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For a future of peace and freedom

· The Pope’s greeting ·

If the Élysée Treaty put an end to the age-old conflict between France and Germany and established the terms of an agreement on collaboration in essential areas, then 50 years later the reasons that led to its signing must be continuously revitalized and renewed “so that what has been achieved together is neither undermined by new challenges and short-sighted by private interests nor abandoned”. Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State, reflected on this crucial topic in a greeting he sent on behalf of Benedict XVI. It was addressed to the conference hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University on Thursday, 7 February, the 50th anniversary of the Treaty, at the initiative of the Embassies of France and of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See. The conference was entitled: “Fifty Years of Franco-German Friendship at the Service of Europe: the European Union, a Model for Reconciliation?”. The text, read by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, emphasized the importance of the exchange of ideas and of the discussions under way. The debate was conducted by Annegret Karmp-Karrenbauer, Minister-President of Saarland, who is also in charge of Franco-German cultural relations for Germany; and by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services.

When historical events are celebrated, paving the way to the possibility of a different future based on dialogue, it is impossible to forget the architects of those agreements, who succeeded in finding a compromise when every attempt at reconciliation had seem destined to fail. This explains why “the personal commitment of the fathers of the Treaty”, Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, is remembered in the text. Even before the agreement was signed — underlined in the greeting — the participation of the two great protagonists of post-war Europe in the Mass of reconciliation in Rheims Cathedral highlighted that “politics is based on principles that it cannot give to itself”. Further, on that same occasion it was quite clear that “natural moral law and the values and human rights shaped by the Gospel are the foundation of a politics that is truly at the service of justice and peace, as well as of the progress of the entire human family”. Many steps have been taken on the path marked out by de Gaulle and Adenauer, but it is essential that we remain alert. We must constantly feed the flame of hope because peace “is an ongoing task that must be accomplished over and over again”.

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Dec. 14, 2019

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