PASTORAL LETTER OF SLOVAK BISHOPS ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

(15.9.2002)

CONTENT

INTRODUCTION
CHRISTIAN ROOTS OF EUROPE
WHAT THE SOUL IS IN THE BODY, THE CHRISTIANS ARE IN THE WORLD
What the Church Says on “Christians and Society”
Unity of the Religious and the Social Aspects of Life
Christian Laity in Politics
Teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the Common Good
PREMISE OF UNITY – AGREEMENT ON THE BASIC VALUES
Way to an Agreement on Basic Values
Conscience
Freedom
Reason
Moral Law
Natural Law
Morality and Faith
Community
Human Dignity
UNDERSTANDING AND PEACE ARE THE FRUITS OF THE UNITY OF EUROPE
SOME IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES
Subsidiarity
Solidarity
Responsibility in Freedom
Plurality
SEARCHING FOR COMMON VALUES
SLOVAKIA IN THE ENLARGED EUROPAN UNION
NOTES

PASTORAL LETTER OF SLOVAK BISHOPS ON
EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

INTRODUCTION

The human race is called to be one family of God’s sons and daughters. From this point of view, the Church supports and welcomes every manifestation of sincere collaboration and unification of peoples1. The process of the unification of European countries was inspired by the effort of great Christian personalities in the postwar period to create the conditions for securing peace in Europe. Since the foundation of the European Union (EU), there were other, non-Christian influences. After the fall of the totalitarian systems in the Central and Eastern Europe, conditions for a gradual integration of these countries into the EU were created.
And so Slovakia expressed its interest in becoming part of united Europe. It is making a big effort to be prepared from legislative as well as from economic and political point of view. Inhabitants of Slovakia are looking at this process with hopes, but there are also doubts whether their expectations of economic growth, political stability, cultural and spiritual flowering will be fulfilled, since the countries which have been members of the EU for many years are going through difficult times these days. Membership in the Union is a decision that will fundamentally influence the life of our citizens, Catholics included. That is why, we as your spiritual shepherds, feel the need to express our attitude towards European integration, towards the goods and the risk which it brings.
People often ask us how to look at European integration and whether it is right for Slovakia to join it. We carry the moral duty to search for the answer to this question because it is connected not only with questions of law, politics and economy, but also with questions concerning the spiritual and moral side of the life of society.
After a careful investigation of the process of the European integration, we want to share with you some considerations on this topic, which can help you form your attitude from a both human and Christian point of view.

CHRISTIAN ROOTS OF EUROPE

“The deepest principle of unity was brought to Europe by Christianity. This principle has for centuries been strengthened by the Gospel, its idea of humanity, and its contribution to the development of history and countries.”2 Christian faith is one of the pillars on which the old continent is based.
“My biggest preoccupation towards Europe is that it would keep its Christian heritage and that it would make it fruitful. It cannot be forgotten that Europe has its roots in Greco-Roman, but also in Judeo-Christian heritage, which has for centuries been its profound soul. A great majority of what Europe has produced in the spheres of law, art, literature and philosophy is marked by Christianity, and it can be understood and examined only from Christian point of view. Also the way of thinking and feeling, expressing and behaving of European nations was under the Christian influence.”3
Already in 1947 Pope Pius XII called St. Benedict of Nursia the father of the old continent, referring to his historical influence on the formation of Europe during many centuries. Pope Paul VI, in the apostolic letter Pacis nuntius, calls this restorer of life and giver of God’s peace, education and progress the holy patron of Europe and entrusts him with the protection of Europe. Pope John Paul II calculated the contribution of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, missionaries of Great Moravia, so important for the whole of Europe because they brought us the gift of the Gospel,4 that he recognized them as co-patrons of Europe in 1980. At the same time John Paul II entrusted them with the desire for re-unification of the East and the West, since their successful mission took place before the schism in the unity of the Church. In 1999 the Pope added to these saints other three co-patrons of Europe from the second millennium: St. Catharine of Siena, St. Birgitta of Sweden and St. Edith Stein.
We learn from history that a consistently lived Christianity is not only the way to holiness, but also a way to advance and make closer the life of nations. It is proved by the characters of the founders of the united Europe: Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcido De Gasperi5 who, starting from their Christian conviction, asserted the ideal of reconciliation and gradual unification of Europe, shocked by the terrible events of World War II. Spiritual and civic virtues which they brought into political life made them recognized personalities, and, in case of Schuman and De Gasperi the process of beatification has even been started.
More than fifty years have passed since the beginning of the idea of modern unification of Europe. From the original community of six countries the EU grew to fifteen countries. Twelve candidate counties, the Slovak Republic among them, are negotiating the conditions of their admission. An enlarged Union can thus become a common center of freedom for almost 500 million people. The EU has gradually formed, among other things, a common market with the Euro as a common currency, a common foreign and defense policy and forms of collaboration in the fields of interior peace and justice along with the Schengen Treaty.6 The Church examined the positive and negative effects of the integration during the development of the EU, and she encouraged the representatives of the nations in their efforts for mutual understanding. She warned against one-sided orientation of integration only for building the common market.
Market and economic liberties alone cannot keep unity. Europe needs the soul from which spiritual unity could grow and bear fruit. This will be the guarantee of its economic and political unity. Europe needs to draw strength from its spiritual roots. Only a tree with strong and deep roots will bear fruit, the wind will not break it and the sun will not burn it. In this sensitive period, John Paul II calls Christians and all people of good will to offer to Europe the spirit of faith, hope and love; the spirit of truth, freedom, justice and peace.7
Wars, totalitarian regimes, and crimes made in the name of revolutions and ideologies have left irritating wounds which must be healed. There still is an invisible wall after the decades of the visible division of our continent, “it is the wall built on fear and aggression, on lack of understanding for people of different origins, race, color or other religious beliefs. It is the wall of political and economic egoism, the wall of failing sensitivity to the value of the human life and to the dignity of every man.”8 The Holy Father wrote in 1978: “...deeper frontiers than those geographic ones are the borders inside people.”9 Renovation of the spirit of Europe is first of all the task for Christianity, and for us Christians it is a challenge to overcome the borders within ourselves, between people and between nations.
Everyone has a special mission given by God. It is important to find it and to fulfill it. The Holy Father addressed to Slovakia these words: “Slovakia has a special task in creating Europe of the third millennium. Realize it well! It is called to offer its very important contribution to the true progress of the European continent with its traditions and culture, its martyrs and confessors, as well as with the strength of its new generations. Slovakia is called to offer to Europe first of all the gift of its faith in Christ and its devotion to the Virgin Mary.”10 Slovakia must remember this mission also in the process of entering the European Union.

WHAT THE SOUL IS IN THE BODY, THE CHRISTIANS ARE IN THE WORLD

In this sentence an early Christian author characterized the influence of Christians on the society of his own time.11 The Holy Father John Paul II repeatedly reminds us also that united Europe, which is being formed, needs a soul. In his homily at the St. Vojtech Square in Gniezno on June 3, 1997 he said: “There will be no united Europe that is not founded on a unity of the spirit. Europe received this profound basis of unity in past centuries through Christianity, and that base was formed with its Gospel, its understanding of mankind and its contribution to the development of the history of nations... The foundations of the European identity are constructed on Christianity. The actual lack of spiritual unity is caused first of all by the crisis of this Christian self-consciousness...
The wall that grows these days in hearts, the wall that divides Europe, will not be removed without return to the Gospel. It is impossible to create unity without Christ. It is not possible to build this unity while separating ourselves from the roots from which the nations and the cultures of Europe grew, and from the huge wealth of the spiritual culture of the past centuries. How would it be possible to build ‘a common house’ for the whole Europe, if it is not built from bricks of people’s conscience burnt in the fire of the Gospel, connected together by sharing social love which is the fruit of the love of God?”12
It follows from these words that we cannot be only spectators of the processes in Europe, but we are called, together with our brothers and sisters in faith in all countries, to re-call the soul of Europe. That however presumes our own, sincere, deep and permanent change. The Holy Father continues in his homily: “It is necessary to take up the work of evangelization with new effort. Let us help those who have forgotten him and his message to rediscover Christ. That will happen when crowds of faithful witnesses of the Gospel will set out again on the roads of our continent; when works of architecture, literature and art will show in an attractive way to the man of these days the One ‘who is the same yesterday, today and forever’; when in the celebration of liturgy people will see how beautiful it is to glorify God; when they will see in our lives the testimony of Christian mercy, heroic love and holiness...”13

What the Church Says on “Christians and Society”

One part of the endeavor to become more consistent Christians must also be the effort to acquire attitudes informed by the Gospel towards social and political matters.
Because of necessary brevity, we introduce here only some quotations from the documents of the Magisterium of the Church connected with this topic. Our effort should be to receive the Church’s understandings and to assert them in the various areas of our life. European integration is a very difficult process in which a number of interest groups and ways of life are trying to assert themselves. We as Christians and at the same time citizens should know some basic principles of evaluation, so we can enter this process and influence it positively. With the help of these criteria we can distinguish what is good in social, political and cultural activities here and in Europe, and what we must refuse. So we begin with some quotations from the Second Vatican Council, from the Constitution of the Church in the Modern World: “While earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God.”14 That means that Christ will bring us full salvation when he comes for the second time. That is why we cannot expect any paradise on earth that we could build with our own effort, science or politics. We cannot have unrealistic expectations from the European Union. The Union represents a real effort for a better settlement of human society. That will be as successful as far as the inhabitants of the Union will collaborate with God’s grace and act according to the God’s will. But as people always fail also in this, we must count with the fact that along with the effort for a better settlement of the society, there will be lacks, injustice and sufferings that we will have to overcome persistently or to bear patiently.
Other texts of the Council enlighten the tasks of Christians in the society, as well as the relationship between the Church and the political society:
“At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things, and his rights and duties are universal and inviolable. Therefore, there must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a truly human life: such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one's own conscience, to protection of privacy and rightful freedom, even in matters religious. Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person if the disposition of affairs is to be subordinate to the personal realm and not the other way around, as the Lord indicated when He said that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. This social order requires constant improvement It must be founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love; ”15
“By no human law can the personal dignity and liberty of man be so aptly safeguarded as by the Gospel of Christ which has been entrusted to the Church. For this Gospel announces and proclaims the freedom of the sons of God, and repudiates all the bondage which ultimately results from sin. (Cf. Rom. 8:14-17); it has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice, constantly advises that all human talents be employed in God's service and men's, and, finally, commends all to the charity of all (cf. Matt. 22:39).”16
“The Church recognizes that worthy elements are found in today's social movements, especially an evolution toward unity, a process of wholesome socialization and of association in civic and economic realms. The promotion of unity belongs to the innermost nature of the Church, for she is, thanks to her relationship with Christ, a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of the whole human race. Thus she shows the world that an authentic union, social and external, results from a union of minds and hearts, namely from that faith and charity by which her own unity is unbreakably rooted in the Holy Spirit. For the force that the Church can inject into the modern society consists in that faith and charity put into vital practice, not in any external dominion exercised by merely human means.
Moreover, since in virtue of her mission and nature she is bound to no particular form of human culture, nor to any political, economic or social system, the Church by her very universality can be a very close bond between diverse human communities and nations, provided these trust her and truly acknowledge her right to true freedom in fulfilling her mission. For this reason, the Church admonishes her own sons, but also humanity as a whole, to overcome all strife between nations and race in this family spirit of God's children, and in the same way, to give internal strength to human associations which are just.”17
Unity of the Religious and the Social Aspects of Life
The disjunction, that occurs inside many people, between the faith they confess and their everyday life, must be included among the most serious errors of our age.
“… Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example of the Christ Who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all their earthly activities and to their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory.”18
“Citizens must cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism, but without being narrow-minded. This means that they will always direct their attention to the good of the whole human family, united by the different ties which bind together races, people and nations. All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community. It is for them to give an example by their sense of responsibility and their service of the common good. In this way they are to demonstrate concretely how authority can be compatible with freedom, personal initiative with the solidarity of the whole social organism, and the advantages of unity with fruitful diversity. They must recognize the legitimacy of different opinions with regard to temporal solutions, and respect citizens, who, even as a group, defend their points of view by honest methods. Political parties, for their part, must promote those things which in their judgment are required for the common good; it is never allowable to give their interests priority over the common good.”19
“It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church.
The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with any political community nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.
The Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and independent from each other. Yet both, under different titles, are devoted to the personal and social vocation of the same men. The more that both foster sounder cooperation between themselves with due consideration for the circumstances of time and place, the more effective will their service be exercised for the good of all. For man's horizons are not limited only to the temporal order; while living in the context of human history, he preserves intact his eternal vocation. The Church, for her part, founded on the love of the Redeemer, contributes toward the reign of justice and charity within the borders of a nation and between nations. By preaching the truths of the Gospel, and bringing to bear on all fields of human endeavor the light of her doctrine and of a Christian witness, she respects and fosters the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.”20

Christian Laity in Politics

The Holy Father writes about the right understanding of the political engagement of Christian laity (those members of the Church which are not priests nor members of communities of religious) in his apostolic exhortation Christefideles laici: “A charity that loves and serves the person is never able to be separated from justice. Each in its own way demands the full, effective acknowledgment of the rights of the individual, to which society is ordered in all its structures and institutions.
In order to achieve their task directed to the Christian animation of the temporal order, in the sense of serving persons and society, the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in "public life", that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good. Every person has a right and duty to participate in public life, albeit in a diversity and complementarity of forms, levels, tasks and responsibilities. Charges of careerism, idolatry of power, egoism and corruption that are oftentimes directed at persons in government, parliaments, the ruling classes, or political parties, as well as the common opinion that participating in politics is an absolute moral danger, does not in the least justify either skepticism or an absence on the part of Christians in public life. (…) The spirit of service is a fundamental element in the exercise of political power. This spirit of service, together with the necessary competence and efficiency, can make "virtuous" or "above criticism" the activity of persons in public life that is justly demanded by the rest of the people. To accomplish this requires a full-scale battle and a determination to overcome every temptation, such as the recourse to disloyalty and to falsehood, the waste of public funds for the advantage of a few and those with special interests, and the use of ambiguous and illicit means for acquiring, maintaining and increasing power at any cost. (…) At the same time - and this is felt today as a pressing responsibility - the lay faithful must bear witness to those human and gospel values that are intimately connected with political activity itself, such as liberty and justice, solidarity, faithful and unselfish dedication for the good of all, a simple life-style, and a preferential love for the poor and the least favored in society. This demands that the lay faithful always be more animated by a real participation in the life of the Church and enlightened by her social doctrine. In this they can be supported and helped by the nearness of the Christian community and their Pastors.”21 It is clear from these recommendations that political engagement, as a service to the common good cannot be made equivalent to struggles and fights for influence and power.

Teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the Common Good

The term ‘common good’ is used in connection with social and political activity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says following about the content of this term: “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.”22
“Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”23
“In keeping with the social nature of man, the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person.”24
“Common good is to be understood as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily“. The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements:
First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as ‘the right to act according to a sound norm of one’s own conscience, the right of protection of privacy, and full freedom also in matters of religion’.
Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, etc.
Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.”25
“Human interdependence is increasing and gradually spreading throughout the world. The unity of the human family, embracing people who enjoy equal natural dignity, implies a universal common good. This good calls for an organization of the community of nations able to ‘provide for the different needs of mankind; this will involve the sphere of social life to which belong questions of food, hygiene, education . . ., and certain situations arising here and there, as for example . . . alleviating the miseries of refugees dispersed throughout the world, and assisting migrants and their families’.”26
“It is incumbent on those who exercise authority to strengthen the values that inspire the confidence of the members of the group and encourage them to put themselves at the service of others. Participation begins with education and culture. ‘One is entitled to think that the future of humanity is in the hands of those who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism’.”27

PREMISE OF UNITY – AGREEMENT ON THE BASIC VALUES

We can see that contemporaneously with the process of political and economic unification there are signs of another process in Europe, and that is the process of a still growing disharmony regarding the basic values of the human life and human morals. It happens at the level of the European Parliament which recently passed resolutions supporting homosexual partnership, abortions and other social attitudes debasing and threatening mankind. This decay of unity in moral questions happens also in national parliaments, including the Slovak Parliament, because an impression that majority vote can decide what is good and what is wrong is being created. We know that this process influences the life of the society as well as the life of individuals. People put stress on their freedom, their rights, and their truth. These attitudes are, however, often contradictory, which lead people to a mutual mistrust, isolation, and many times to a selfish assertion of one’s interests, even if they destroy others. Unless basic moral attitudes come from inner conviction of each person, the coercive means of the state will not manage to secure order and justice.
What is the reason for this situation? The Holy Father answers to this question in this way: “ In the middle of the last millennium and concretely since 15th Century, the development of the process of secularization which wanted to push God and Christianity out of every area of human life began. The aim of this process was an agnostic and atheistic secular society, which means a complete and total exclusion of God and the moral natural law from all the spheres of the human life. Thus Christian religion was limited to the private sphere of the life of individuals. Is not it indicative of this point of view that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union avoided every direct reference to religion and so to Christianity as well?”28 Many people, also in our country, do not justify these attitudes theoretically, but in practice they live as if God did not exist. Concretely it is expressed in the understanding of freedom as irresponsibility, without recognizing of the responsibility for one’s decisions and acting before God. Man no longer only chooses between good and evil, but he wants to decide what is right and what is wrong. Since in this approach there is no common and valid truth for all, it results in deep contradictions, even conflicts between people - individuals as well as groups - because what one group considers to be the good they choose, the same is considered evil by another group which protects itself against it... It is clear that if a deep and lasting unity between the nations of Europe (and the whole world) should be created, this unity can stand only on basic moral attitudes that would be accepted by all people and according to which they would try to act.

Way to an Agreement on Basic Values

Is there even a chance to agree on acceptance of some basic values if not all inhabitants of Slovakia or Europe are Christians and not all believe in God? Let us enlighten this problem with the help of the teaching of Veritatis splendor, the encyclical of John Paul II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Conscience

This is written in the encyclical on the theme of conscience and freedom: “Once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its primordial reality as an act of a person's intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now. Instead, there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature.”29
“’It is only in freedom that man can turn to what is good". But what sort of freedom? The Council, considering our contemporaries who "highly regard" freedom and "assiduously pursue" it, but who "often cultivate it in wrong ways as a license to do anything they please, even evil", speaks of "genuine" freedom: "Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image in man. For God willed to leave man "in the power of his own counsel" (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God’. Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known. As John Henry Cardinal Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience, forcefully put it: ‘Conscience has rights because it has duties’.”30

Freedom

“The power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. Man is certainly free, inasmuch as he can understand and accept God's commands. And he possesses an extremely far-reaching freedom, since he can eat "of every tree of the garden". But his freedom is not unlimited: it must halt before the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil", for it is called to accept the moral law given by God. In fact, human freedom finds its authentic and complete fulfillment precisely in the acceptance of that law. God, who alone is good, knows perfectly what is good for man, and by virtue of his very love proposes this good to man in the commandments.
God's law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, it protects and promotes that freedom.
... These doctrines would grant to individuals or social groups the right to determine what is good or evil. Human freedom would thus be able to "create values" and would enjoy a primacy over truth, to the point that truth itself would be considered a creation of freedom. Freedom would thus lay claim to a moral autonomy which would actually amount to an absolute sovereignty.”31

Reason

St. Irenaeus of Lyons says that “man is a reasoning being what makes him similar to God; he was created to be free in deciding and master of his own actions”.32
“Some people, however, disregarding the dependence of human reason on Divine Wisdom and the need, given the present state of fallen nature, for Divine Revelation as an effective means for knowing moral truths, even those of the natural order, have actually posited a complete sovereignty of reason in the domain of moral norms regarding the right ordering of life in this world. Such norms would constitute the boundaries for a merely “human“ morality; they would be the expression of a law which man in an autonomous manner lays down for himself and which has its source exclusively in human reason. In no way could God be considered the Author of this law, except in the sense that human reason exercises its autonomy in setting down laws by virtue of a primordial and total mandate given to man by God. These trends of thought have led to a denial, in opposition to Sacred Scripture (cf. Mt 15:3-6) and the Church's constant teaching, of the fact that the natural moral law has God as its author, and that man, by the use of reason, participates in the eternal law, which it is not for him to establish.”33
“Human dignity requires man to act through conscious and free choice, as motivated and prompted personally from within, and not through blind internal impulse or merely external pressure. Man achieves such dignity when he frees himself from all subservience to his feelings, and in a free choice of the good, pursues his own end by effectively and assiduously marshalling the appropriate means.”34

Moral Law

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the question of the universally valid moral law in this way: “The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom. Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God's pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil that turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love.
Law is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, Creator and Redeemer of all. Such an ordinance of reason is what one calls law…
There are different expressions of the moral law, all of them interrelated: eternal law - the source, in God, of all law; natural law; revealed law, comprising the Old Law and the New Law, or Law of the Gospel; finally, civil and ecclesiastical laws.
The moral law finds its fullness and its unity in Christ. Jesus Christ is in person the way of perfection. He is the end of the law, for only he teaches and bestows the justice of God: "For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.”35

Natural Law

The Holy Father said following on the theme of the natural law as the base of the unity between people: “Natural law is the rational creature's participation in the eternal law of God. On the one hand, we depend on the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus in order to grasp it, on the other hand, the natural law itself offers a basis for dialogue with persons who come from another cultural orientation or formation in the search for the common good.”36
“Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense, which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie.
The ‘divine and natural’ law shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural law states the first and essential precepts that govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one's equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called “natural“, not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature.
The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties.
Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles.
The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history; it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies.
The natural law, the Creator's very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.”37
“The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known “by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error“. The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit.”38
The starting point for an agreement in the basic values of the life of all people – and thus inhabitants of Europe too – is faithfulness to the natural law. When we accept the help given by God’s revelation, especially as revealed through Jesus Christ, we can avoid mistakes and their tragic consequences in the sphere of recognition and realization of the natural law. The Holy Father warns against this: “The old continent needs Jesus Christ so it would not lose its soul and would not give up everything that made it great in the past and what even these days inspires admiration of other nations. Thanks to the Christian message, high human values of the human dignity and inviolability, freedom of conscience, dignity of work and worker, right of everyone for a dignified and secure life and thus for a part on the goods of the earth which God designed for the profit of all people, were strengthened.
Other powers inside the Church and outside her contributed to the reinforcement of these values; sometimes, the even Catholics hesitated to recognize those values which were Christian, but torn away from their religious roots in a deplorable way. Today, the Church offers those values to Europe with a new emphasis, because there is a threat of falling into ideological relativism and moral nihilism where evil is gradually proclaimed to be good and what is good to be evil. My wish full of hope is that the European Union would manage to draw a new power from its own Christian inheritance by giving adequate answers to new questions, especially in the field of ethics.”39

Morality and Faith

It is important to try hard to strengthen our faith in God, to know Jesus Christ better, especially through the Sacred Scriptures and to accept with confidence the teaching of the Church in which the Spirit of the truth works.
The encyclical Veritatis splendor encourages us: “The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.”40
No one can avoid the basic questions: What should I do? How to distinguish the good from evil? The answer is possible only thanks to the splendor of truth that shines deep inside of man… The light of God’s face shines with fullness of its beauty on the face of Jesus Christ who is “the visible likeness of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), “reflects the brightness of God’s glory” (Heb 1:3), “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14), “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Thus Jesus gives the decisive answer to any question of man, especially to religious and moral questions. And even Christ himself is the answer, as the Second Vatican Council confirms: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.”41
Jesus Christ, ‘the light of the nations’, shines in the face of his Church that is sent throughout the whole world to preach the gospel to all mankind (comp. Mk 16:15). Thus the Church, God’s people among the nations, realizing the changes of the history, as well as the effort with which people are searching for the sense of their life, brings to everybody the answer which springs from the truth of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Church has always realized her “duty to examine the signs of the times and to explain them in the light of the Gospel in such a way she could answer adequately to every generation the questions about the sense of the present and the future life and about their mutual relation.” The Church really knows that the requirement of morality touches the profound depths of every person, that it includes everyone, even those who do not know Christ and his Gospel, or they even do not know God.42
The process of the European integration, as every human work, is threatened by weakness and imperfection of people. We, as Christians, are called by Jesus Christ himself to keep watch. We have to collaborate on everything that is good, but at the same time we have to keep a strong attitude of faithfulness to God’s law, even if it be necessary to refuse clearly such opinions or programs, which are in contradiction with God’s law.

Community

God is community. God is love. The Holy Trinity is a community of three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also man is called to create community with God as well as with people. Already two or three persons together create a community in prayer. The first Christians were one in mind and heart (cf. Acts 4:32). We, all the baptized, form God’s people, Christ’s mysterious body. When one limb rejoices, the rest rejoices too, when one grieves, the other limbs of the body grieve too. The bases of these relationships are formed in the family. Family is a “home Church”.
According to international documents as well as the Slovak law, the family is a natural and basic unit of the society and it has the right of protection from the society and the state. Family is formed by one man and one woman who will beget and bring up children as the fruit of their love. A good family brings up responsible citizens too. When the Church warned against a negative demographic development in the mid 1990s, there were many who underestimated and minimized her voice. The negative demographic predictions have been confirmed in these our days.
The Church esteems natural communities – marriage, family, as well as associations and extragovernmental organizations – and helps them in their development. She considers them an important contribution to the common good.

Human Dignity

Man is created in God’s image and God’s likeness. That is the starting point for his uniqueness and irreplaceable position. Man is called to search for the truth and God in his life, and to create communities of love. God put mankind into the middle of all creatures with his inviolable dignity. In spite of many common attributes with other living creatures, the Creator went farther and gave us immortal souls… Thanks to the soul and reason we collaborate on his plan of creation, we complete creation. Christians especially are therefore responsible for the protection and promotion of the environment/nature that is God’s gift.
“Life is always a good.”43 In this context we dare to recall the actual and urgent words of the Second Vatican Council: “Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonour to the Creator.”44
The Church cares very much about the world of work. John Paul II often reminds us “mankind is the place of the Church”. High levels of unemployment are a serious problem in Slovakia. The Church feels compassion with each unemployed person. Work is a means for securing our vital needs as well as our participation on God’s plan of creation, a possibility for our personal growth. It is a service for family and for the whole society and it is also participation on Christ’s cross. There must be a possibility for each person to realize the best of himself and he has to take part on the development of a society in which people can live adequately. Each such opportunity calls for personal responsibility.
Work, from the Christian point of view, is especially a social activity. John Paul II expressed it in this way: “To work in a working community with others for others.” This moral approach to work and enterprise is the basis on which cooperation of workers in the management of a company should be based.
In this context, we want to thank all entrepreneurs who create work opportunities as well as the profit reached by honest work. The role of the state is to create better conditions for enterprise – to support more effectively small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, simplifying the conditions for their registration, suppressing more effectively nepotism and corruption, and not imposing high taxes and delivery charges on social funds which are not motivating for enterprise and growth. Enforcement of the law should be supported more, too.
The Church supports personal economic initiative and creativity, which must be constantly developed as a gift from God.
These approaches result from the natural law that is made clear by God’s revelation. They have to help us in a creative realization of the good too, when Slovakia will enter the EU. They also have to help us to recognize which concrete economic practices are in accord with the good of man and which ones threaten him. For only the practices, which are in accord with the mentioned moral principles, serve for the good of all.

UNDERSTANDING AND PEACE ARE THE FRUITS OF THE UNITY OF EUROPE

Understanding and peace are the most visible fruits of the collaboration of European nations during the last fifty years. European history, which has for centuries been marked with blood, wars and mutual hostility, has lived to see a long period of peace and stability after World War II. Frenchmen and Germans, two traditional rivals, managed to forgive each other and they form the core of the community of European states nowadays.
The vision of the Fathers of the idea of European integration – to establish lasting peace in Europe through understanding and collaboration – is being fulfilled. Also that is the reason why the Church supports this process “as a sure path to peace and harmony among peoples, seeing it as a faster way to achieve the European common good”45. French-German reconciliation can be a model for nations of Central and Eastern Europe how to forgive the injustice of the past and open the way to collaboration.
Peace, which the founders of the European integration were seeking, is the ideal for whole of Europe. One of the conditions to achieve this peace is unification of Europe. Europe will gain strength through unification, thanks to which it will be able to take on responsibility of contribution to the spreading the peace in other parts of the world. After having been the centre of two most terrible wars, spreading of peace should be the most important mission of Europe towards other continents.
If Slovakia wants to grow and if our citizens should believe in their future, the basic condition for the fulfilment of our expectations is peace and lasting stability. Even if the representatives of states carry the biggest responsibility for peace in the world, we all have to make an effort for it. Jesus blesses all peacemakers. This role is especially important for us Christians.
We realize that hostility between nations results from isolation, from the fear of the alien, from the ideologies proclaiming superiority and spreading hatred. The structure of the West-European society is mixed – immigrants from different parts of Asia and Africa and generations of their descendants make part of it. Other religions, especially Islam, have a high representation among the believers in the countries of the EU.
We must be prepared to meet immigrants more frequently also in our society. The social learning of the Church, starting from the teaching of Christ, calls us to deal with each person with the same regard, as a son or a daughter of one Father, and to respect their human dignity. The contact with other religions should be for us an encouragement for deepening our own faith. The care for the relatives of Muslims, for example, can be an encouragement and an impulse to appeal to our conscience. Not hostility and fear, but love and understanding have to be the testimony of our living faith in Christ. We have to realize that these opportunities to meet people of other religions are at the same time an appeal to mediate to them belief in Christ, while respecting their freedom of conscience.
The rule that is common for all people: “Do for others what you want them to do for you” (Mt 7:12) is the base for the dialogue between Christians, but also with representatives of other religions that are present in the EU nowadays, as well as with non-believers. This golden rule speaks about love, about loving all people without distinctions. It is an opportunity to learn to love not only our neighbours, but also to respect any other nation like our own. “Nations are the richness of the human race, each one hides inside a shade of God’s intention.”46 This is a Christian attitude of openness and the base for building any community, in the context of the EU too.
Also in Slovakia, there are several minority communities that belong to different cultures, languages, nationalities, confessions… We all are God’s children. This variety is called to contribute to a mutual enrichment. Any unequal position of some groups, prejudice towards them and their humiliation break human dignity and faith in God.

SOME IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES

We want to point out some principles in this section, which determine basic relations in the EU. Even if they are defined in the basic documents of the Union, their implementation is made possible more by the depth of conviction and engagement on the part of individual members of the society concerning values than by legal means and provisions. These principles are an ideal. The more that life in the EU at all levels of social life will come closer to that ideal, the more human that life will be for all its citizens.

Subsidiarity

Europe is home of many nations and nationalities, cultures, languages and confessions. With the idea of her continual integration we will inevitably collide with the question: How can such a community work effectively and rightfully at the same time? How should common decisions be made so that no member would feel injustice? The solution of this question is proposed by applying the principle of subsidiarity.
It is convenient to explain in brief this often mentioned, but not always understood principle. Subsidiarity is a key term of the social learning of the Church which was mentioned for the first time by Pope Pius XI in 1931 in his encyclical Quadragesimo anno, issued on the fortieth anniversary of the first important social encyclical Rerum novarum (Pope Leo XIII).
Subsidiarity is defined in the encyclical in the following way: “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.”47
Subsidiarity has two dimensions: competence for a decision should not be removed from a smaller and more local community if that community is able to manage on its own. But in case it is not able to solve the problem, the bigger or higher community should help the smaller one.
In a natural progression: an individual – family – community – region – state – international community, that part of the society which is able to resolve the given matter in the most effective way has to act. Subsidiarity can be understood as help to self-help.
This approach is in accord with the human dignity and freedom, it allows the development of man’s gifts and at the same time it supports his self-confidence and self-respect. A consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity is conditioned by responsibility and initiative.
The principle of subsidiarity is anchored in the European Community Foundation Treaty.48 This is a concrete example how the social learning of the Church enriched social learning in an important way and thus contributed to the development of human society.
We cannot expect that the Union will solve all our problems. In the sense of the principle of subsidiarity, we cannot give up the responsibility for the tasks given to us, the responsibility for family, education, culture or implementation of the moral and Christian principles in our society.

Solidarity

“The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of friendship or social charity, is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood.”49 It can be expressed by words “we are all on the same boat”.
“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”50
Solidarity is the cement of each community. If the community of European states has to develop, it is necessary that all its members are willing to take part on its building. All inhabitants of Europe must take part in its future.
We can realize in this context how the EU would be impoverished if we considered it only a common market. It must be especially a community of values that are developed thanks to the solidarity of its members. The idea of the community of European nations could not be fulfilled without solidarity. The Holy Father expressed it too with following words: “I can state with satisfaction that many nations of Central and Eastern Europe demand admission to the European Union to play a creative role there. I hope and wish that the responsible officials in the Union would manage to support that effort by showing understanding in the initial phase towards the adaptation to the projected economic conditions which are surely not easy because of the weak economy of the eastern countries as those countries left a different economic program only a short time ago.”51
Europe cannot forget the abyss between the advanced industrial countries and the poor countries that is deepening. The real solidarity must therefore be applied not only inside Europe, but also in the relation to the rest of the world.
As Christians, we have to be sowers of charitable love. We must not forget about the acts of corporal and spiritual mercy and we must not be indifferent to the poor, the sick and to the people in distress. The service of love comes from the human heart and therefore it cannot be replaced by any institution. Solidarity is a challenge to fulfil Christ’s love.

Responsibility in Freedom

Every person longs for happiness and it is understandable that he seeks to create with his work values that are directed to his welfare. It is the moral duty of each state to create such conditions for its citizens so they could develop every side of their personality, including the economic sphere.
The integration of European countries in the economic sphere brought the common market, common currency and freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. The removal of the borders and barriers in the common economic collaboration should contribute to an economic growth, which is the condition of the improvement of living standards on the European continent.
Free movement in the EU means an opportunity to study in any European country or a possibility to find employment or to enterprise in a much boarder space. Freedom is thus a valuable value thanks to which each person can realize better his desires and expectations.
We must, however, remember that true freedom has an ethical dimension. Freedom should not be a possibility to do whatever one wants, but first of all a possibility to do good. We will achieve it only in the case that along with freedom, we will also fully take up the responsibilities we received with freedom. The responsibilities we received for our families and neighbors, ones, for the society in which we live, and for the whole of humankind.

Plurality

The principle of plurality requires that everyone respects fully each other and does not force anyone to give up something they consider vitally important. From there comes the duty not to force anybody to one’s own convictions. Plurality presumes toleration, which is to respect another person as he is, until his effort is directed to doing good and that he does not use morally wrong means. Respect of these principles is an important condition for building of the EU.
Diversity of opinions is profitable for society. But on the condition that everybody respects the basic moral laws, which are common for everybody, and which every one of us has engraved in his own conscience. One of such moral foundations is t he respect for every human being and the respect of the dignity of human life. That is why views, which degrade the value of each human life from conception until a natural death are not simply an expression of an opinion, but also an attack on the basic values of our society.
Plurality does not mean indifference to the truth and the search for the truth. “Truth does not impose itself except by virtue of its own truth.”52 We have to know how to accept the truth and not close our eyes before it. In the name of the truth we cannot agree with attitudes, which under the gown of false plurality degrade human dignity. We cannot abide suppression of human conscience under the guise of plurality, nor the negation or the disapproving of basic values. “Put all things to the test: keep what is good.” (1 Thes 5:21)
As Christians, we should be sensitive to opinions of other people and we should be able to express understanding of unfamiliar or alien attitudes, but we must not tolerate evil. That is why we have to ask God for the wisdom to be able to distinguish the good from evil and to think in truth. “The truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31)
The Church has expressed her positive opinion on democracy several times. The Gospel contains historically the first teaching about the fundamental equality of all people, and creates a radical solidarity for respecting individuals. We are all children of one Father and from that our dignity, rights and duties come.
These solid values, however expressed and supported by democracy, are not founded on the basis of majority votes. They are the values based on the dignity of each human being, protection of persons from their conception until a natural death, on solidarity, and on the common good. “The basis of these values cannot be provisional and changeable “majority“ opinions, but only the acknowledgment of an objective moral law which, as the “natural law“ written in the human heart, is the obligatory point of reference for civil law itself. (…) Even in participatory systems of government, the regulation of interests often occurs to the advantage of the most powerful, since they are the ones most capable of manoeuvring not only the levers of power but also of shaping the formation of consensus. In such a situation, democracy easily becomes an empty word.”53
If religion, which supports real human values, is dying “a democratic regime loses the ability to live and the free field will be mastered by false gods of nationalism and fundamentalism which will destroy democracy at the end.” Because “a free secularised state lives from the values it cannot give.”54
“Democracy has its bases in the Gospel, because its driving engine is love.”55 We are therefore obliged to contribute with our everyday effort to the promotion and protection of the real democracy that is based on respecting of human dignity and solidarity.

SEARCHING FOR COMMON VALUES

When we look at some of the present activities of the European Parliament, we have to see that the representatives of European countries often have contradictory opinions on basic values. The future development of the EU was indicated in the discussion about the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union approved during the summit in Nice in December 2000. Even if the document is only a political declaration and thus not binding from the legal point of view, the suggestions that occurred in the process of its approval indicate the attitude of the present European political representation towards Christian religious convictions and towards religious communities.
The Catholic Church supports univocally the assertion of human rights and welcomes the efforts for their legal support. Human rights are an inseparable part of every human being regardless of one’s origin, race, profession or confession, because human rights come from human dignity and unrepeatable equality of every person created in God’s image. The philosophy of human rights is a spiritual product of the Judeo-Christian civilization and it is not repeated to any such extent in any other religious and/or cultural system.
Even if several international documents regarding the protection of human rights were approved in the 20th century, it is good that the discussion about it still continues – a true discussion that is not making relative or debasing human rights, but a discussion that is trying to secure the most effective protection of human dignity.
Unfortunately, the EU representatives have not taken the chance to strengthen consistently such values and the dignity of human life when creating the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Although the Charter is against reproductive cloning, it does not express any opinion about so-called therapeutic cloning, that is, a cloning for therapeutic purposes. The Charter is also silent about the need of the protection of life from its conception until a natural death, which has among other things resulted in the latest decision to finance the UNFPA after the United States refused to finance it anymore. The Charter also relativises the importance and values of marriage and family for society, and so opens a space for the recognition of the unions of persons of the same sex.
Even if God is the highest value for believing Europeans, he is not mentioned in the Charter. The Holy Father John Paul II too has expressed his disappointment about this attitude. He considers it alien to history and offending the ideals of the Fathers of the new Europe.
We consider it vitally important that precisely during the current discussion about the future of the EU the question of spiritual values of this community must be discussed. European nations need to know without question what the mission of the EU should be and what its direction is. If its only sense is built on materialistic values it can easily become a new Babylon because every one will search primarily for his own benefit in such a community.
Europe would have never become what it is now without Christianity. The representatives of all the countries should not forget it. On the contrary, they should accentuate the role of religion in Europe in the future constitution of the EU. “The future of our civilization will be given by the importance of the role of religion in it.”56
Many European constitutions refer to God as to the highest authority. We are convinced that only God is the deepest base of the values. We respect our brothers who do not share our faith and we do not deny their rights, but we ask them not to deny history. The 20th century was a warning that building of political systems that consist of democratic institutions, but without the base of transcendental authority can lead to an open or hidden totalitarianism.

SLOVAKIA IN THE ENLARGED EUROPAN UNION

In the context of the present integration desires and actions, a discussion about the place and future of national states must take place. The fear of losing their own, national identity causes expressions of unwholesome nationalism in many countries. On the other hand, a certain meaning and importance of ‘nation’ as such cannot be denied.
Also the II Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops indicated its interest on this theme: “On the one hand, national differences need to be maintained and cultivated as the foundation of European solidarity, and, on the other, that national identity is not realised unless it is open to other peoples through solidarity with them. Nations, therefore, urgently need to be inspired and guided by the concept of ‘the family of nations,’ which must direct – even more than simply a law – the relations among peoples. (…) In addressing the subject, what matters is the following: to distinguish properly between nationalism and patriotism; to discern between positive and negative aspects of national feeling; to recognise and defend the rights of minorities against the trend to uniformity; to respect and promote the right of every nation to preserve its national sovereignty.”57
Robert Schuman, the author of the idea of the European integration, said already in 1957: “We must build Europe not only according to the interests of the free nations, but also for the nations from the East, so they could return here once they will be liberated from their present bondage and they will ask us for accession and moral support.”
After the fall of communism, most of the countries of the former Soviet block readily applied for the responsibility for building the united Europe. Slovakia too had to ask itself where it belongs after the fall of totalitarianism and achievement of independence. Our history and Christian tradition lead to the decision to apply for membership in the family of European democratic countries.
Besides Slovakia, there are eleven more candidates negotiating about entering the EU. The enlargement of the Union will increase the number of its inhabitants to almost 500 millions, and the number of member countries will double. The Union has never stood in front of such an important decision before. It is therefore understandable that inhabitants of the Western Europe are afraid of the entry of their economically weaker neighbors from Eastern Europe.
In this context, we have to underline the effort of the Catholic Church, which reminds us constantly that European integration does not mean only the building of the common market, but it is an expression of understanding and solidarity between nations, and calls on the representatives of governments and countries to accelerate the preparations for the EU enlargement.
The Holy Father John Paul II often speaks about the ideal of a “Europe that breathes with two lungs not only from a religious, but also from a cultural and political point of view.”58 He points to the mutual interconnection of Eastern and Western Europe and to the need of a better collaboration between these two parts of our continent. Development of ecumenical relationships with the members of other Christian communities here in Slovakia as well as in the rest of Europe is an important contribution to building of a true unity.
We judge positively the effort developed by the representatives of the Slovak Republic during the preparations for entering the EU. Many of our citizens are afraid of losing our sovereignty. We will really give up a part of our sovereignty in the EU. But if the Union is guided according to Christian principles from which it grew we will achieve a portion of the common, higher sovereignty which will bring us positive values and possibilities we could never secure on our own.
The integration of Europe is a challenge for us to fulfill in the freedom achieved after a century of wars and the oppression of totalitarianism. Today, when our vision – to become a part of the EU – is getting close to its fulfillment, we have to ask ourselves the question: What the Union will give us and what will be required from us. It is the task for our political representatives and social authorities to give us a true and undistorted answer.
Western Europe can be an ideal for us in many aspects. Our society lags behind in many questions of intolerance of corruption, and the enforcement of the law. On the other hand, we regard with preoccupation the consumer way of life prevailing in many countries of the EU, the relativising of values, the progressing secularization. Similar tendencies to these developments unfortunately are occurring in the whole world, including the less developed countries of Africa, Asia and South America. We have to recognize that one of the reasons of the practical materialism is the shallowness and half-heartedness of the lives of many Christians.
Also this is why we think that the preparations in the sphere of economy, law and politics are not enough. We invite you, as your spiritual shepherds, to prepare your soul and strengthen your faith. After the admission to the EU, Christians will be exposed to many influences, some of which can already be seen in Slovakia. If our faith is based only on traditions it will not survive. It is important that our faith is conscious and living. If we keep God in our hearts as the highest value and if we are firmly connected with the community of the Church, there is no risk that we will get lost.
European integration is a space for us Christians to become involved and to assert the common good in the social life. Our faith cannot be protected by isolation and seclusion. Our faith lives through spreading. The faith that fears is dying. Europe needs a new evangelization and we have to be disciples of Christ’s teaching. The task of every Christian is a creative activity in civic society where he has to witness God with his attitudes, his actions, and in everyday life.
In the context of the new circumstances in which we will be after entering the EU, it is very important that our faith becomes conscious and consistent in order to be able to process and to get through the actual problems. We cannot do it on our own. Every Christian needs the background of the Church community and the irreplaceable help of the Magisterium of the Church – the Roman Pope and bishops united with him. This service must be understood in faith, hearing the words of Christ addressed to his disciples: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me.” (Lk 10:16)
There are many exemplary Catholics in the countries of Western Europe from whom we can learn. But we can meet also some Catholics whose main credo is refusing the Magisterium of the Church and pressing their own ideas, many times in disaccord with the truth of the Gospel. Do not allow yourselves to be misled by such Catholics, but let us affirm our loyalty to Christ and to the Church with honest self-confidence.
The basic expression of this loyalty is Christian celebration of Sunday and feasts – and mainly an active participation at Holy Mass. When we are away from in our home parish, whenever we are, we should search for a possibility to meet Christ in the community of the Church. We will then achieve a precious experience that we can find our spiritual home everywhere the Church is, and where the Eucharist is celebrated. Only in the case that we co-create and search for this spiritual home, we can contribute to the effort that our continent will become a true home for everyone.
The celebration of the faith, the life with the community of the Church, must continue in all spheres of our life. We must have good confidence that by applying Christian moral principles we contribute in the best way to our own good, to the good of our neighbors, and thus to the good of the integrating of Europe.
We also would like to greet our compatriots spread throughout Europe and in the whole world. The Church thinks about you and tries to support you in your religious, national, cultural, linguistic and human needs. You are enrichment of our nation. Brothers and sisters here and abroad, we encourage you to keep an active dialogue and help each other as well as you can so that Slovakia has a dignified place in the future of Europe.
We cannot end this pastoral letter without turning to you, young Christians. Dear young friends, you are the ones who will live in the new Europe for the longest time and you will change it for the longest time. Take as your own the words of the Holy Father addressed to young Europeans in Loreto in September 1995: “It is necessary that on this continent where already for two hundred years a program of liberty, equality and brotherhood has been proclaimed, but deformed and stained with blood of so many innocent people, that on this continent a new program of liberty rings out for which we are called by Christ. Only the liberty, to which Christ liberates us, can become the source of equality and brotherhood. It is not liberty for its sake, absolute and egocentric liberty which – as experience shows – often ends as destroying liberty. The real liberty is a remarkable means for achieving the aim that is love creating brotherhood… You are standing before building of a big European house… Let Christ’s Mother implore for you the grace that the Nazareth house would become for you a solid and fixed point and never ending inspiration for your big task.”59 Try your best – as you were invited by the Holy Father at the World Youth Day in Toronto to build God’s city in the city of man. “On what foundations, on what certainties should we build our lives and the life of the community to which we belong? Dear Friends, spontaneously in your hearts, in the enthusiasm of your young years you know the answer, and you are saying it through your presence here this evening: Christ alone is the cornerstone on which it is possible solidly to build one’s existence. Only Christ – known, contemplated and loved – is the faithful friend who never lets us down… The twentieth century often tried to do without that cornerstone, and attempted to build the city of man without reference to Him. It ended by actually building that city against man! Christians know that it is not possible to reject or ignore God without demeaning man.”60
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we encourage you to accompany these efforts to create a more human world with a sincere prayer for God’s blessing, because the words of the Psalm are still true: “If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless.” (Ps 127:1) as well as Christ’s words: “You can do nothing without me.” (Jn 15:5) Pray that there be more and more of us who do achieve the experience, also in the context of building of the European house, which St. Paul expressed in these words: “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Phil 4:13)

Bratislava, September 15, The Feast of the Virgin of Seven Sorrows, holy patron of Slovakia.

Bishops of Slovakia


NOTES

1 – Comp. John Paul II: Message to the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2001
2 – John Paul II: Homily in Gniezno, June 3, 1997
3 – John Paul II: Address to the participants of the III. International Forum of the Foundation Alcide De Gasperi, February 23, 2002
4 – Comp. John Paul II: Slavorum apostoli, Rome, 1988
5 – Robert Schuman (1886-1963), important postwar French politician, Minister of the Foreign Affairs and later the Prime Minister, contributed in a remarkable way to French-German reconciliation. Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) was the first postwar German Chancellor, so called architect of the European integration. Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954), after the World War II elected Italian Prime Minister, considered as founder of united Europe together with Adenauer and Schuman
6 – The Schengen Treaty is an international treaty removing border controls between member states of the treaty. It was signed on June 14, 1985 and became valid in March 1995
7 –, John Paul II: Address to Slovak pilgrims in St.Peter's Basilica
November 9, 1996
8 - John Paul II: Homily in Gniezno, June 3, 1997
9 – John Paul II: Border for Europe, in Vita e Pensiero, n. 4,5,6 (July – December 1978), Milan, Catholic University
10 - John Paul II: Address to Slovak pilgrims in St.Peter's Basilica
11 – Letter to Diognetus, 6:ed.Funk, I, p.400 [2nd century AD]
12 – Spezzibottiani, M.: Giovanni Paolo II, Profezia per l’Europa, Rome, 1999, pp. 848-849
13 – ibid
14 – Gaudium et spes, 39
15 – ibid, 26
16 – ibid, 41
17 – ibid, 42
18 – ibid, 43
19 – ibid, 75
20 – ibid, 76
21 – John Paul II: Christefideles laici, 42
22 – The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1897
23 – CCC, 1903
24 – CCC, 1905
25 – CCC, 1906-1909
26 – CCC, 1911
27 – CCC, 1917
28 - John Paul II: Address to the participants of the III. International Forum of the Foundation Alcide De Gasperi, February 23, 2002
29 – John Paul II: Veritatis splendor, 32
30 – ibid, 34
31 – ibid, 35
32 – St. Irenaus of Lyons: Adversus haereses, 4,4,3:SC 100, 424
33 - John Paul II: Veritatis splendor, 36
34 – ibid, 42
35 – CCC, 1950-1952
36 - John Paul II: Address to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, January 18, 2002
37 – CCC, 1954-1959
38 – CCC, 1960
39 - John Paul II: Address to the participants of the III. International Forum of the Foundation Alcide De Gasperi, February 23, 2002
40 – John Paul II: Veritatis splendor, 1
41 – Gaudium et spes, 22
42 – Comp. John Paul II: Veritatis splendor, 3
43 – John Paul II: Evangelium vitae, 34
44 – Gaudium et spes, 27
45 – John Paul II: Address to the COMECE, March 30, 2001
46 – Solzhenitsen, A., Russian writer
47 – Pius XI: Quadragesimo anno, 80
48 – Amsterdam text, 5
49 – CCC, 1939
50 – John Paul II: Solicitudo rei socialis, 38
51 - John Paul II: Address to the participants of the III. International Forum of the Foundation Alcide De Gasperi, February 23, 2002
52 - John Paul II: Ut unum sint, 3
53 – John Paul II: Evagelium vitae, 70
54 – Bockenford, E.W. (judge of the Constitutional Court in Germany) conference about Christianity and democracy in 1993
55 – Bergson, H., French philosopher
56 – F. von Hayek, Austrian laureate of the Nobel Prize for Economy
57 - Synod of Bishops: II Special Assembly for Europe, Jesus Christ alive in his Church, Source of Hope for Europe, Instrumentum Laboris, SSV, Trnava, 1999, v.85
58 - John Paul II: Address to the COMECE, March 30, 2001
59 - Spezzibottiani, M.: Giovanni Paolo II, Profezia per l’Europa, Rome, 1999, p. 759
60 – John Paul II: Evening Vigil with Young People, Downsview Park, Toronto, July 27, 2002