Ever since the meeting of Alexis Tsipras and Walter Baier with Pope Francis in September 2014, the contents of this proposal have been clearly focused on war and peace, poverty and social justice, ways out of the ecological crisis, and a humanistic approach to the immigration crisis.
In Vienna, an international group of experts met at the headquarters of transform!europe, the think tank of the Party of the European Left, to explore the possibility of a university dialogue course with 2020 as its target date.
The advocates of this ambitious project are the Istituto Universitario Sophia – which is a component of the pontifical universities network – the Greek University of the Aegean Sea, and transform! europe. The participants came from Greece, Italy, Belgium, and Austria; written contributions were sent by French and German academics.
In the framework of a growing dialogue between Christians and members of the political left, which began some years ago, the first step planned are two summer schools in which teachers and students will first and foremost explore spaces for dialogue. In a subsequent phase the work will have to go beyond European challenges and involve experimenting with and practicing a dialogue that transcends current world outlooks.
Ever since the meeting of Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, and Walter Baier, Austrian coordinator of transform! europe, with Pope Francis on 18 September 2014, the contents of this proposal have been clearly focused on war and peace, poverty and social justice, ways out of the ecological crisis, and a humanistic approach to the immigration crisis that these phenomena have unleashed.
The European course intends to educate and train participating students to think about and build a Europe of bridges and not walls. In this framework, politics, the economy, and all areas of social life are to be at the service of people and communities whose citizens construct their future in freedom, equality, solidary fraternity, and through democratic participation, without neglecting Europe’s responsibility towards the world.
On the initiative of Greece’s Minister of Education, Kostas Gavroglou, the first Summer School will be held in September 2018 in one of the locations of the University of the Aegean on the island of Syros. To this end, Alexandra Bounia, the University’s Vice-Rector, participated in the Vienna meeting.
The Vienna meeting followed a series of previous meetings and seminars held among representatives of the Vatican and the think tank of the Party of the European Left. In March 2017, by invitation of Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, two representatives of the Marxist left, Michael Löwy (sociologist and philosopher at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique/CNRS in Paris) and Walter Baier, took part in a meeting promoted by the Catholic University of Milan, at its Brescia location, on the theme of 50 years of Populorum Progressio. Two more seminars took place at the headquarters of the Istituto Universitario Sophia, endorsed by the Focolare Movement. Last April’s seminar was dedicated to Pope Francis’s message on non-violence pronounced on the occasion of the 50th World Day of Peace on 1 January 2017.
The committees formed in Vienna will begin their work in the summer months and meet at Castelgandolfo in the fall; the next meeting will include an intervention by Msgr. Zani who will highlight the project’s challenges and opportunities from a European educational perspective.
Franz Kronreif, July 2017