Freedom of religion is under grave attack, such as happened when Italian Rocco Buttiglione was denied a Commissionership simply because he is Catholic. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion were and still are under attack, as we saw when the European Commission set up a panel of experts to evaluate a Concordat Slovakia planned to sign with the Holy See and the resulting report found that a woman’s right to have an abortion trumped the right of a doctor to conscientious objection. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are under attack when laws on sexual orientation and same sex marriage are forced on nation states and anyone who dares object is guilty of a hate crime. The right to life is under attack when Europe decides that sexual and reproductive health is a right and this includes abortion or when on myriad occasions the human embryo has not been respected from the moment of conception. Democracy itself is under attack when governments deny the right of their peoples to have a real say in the future of Europe.
We hunger and thirst for real justice in all of these and many other areas and are conscious of the message of John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa when he wrote;
Raise your voices in the face of the violation of human rights of individuals, minorities and peoples, beginning with the right to religious freedom; pay utmost attention to everything that concerns human life from the moment of its conception to natural death and to the family based on marriage: these are the foundations on which our common European home rests; ... respond, with justice and equity and with a great sense of solidarity, to the growing phenomenon of migration, and see in it a new resource for the future of Europe; make every effort to guarantee young people a truly humane future with work, culture, and education in moral and spiritual values. (182)This is the Europe we want, Pope John Paul II has highlighted the way forward and Europe needs to listen. The political elite of Europe must cease to involve itself in empire building and in social engineering. They must turn their backs on the culture of death and begin to understand the deep-rooted needs of the people. They must embrace real justice and peace and begin to value life at all stages from conception to natural death. They must decide to embrace real democracy. When we see these root and branch changes in the development of the new Europe most people will be willing to accept it.