16 June 2016, The Tablet

‘Despite our separate identity, we are part of the whole’

by Tom Tugendhat

 

The Catholic Church values stability because it allows families and communities to grow. It is not just an economic good but one that strengthens society and alleviates suffering. When our society is riven by division based on ethnicity, wealth or political outlook – as it was in the 1930s and during the industrial unrest of the 1970s – it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most. That is why unity and cooperation is so prized.

St John Paul II recognised this in his work to persuade Poland to join the EU. Having lived through the Second World War, he knew the consequence of violence on the weakest. Though he remained a stern critic of ­materialism in both the West and the Communist bloc, he saw cooperation as ­essential to a future which valued human ­dignity above the narrow competition for resources that had dominated his early life.
In his speech to the European Parliament in 2014, Pope Francis took up the same theme. While he attacked the EU for giving the impression that it regards the world with “aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion,” he saw its value too. He argued that cooperation provides a strength that allows each individual a greater freedom.

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