Cardinal Hollerich has hit out at a “new selfishness” in Europe, saying that “we cannot be Christians without having in our hearts the people who need help”.

– “If we make migrants return to Libya then talking about the Christian roots of Europe becomes a lie”

Jean-Claude Hollerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg and president of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, was speaking to Vatican News on the occasion of the feast of St. Benedict, patron saint of Europe, July 11.

The cardinal lamented that “especially in the period of the pandemic we are experiencing, Europe has become a little more poorer, more insecure and a new selfishness has been born”.

“We do not want to see the terrible situation in which migrants find themselves”, Hollerich deplored, citing as proof of that fact the latest episode of European inhospitality in the Mediterranean, in which a week ago both Italy and Malta rejected 52 migrants stranded on an animal cargo ship.

But the cardinal warned that “if the ship of the European Union does not save the people who are at sea, if we make those migrants return to Libya even though we know the conditions there, then we lose the heart of Europe: then talking about the Christian roots of Europe becomes a lie”.

Hollerich contrasted Europe’s attitude towards migrants with the example of its patron saint, who, “perhaps without knowing it, created the first European social system: people who had no children turned to his monasteries, which provided food and lodging”.

To follow in St. Benedict’s footsteps “we must rediscover this social sense that must become truly global”, the cardinal urged.

– “Peace, politically, is in crisis in Europe”

The financial, moral and spiritual poverty to which Europe has been reduced by COVID-19 is reflected too in the present weakness of its institutions, Hollerich continued.

“Peace, politically, is in crisis in Europe. If the European Union becomes weaker – and we know that there is populism that wants to weaken Europe – then peace will be threatened”, the cardinal warned.

But it is not just political peace that is in danger, he said: the “peace of heart” of citizens is also threatened too, for which reason the Church “must proclaim the Gospel… and show, with our Christian communities, that peace is possible, but only as a gift from God”.

Like the State, the Church too “must work for a more just society”, since “Europe will be Christian if it regains the importance of justice, equality [and] sustainability”, Hollerich continued, echoing a petition the COMECE and the CEC – the Conference of European Churches – made days back to the new German presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“We must also be fair to the new generations”, the cardinal continued, insisting that “we need intergenerational justice: we must leave young people a land in which they can live, be happy and find the meaning of their lives”.

“This is a true call to justice and I find people like St. Benedict to be a profound inspiration”, Hollerich admitted.

– Less “Christian roots of Europe” thinking and more “prophecy that opens up to the future”

On the other hand, what the Church must move away from, in the cardinal’s opinion, is its interventions in politics on the basisof the ‘Christian roots of Europe’ argument, which glance to the past unaccompanied by a hopeful look to the future becomes “a bit heavy, a repetition”.

“I believe that the Christian roots of Europe are there and it is easy for anyone with a sense of history to see that Europe is based on Christianity. But at the same time I think that we always talk about the importance of Christian roots without adding a word of prophecy that opens up to the future”, which is what Europeans are looking for, Hollerich lamented.

“So, I repeat: the Christian roots are there and sometimes we have to talk about them. But in order to open ourselves to the future, to hear God’s call today. Because God continues to call us, to question us”, the cardinal insisted.

More stories on Cardinal Hollerich, on Novena:

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“We must not close our hearts”: Cardinal Hollerich appeals to Europe to help countries most affected by COVID-19


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.