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   On November 251h and 261h of this year, 2016, the Joan Maragall Foundation - a Barcelona center dedicated to the dialogue between faith and culture - and Obra Social "La Caixa" organized the International Symposium "State and religion and their relationship in today's pluralistic democracies" at the Palau Macaya. This event completed the reflection that the Joan Maragall Board of Trustees has dedicated to a topic that has lately been the object of their concern.

     With this symposium, the Joan Maragall Foundation and the Palau Macaya intend to encourage debate and reflection on today's challenges for religion and the emergence of religious pluralism in democratic societies today, especially in Europe.

     The decision taken by a majority of British voters just two days ago once more shows us the complex and difficult situation of Europe’s state at the moment and the importance of developing a path into the future. The successive crises in the last years, beginning with the breakdown of the financial markets, the near-down crash of finances in EU-memberstates, the illegal occupation of Crimea and the astoundingly increased number of refugees during the last months have not only put to test the European Integration Process, but also led to rising resentments between EU-memberstates as well as between groups within these member-states as well. A first rough analysis of the outcome of the British referendum shows us a division between generations, between the inhabitants of cities and of the countryside, between a « well-to-do » elite, able to find their way in a globalized and interconnected world and all those, who feel abandoned, left behind and who fear a loss of what they have gained or built up the past decennia.

     The historic vote this week by a slim majority of the British people to leave the European Union –the so-called “Brexit” – signals a major political and economic challenge. But the Brexit also has a significant moral significance that goes beyond the UK. How we as nations understand borders, sovereignty, and other peoples speaks volumes to our deeper commitments to peace, solidarity, human rights, and the common good. Indeed, the decision to leave the European Union and the accompanying campaign vitriol against “others”  signals a threat to one of the most important legacies of 20th Century Social Catholicism.

     The grief over the death of two of our fellow (italian) citizens in the confusing battlefield of Libya stoked again the fire of an internal political conflict that expands now without any verbal limits, and fueled a feeling of fear and closure inside our borders. Europe is falling apart, like a giant with clay feet, under the pressure of thousands of men, women, children coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a lot of African countries. By now even the subtle (and often brutal) distinction between refugees and "economic migrants" is no more evoked, in front of the multitudes who camped inside controlled fences.

     The European Union was created as value-based. It was not in the first place an economic project. It was our answer to the cruelty and barbarism of World War II and all the preceding wars. The Union was based on reconciliation between nations and thus, on the restoration of human dignity, and the irreplaceable value of each human person. We renounced revenge. By dehumanizing others inexorably we are dehumanizing ourselves in a never-ending spiral of violence and hate. The EU stopped this fatal evolution.

     That the European Union is today in crisis is a trivial statement. However, I wish to say that the European Union is the world’s greatest political achievement and cannot be compared to anything else. This is great project that required complex economic, institutional activities and enormous political will and vision. We must not waste what was achieved.

     European integration has marked our history for over 60 years. After a long series of wars, she wanted to make it impossible by creating solidarity among peoples. Experience had shown the volatility of intergovernmental treaties while solidarity between peoples could be a more solid foundation. After years of development, now is the opposite occuring. Nationalism develops, rejecting not only religious minorities, migrants, but also other European nations. It is present in the traditionally Catholic nations such as Poland, Hungary, Bavaria ...). The external challenges, financial, commercial or terrorist threats that require solidarity, seem on the contrary to burst it: return of internal borders, separatism .... Can we no longer rely on the solidarity between peoples?

Debate between Dorina, Josep Maria and Michael

- It is a new time in the Church, we need to express our support to the pope and review our priorities as movement.

- Promote pope's address to the EU parliament and Evangelii Gaudium at the national level, but also implement propositions of the pope.

- Sustain a living democracy.

- Not comply with neoliberal vision but be innovative in economics, find ways to reduce inequalities, economic growth is not the only criterium for human life.