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Columnists > I waited in vain to hear that Europe is a spiritual and moral project

29 June 2016 | by Carmody Grey

I waited in vain to hear that Europe is a spiritual and moral project

 

I have never before been ashamed of being a Briton.

The day after the referendum, someone in Brussels arranged flowers on the street in front of the European Union offices. The flowers spelled a message, which pleaded simply: “Please Stay.” After the grief and anguish of the last few days, seeing the photograph of these fragile blooms laid so tenderly on the tarmac, extending a final desperate attempt at friendship, nearly broke my heart.

It is not the crass rhetoric, the frequent dishonesty, and the exploitation of the desperate divides in our already polarised society, that we witnessed during the campaigning and debating that have shamed me, disgraceful though they were. It is the sheer small-heartedness of the way we went about making this decision.

Britain’s membership of the EU was never just about us. It was about what we believe in, what sort of world we want: do we believe in solidarity, in the hard graft of community-building across every kind of divide, in friendship and cooperation despite all the odds? Or would we rather just be safe in our little citadel, in full control of our own identity and vulnerable to no one else’s? Once, we dropped families, livelihoods, and life itself, to go the aid of our neighbours. But we live in a more selfish age.





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User Comments (10)

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Posted: 28/07/2016 05:26:44

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Comment by: Cordelia
Posted: 10/07/2016 13:11:39
So glad to hear sermon on the good Samaritan today, followed by an appeal for the missions which included 1st hand account of how a Muslim community was suffering at the hands of extremists and how the missionaries were respected for working side by side to support the local community. Pleased to be in the the company of the immigrant population that makes up the congregation and the religious of our 'catholic' church. To my dismay heard on leaving church, despite the majority absorbing the message of today, an individual praising Brexit because we had let too many of 'them' into the country, etc, etc. You who are honest about xenophobia will know the direction of travel. Please can we have unity and clear leadership to challenge on an individual and strategic level these non-Christian attitudes that some deem acceptable even when we gather in the name of Christ.
Comment by: Son of the Church
Posted: 08/07/2016 23:47:22
There is no subsidiarity in the way the EU runs. It also clearly flouts basic Catholic teaching, for example in its approach to the right to life. Good intentions of the founding fathers do not mean that the institution is sacrosanct. It is also closed off to a world that exists beyond its borders. The U.K. has voted to open itself to a far wider world than the bizarre empire run in Brussels. I would argue that no theological virtue is harmed by a vote for Brexit. Faith in God is frankly irrelevant. He exists, so that's that. Hope and Charity exist in equal measure in a progressive post-EU society- we can at last be fully open to the world and welcome those who need a safe place and those from former British colonies who we have wronged in so many ways without any need for interference from unelected officials in the Belgian capital.
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Posted: 06/07/2016 05:42:00
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Comment by: Martin L
Posted: 03/07/2016 12:55:12
Bernard asserts that "we have turned our backs on bridges and bridge building – and instead opted for an ‘Unholy mess of Brexit’" But where's his evidence?
The vote was about whether or not to remain in the EU, not whether to "turn our backs on bridges and bridge building".
I believe in being in community, and love for our neighbours, but I do not believe in the EU project. That the country has voted to come out of the EU does not prove that we have voted as a nation to "turn our backs on bridges and bridge building".
Whatever we had chosen to do as a nation, the future is necessarily unknown, and there are many who consider that it if there is an "Unholy mess" it is the EU.
What do Bernard's very pessimistic assertions and accusations achieve? Do they take us forward, do they build bridges?
Above all, exiting the EU is what the nation has chosen. This is the democratic result and in my view the responsible and Godly thing to do now is to accept and respect the result and to work and pray for the best outcome in the new future which we have chosen.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 03/07/2016 11:22:19
The EU is a moral project. It was/is designed to promote the common good. Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, John Hume spoke of his inspiration.
On first visiting Strasbourg in 1979 as an MEP, he stood in the middle of the bridge between France and Germany, and meditated. ‘There is Germany. There is France. If I was standing here 30 years ago after the Second World War, when 25 million people lay dead across our continent, for the second time in this century and if I had said: “Don’t worry. In 30 years’ time we will all be together in a new Europe, our conflicts and wars will be ended, and we will be working together in our common interests”, I would have been sent to a psychiatrist”.
‘But now it has happened and it is clear that the European Union is best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution – and it is the duty of everyone, particularly those who live in areas of conflict to study how it was done and apply its principles to their own conflict resolution.’
Sadly now here we stand. Exactly 100 years after the slaughter at the Somme, we have turned our backs on bridges and bridge building – and instead opted for an ‘Unholy mess of Brexit’
Comment by: kentgeordie
Posted: 02/07/2016 18:16:12
There were those who argued that the EU is a Bad Thing and we should leave it. And there were those who argued that, while the EU is a Bad Thing, we can make it better, and anyway it is preferable to the alternative.

Nobody was arguing that the EU is a Good Thing, a noble and heroic project to build peace and prosperity, based on our shared traditions, values, and aspirations. Why was this? Because almost nobody really believes it. The EU is a state in search of a nation which does not yet and probably never will exist.
Comment by: Martin L
Posted: 01/07/2016 18:22:20
I turned to this article because I believe that Brexit is a spiritual and moral project.

I did not vote for Brexit out of selfishness. Selfishly I might have voted to stay in, but I and those with whom I prayed for many hours leading up to the vote believe that the EU is ungodly and has been holding back our nation spiritually and morally, and the Brexit is what God is calling us to.

Depending on your view of God's sovereignty, you might wish to consider that the result shows that we were correct.

Either way, please do not allow your disappointment at a result that you do not like to lead to accusation to the motives of those who voted to leave the EU.

Believing in community, and love for our neighbours in Europe is not the same as believing in the EU project. You cannot know the motives of those millions of people who voted for Brexit, and we are told "Judge not, lest you yourselves be judged".

Making accusation of bad motives for those you disagree with does not promote respect for difference, community or the harmony that you profess to believe in.
Comment by: Martin L
Posted: 01/07/2016 18:06:36
I turned to this article because I believe that EXIT from the EU is a spiritual and moral project.

I did not vote for Brexit out of selfishness. Being in Europe, and in community with our neighbours is not the same as being in the EU, which I and those with whom I prayed for Brexit, believe is un-Godly, and has been holding back the UK spiritually and morally.

Depending on what you believe about the Sovereignty of God, you may need to consider the possibility that the result shows that we are right.

But either way, please do not allow your disappointment about a result that you voted against, to lead to making accusations as to the motives of those who voted differently from you. You do not know our motives, and we are called to "Judge not, lest you yourselves be judged". Such accusations inevitably promote disharmony and division - the opposite of what you profess to want.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 01/07/2016 11:37:50
John Hume, winner of the Nobel Pease Prize, and architect of the Northern Ireland Peace Process , consistently presented a thesis that the nation state is 'no longer a sufficient political entity to allow people to have adequate control over the economic and technological forces that affect people's opportunities and circumstances'
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