When I wrote the editorial last week I had hoped that the vote in the United Kingdom on its membership of the European Union would have turned out differently. Sadly, it has not. The UK had voted to leave the EU. There is not much more to say. However, a vote to leave the EU does not mean that there is not a commitment from individuals and organisations in the UK to unity and European co-operation.
The Rev. Dr. Richard Frazer, Convenor of the Church and Society Council of Eurodiaconia member the Church of Scotland said this: “The natural inclination of the Church has been internationalist, because our Christian faith does not recognise borders but sees the world and all its people as one. We are part of a world-wide community with a responsibility to one another and the whole of creation. Over recent years, the urgency of taking that international responsibility seriously has become more clear as global poverty, environmental degradation, and the refugee catastrophe call us to find co-operative and international responses.”
Hugh Osgood, Moderator of our member the Free Churches Group in the UK said this: “With the referendum completed, we as Free Churches call upon politicians around the four nations of the United Kingdom to work together to establish a renewed sense of unity and purpose in what looks to be a divided but decidedly new era.”
Eurodiaconia is a European organisation. We encourage European co-operation both within and outside the European Union. Being a citizen of a member of the European Union does not make us European. Our individual and communal values and attitudes of solidarity, justice, democracy, co-operation and pluralism are what make us European. The sharing of our histories, our present and our future, beyond political boundaries, are what make us European. Eurodiaconia has members who are part of the European Union and who are not, and all are welcome in our network. At our recent AGM we have adopted a declaration on hospitality to demonstrate how our values shape our actions.
We see the fragility of those values in many parts of Europe with increasing normalisation of words and action that are unacceptable and do not respect the inherent worth of each person. That is not hospitality. That is not the Europe we in Eurodiaconia work for.
Today it might seem our notion of Europe is fracturing, that the UK decision had caused an unbreachable fissure among Europeans. It will only do that if we let it. We must remain united nationally and internationally, committed to better social outcomes for all, to the minimising of social risk and to the demonstration of hospitality.
That uniting must also go beyond politics. This week we have also been reminded of the fragility of human life. The horrific attack in Istanbul Airport showed that human fragility once again. It showed us how as humans we are capable of causing immense hurt and pain but also of responding with immense love. Our thoughts and prayers go to all those affected.
Have a good weekend