“…Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.” — Article 17 TFEU
I pray for the EU. I pray for its leaders, its member states, its people. I pray for its role on the world stage. I hope and work for its betterment. I pay my taxes. I abide by the laws. True to St Peter’s intentions: I fear the emperor(s).
But I am rather glad that I also get to contribute to the conversation of the running of the EU. As a member of the Church of England, I have legal permission to engage with EU level issues through the collective voice of my church. It is a level of engagement that many people around the world don’t have with their governments. It is not merely a privilege; it is a responsibility. Having been given the gift of a specific voice, not merely as a citizen, but as an identified citizen, a citizen who lives a certain life, if I did not speak, then I would be betraying that right and all those without it.
Article 17 is a carte blanche for conversation between the EU and the churches, as it were. Yet, in order to speak, to have a conversation, the conversation must take place in a common language, or else the parties are merely talking past and over each other and never at and with. The churches cannot and should not expect the EU to speak in their language, though. There are many religions in the EU, so to speak just in the “Christian” language — if only one such language exists — would be unjust to the others. It is the role of the churches to speak the language of the EU.
This permission is part of my own inspiration to write this blog. Eventually, I will be reflecting on EU policies theologically, joining in the conversation. This is mainly to be a resourceful for young professionals in the Institutions, who have some sort of faith yet do not get the opportunity to apply or reflect on it often. I hope they are able to translate it into the appropriate language, whether that is economic, social, or another area of EU policy. I will begin to do some of that, but not all of it.
Having been invited into conversation, let us who are the churches speak. Let us speak with clarity, with wisdom, and with conviction. We have much to say on so many issues, especially if we believe that God has moral expectations of us. Let us also speak to be understood, not with virulence nor with sectarianism, but with compassion and seeking solidarity. And let us speak because many cannot, and let us speak as Christ has done, with love and for the least of these.