REVIEW OF THE EUROPEAN CULTURAL HERITAGE YEAR
Religion is not a bystander, watching European development without being involved. Rather, it is a powerful facilitator of social transformation, actively contributing to the growth and peaceful identity of Europe. This is the conclusion that the Bonifatiuswerk, which is active throughout Europe, has drawn from the 2018 European Cultural Heritage Year. In order to promote future European growth, the religious and cultural heritage of the continent and their significance for the present must be positively affirmed. Particularly the voices of the Christian churches are absolutely necessary for sustainable political action in Europe.
In his theory of society, the sociologist John Rawls – one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century – spoke of a veil of ignorance in which the future of society is hidden and fearsome. The aim of the Bonifatiuswerk in the Cultural Heritage Year was to lift the veil of ignorance regarding European social processes and to expose Europe’s Christian roots. "A large number of projects made it clear that those who are aware of their cultural and religious background have no need to fear the future. If we as Christians succeed in making Christ, as the light of the world, shine in our daily actions, even in turbulent and stressful times within our Church, the dark shadows in the Europe of our time will lose their threat and horror," said the Secretary General of the Bonifatiuswerk, Monsignore Georg Austen.
"Based on this insight, we would like to encourage all political leaders to recognise that Europe has a history shaped by religion and to involve the voice of the Christian Churches more strongly in their political actions. We would like to encourage those in positions of responsibility at all levels of the Church not to be timid custodians of Europe’s cultural treasure for paying Church members, but to see themselves as driving forces to inspire and enable the faithful to follow and be disciples of Christ in their respective social places," said the President of the Bonifatiuswerk Heinz Paus.
Under the motto of "Heritage has a future", the Bonifatiuswerk had initiated a large number of projects which have had an impact that reaches far beyond national borders. The ecumenical ringing of bells combined with a prayer for peace, in which more than 1,700 parishes, facilities, institutions and private bell owners in German-speaking countries took part, was well received throughout Europe.