The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Europe for Christ: A new project launched

From Ashok Chowgule

Historian Martin Kugler, author of the thesis on Christians’ Resistance to Nazism, and his wife, Gudrun Kugler-Lang, have launched a project called “Europe for Christ!”

The project’s objective is to embolden the Christians in order to help them to influence the development of Europe.

In an interview with Zenit, the director of Kairos, a non-profit enterprise advising organisations, explains the project in detail.

Q: Your organisation’s logo slightly modifies the European Union’s flag. The yellow stars on a blue background are made to look like a fish, symbol of Christianity. And, below is the motto “” What do you mean by “Europe for Christ”?

Kugler: “Europe for Christ,” on one hand, reminds the Christians that our continent is so linked to the Gospel that a future without the Christ and the Christian values would be unthinkable.

We also want to help the Christians to come out of their double ghetto: first, that created by indifference and lack of hope in the face of politics and culture; and then the ghetto imposed by the external world, as was clearly evident in the Rocco Buttiglione case.

In the name of a totally false idea of tolerance, over the last few years we have witnessed an ever more generalised intolerance toward Christian convictions, which are judged fundamentalist without a hearing.

We want to help to overcome a climate of lack of hope, inviting the Christians of all European countries to engage in a new common effort with renewed self-awareness.

Q: What does this effort consist of specifically?

Kugler: We are building this project, which is really ecumenical, on three pillars. First, is the invitation to each individual to pray preferably around mid-day, for a Europe penetrated with Christian values. Catholics could also pray the Angelus.

Second, is a monthly newsletter on topics of present importance, which call for the Christian perspective on current issues. The articles are written by renowned personalities such as Rocco Buttiglione, the Italian minister of culture, about whom we just spoke, or the philosopher of Dresden, Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz. They want to offer ordinary Christians arguments to address both minor discussions as well as important debates.

The third pillar derives from the other two and might be described with the concepts “sensitisation,” “boldness” and “political and cultural commitment”. Our logo with the European fish, visible on thousands of cars, wallets and bags, should encourage Christians and give them a positive drive.

Q: Do you work with European bishops?

Kugler: We have informed some European bishops about the project, such as Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Meisner and Archbishop Dziwisz, and their reactions have been very positive.

Representatives of the Protestant and the Anglican churches support us, as for example Nicky Gumble, the initiator of the Alpha courses. But for us it is primarily the commitment of the laity who today have access to sectors of society in which both bishops and priests are not experts.

Q: To what sectors are you referring?

Kugler: There are political entities, sectors of the economy, art and culture and the whole platform of the media, in which everything is dictated by relativism, and which regards almost every strong religious conviction with suspicion.

Even well-known non-Christian thinkers have called attention to the fact that Europeans’ behaviour is foolish, that people who live in glasshouses should not throw stones, when they deny the Gospel values or consider them a private matter.

Q: What are the short and long term objectives and expectations of “Europe for Christ”?

Kugler: We would very much like to collect signatures from our site, so that Christians in Europe will really be present in an active way. We want to unleash a spark to arouse people’s boldness and initiatives.

In the long term, the latter will help us to convince the society and the legislative power, of the imperative need to protect the dignity of the person.

Q: What is the greatest hope you wish to transmit to the European population?

Kugler: We want to tell Europeans that if we recover the spiritual and concrete meaning of the communion of saints, many things will change in European society.

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