The Observatory organises a round table on religion in Europe

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The Blanquerna Observatory has organised a round table as part of the 23rd Blanquerna Communication Conference, which this year was entitled “Why Europe”.

(Article taken from Catalunyareligió.cat. Written by: Alba Sabaté)

What role have religions played in the development of the Old Continent? This question was answered this Tuesday at the round table on “The responsibility of religions in the construction of Europe”, held at the Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations, as part of its annual Communication Conference.

Moderated by Jordi Sànchez, a lecturer at the faculty and deputy director of the Blanquerna Observatory of Communication, Religion and Culture, the round table was made up of experts from different denominations: Moriah Ferrús, Jewish and from from the Atid community, Ruth Giordano, an evangelical and associate pastor of the United Church of Terrassa, Dídac Lagarriga-Bilal Ibn Samar, a Muslim writer and journalist, and Antoni Matabosch, a Catholic and honorary president of the Joan Maragall Foundation.

Knowing where we are is knowing where we come from

“Europe’s historical reality is plural and ambivalent; it has shown itself capable of doing the best and the worst,” stated Matabosch. Going back to its origins, the various participants agreed that the history of the old continent has its lights and many shadows.

On the one hand, Evangelical representative Ruth Giordano highlighted the humanitarian work of religions as the most positive contribution. “Social action and charity are the most visible part of religion in Europe”. With regard to Evangelicals in particular, she stressed “the capacity for hospitality and integration”.

For Antoni Matabosch, Christianity has contributed to the concept of the person, “the primacy of being over having”. The Honorary President of the Joan Maragall Foundation also spoke of values such as forgiveness, gratitude, welcome and solidarity as contributions to be taken into account.

From a Jewish perspective, Moriah Ferrús explained that citizenship is the fundamental value of the Jewish people in the construction of Europe. Nevertheless, she wanted to make it clear that “in Europe, the word religion has often been synonymous with war, inquisition or expulsion”.

Where are we heading towards?

Likewise, the Evangelical Giordano stressed that “since time immemorial we have been afraid of the other who does not think like me”, a fear shared by all the speakers, which has many risks and has led to serious crises on the continent. In this sense, we should not go too far back in time. Dídac Lagarriga-Bilal said that at the moment “Europe is suffering from Eurocentrism because it thought it was the epistemological factory of the world”.

Matabosch raised the question of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, which are promoted by Christian values. “We must learn to live together in diversity and respect for the other,” said Giordano. Lagarriga-Bilal stressed that “if we isolate ourselves from others, we isolate ourselves from ourselves”.

Analysing the current context, Ferrús noted that the models of reception that have been used throughout history –such as the French or American models– have not worked and that we need to rethink how we integrate the other. With the refugee crisis very much in mind, the Jewish woman affirmed that people of her faith have a lot to say. “If we have to build a new Europe, we can talk to the Jewish people, who have lived through a lot of destruction and construction”. In fact, Moriah said, “if there is one good thing about hitting rock bottom, it is that we can think about how to get back on our feet”.