Monday 6. December 2021
COMECE Press 08/05/2015


8 May 1945: ‘Remembering the end of the Second World War reminds us of our responsibilities’




Reflecting upon the end of the Second World War, exactly 70 years ago today, 8 May, COMECE President Cardinal Reinhard Marx calls for a sense of collective responsibility and a spirit of service to enable Europe to face its present-day challenges such as the refugee situation and social injustice.


“On this day, 8 May, what we remember most of all is the suffering that people had to endure during World War II. It is also a day when we give thanks for liberation from Nazi rule. The fact that we owe our freedom to others means that this commemoration brings us face to face with our own responsibilities. Freedom and responsibility are inseparable. Europe’s founding fathers used this link as their inspiration. They understood that peace in Europe could not be achieved overnight, nor could it be achieved once and for all. Peace could only be reached through a process of constant development, one demanding our constant vigilance. Pope Francis placed particular emphasis on this point during his visit to Strasbourg last year. He recalled that “the dream of the founders was to rebuild Europe in a spirit of mutual service which today too, in a world more prone to make demands than to serve, must be the cornerstone of the Council of Europe’s mission on behalf of peace, freedom and human dignity.”


We are a long way from securely placing the keystone of Europe in the place it deserves. In a stone arch, for example, the keystone is placed right at the top; in a vault, it is placed at the main hub where all ribs converge. The whole structure becomes stable only when this final stone is put into its position. For Pope Francis, the keystone of European society is the unconditional respect of human dignity. The question he puts to us is this: are we still making demands on other people, or have we reached the point of putting ourselves at the service of others?


This crucial question posed by the Pope affects all our current debates in Europe. For instance, what does it mean for the way we are dealing with the refugees who are seeking protection and assistance in Europe? What does it mean in the context of social injustice and tensions in Europe, matters that affect the younger generation who are bereft of future prospects? It’s not always easy to find an answer, let alone a relevant response. But political decisions must be found that are able to reconcile demands and service.


The core challenge that still remains, for us Christians above all, is one that Jesus showed us through example: it is only in caring for others that I can stand up for human dignity. It is precisely through remembering all that we Europeans have suffered, both in our past history and in the present day, that we reinforce our belief that every human life is precious and unique. The reality is that it’s not just that other people need us. We need other people too in order to be able to put the keystone in place.”


Extract from a radio interview broadcast on 2 May by Bayerischer Rundfunk.



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