By Lydia O'Kane
The conference, sponsored by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), brought political and religious leaders together at the Vatican for the high-level dialogue.
During the conference, Lydia O’Kane was able to speak with some of the participants, including Noel Treanor, the Bishop of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland; and Francis Campbell, former British Ambassador to the Holy See and Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
They spoke to Vatican Radio about the Christian roots of Europe, the role Christian identity might play in Europe’s future and about Europe in the era of Brexit.
Speaking about the importance of Europe’s Christian identity, Bishop Treanor highlighted the massive impact of the Christian tradition and particularly Catholic social teaching has made to the “initiation, the conception and indeed the implementation of the European project.”
Also commenting on in the subject of Europe’s Christian identity, Francis Campbell referred to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s words on the risk of a secularized Europe, saying that the then Pope wasn’t talking about one group belonging and another not belonging, but Campbell said, “you can’t integrate people into nothingness, they have to be integrated into a set of values and the set of values whether they be Christian, or Islamic or Hindu in terms of a society is something that our cultures have evolved with and grown with over centuries. I think for us actually finding the space and the ideas around which Europe wants to be cohesive, I think that is not fundamental…”
Asked about the impact of Brexit on the European project and the effects of it at a local level, Bishop Treanor spoke about the concerns of parishioners in his diocese saying, “many have expressed to me concerns about the impact of Brexit on the economy”, but the Bishop also stressed, that it is not just the impact on the economy to consider; there is in particular the impact on the future of family life.