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September 12 2011 | MUNICH, GERMANY


“Europe: the direction to take” – “Delighted about Benedict XVI’s visit”

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Germany looks with favour upon the Arab Spring: “We are taking steps to create jobs for 5,000 Arab youths. Everyone must contribute according to their possibilities”. Angela Merkel, born in the eastern part of a once-divided Germany and today Chancellor the German Federal Republic in a united Europe, delineated with this example the mission that Europe should and must resume in history while addressing the audience of religious and political leaders gathered in Munich by the Community of Sant’Egidio. “The European cause is too serious to be left to just a few people – Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant’Egidio, had said – Otherwise we become prisoners of the debates in our countries, shouted and quickly forgotten… That way we will wear ourselves out”.  “The common European house, Merkel explained, was not built in a day and that is why it is solid and presents itself as a community. It has known centuries of war and the darkest days of civilization with the Shoah”. Now it must resume living with a broad vision: “We can gain strength from our economy only if it is sustainable” because “we must not live off the backs of future generations. We must live with our own natural resources while conserving them for the future. We must not deprive others of their future”. Despite our problems, in Europe we have profound common convictions that hold us together. The churches have made a major contribution in this direction. Secularization and the separation between Church and State does not erase the fact that without a faith in God we would forget the sense of our life”.  “In Germany – Merkel stressed – we are delighted to receive a visit by Benedict XVI”.
Speaking of the tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, Angela Merkel expressed concern about relations between Israel and Egypt: “Egypt – she said – must take care that incidents like the one at the embassy do not repeat themselves”. More generally, referring to the situation in the Holy Land, Merkel stressed the need for the existence of two States: Israel and a Palestinian state.
Addressing religious leaders, Angela Merkel invited them to publicize the U.N. Human Rights Charter, which in time has demonstrated its strength as “the basis of our coexistence”. For their part, religions too represent a force of living together.
There are still serious problems to be solved, but a lot of progress has also been made and seemingly impossible obstacles have been overcome. “We have to continue to reflect responsibly. Sant’Egidio’s peace conferences make a huge contribution. It has lived alongside the poor and has treated their wounds. It has taught us that war is the mother of poverty. Please allow me to add that peace is the mother of development.  Let’s commit ourselves with courage to protect peace”.

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