile telephone]; frequency of contact between politicians/government officials/policy makers/business colleagues/bishops (not forgetting ecumenical friendships); growing political resolve to confront conflict with discussion; movement of peoples (4th EU freedom); Erasmus student exchange programme; peace project application at local levels.
4. Family as Model for Shared Living [Extraordinary Synod in Rome October 2014 as reference source].
• Challenges in families teach us a lot about living together in Europe:
transmission of values across the generations [perennial, yet intensified by pace of social change and impact of science on our way of thinking]; transmission of the Christian faith [catechesis]; individualism; material prosperity as only model of success; shrinking extended family in Western society [in contrast with, e.g. India]; temporary nature of so many relationships [e.g. serial monogamy, short-term contract, mid-life redundancy].