“Constructing walls between people is never the solution”, the European Bishops have warned on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Driving the news
“The fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November 1989 was one of the most important events in European history of the last decades”, the Bishops of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, said in a statement ahead of the anniversary.
Recalling the “emotion”, “joy” and “hopes” represented by the fall of the Iron Curtain, the prelates celebrated that the end of communism “opened the way for regaining freedom after more than 40 years of oppressive regimes in Central and Eastern European countries”.
“These efforts owed their success to the commitment of a great number of Europeans expressing constantly but peacefully their deep yearning for political change”, the bishops recalled.
The EU bishops lamented that “not all the expectations that the fall of the Wall brought forth have been fulfilled”.
They also deplored that “the ideologies that were behind the building of the Wall have not fully disappeared in Europe and are still present today in different forms”.
But they said the fall of the Berlin Wall “is not only an event of the past to be celebrated but has a prophetic dimension”.
“It has taught us that constructing walls between people is never the solution and it is a call to work for a better and more integrated Europe”, the bishops affirmed.
Why it matters
Acknowledging that “the process of healing and reconciliation is delicate and difficult”, the bishops decried that “for some of the victims of the oppressive regimes of the past this process is far from completed”.
But they expressed their desire to be inspired by the “determination, commitment and suffering” of the victims, and “to revive and foster those signs of hope, those expectations for a better future in Europe and for all Europeans that guided that historic moment” that was the fall of the Wall.
“We call upon all Europeans to work together towards a free and united Europe through a renewed process of dialogue across mentalities and cultures, respecting our different experiences of history and sharing our hopes and expectations for a common peaceful future”, the bishops urged.
But the prelates recalled that “to be able to succeed we need to remember that a culture of encounter implies the genuine capacity to listen first”.
The bishops concluded their statement inviting citizens to “a new commitment to those values Europe is built upon: justice, liberty and peace”.
For the record
“It is a call on the European people to cooperate in solidarity”, said of the EU Bishops’ statement COMECE Vice-President and Bishop of Essen in Germany, Franz-Josef Overbeck.
“In times of strengthened nationalisms, the fall of the Berlin Wall reminds us vividly, and not only the Germans, of the value of liberty, and of the EU’s significance as a project of peace”, added Overbeck.