‘Christian Europe – between faith and politics’
Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski
The question concerning the truth is the fundamental question of ‘to be or not to be’ of contemporary culture and civilisation. On no account can one give up this question. ‘If one stops asking about the truth’, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said, ‘the essence of religion will not differ from its negation, faith from superstition and experience from illusion.’ Man continuously seeks the truth. His whole life is turned to it and at the same time there is nothing that exposes him to the temptation of doubt more than the possibility of learning the truth. ‘Man is called to «be from the truth», to «live in the truth». This fundamental status of humanity is expressed in testifying to the truth’ (John Paul II).
The quoted words of the Polish Pope and of Cardinal Ratzinger – Benedict XVI – introduced the core of the subjects discussed during the Third International Scientific Conference ‘Man – Faith – Culture’, organised by the Theological Institute and the Institute of Foreign Philologies at the Jan Dlugosz Academy in Czestochowa, held on 4-6 May 2010. The words led to the discussion on the theme, ‘Seeking the Truth. Christian Europe – Between Faith and Politics’.
During the conference the participants referred to the teaching of John Paul II whose thoughts had accompanied us in the previous conferences: the first one was held in 2003 and was dedicated to the theme, ‘Roads and Crossroads of the Culture of Christian Europe’ and the second one was held in 2006, focusing on ‘The Heritage of the Christian East and West – Between Memory and Expectation.’
The Polish Pope was a man who was actively involved in discussion on the political face of the world and especially Europe after the fall of the totalitarian systems. During his speech delivered in the Polish Parliament in Warsaw on 11 June 1999 the Holy Father warned against the threat of negating human rights in the name of political interests, against conducting politics without considering the moral reference that is faith, and against depriving man of the ability of discerning the truth. John Paul II taught that ‘if there is no ultimate truth, being the guidance for political activities and defining their directions, it is easy to instrumentalise ideas and convictions for the aims, which those in power choose’ and ‘history teaches that democracy without value easily changes into open or camouflaged totalitarianism.’
The topics of this year’s conference evoked big interests of national and international scientific circles. The three day conference gathered 95 scientists from all big environments in Poland, Germany, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. During the plenary sessions and fifteen group meetings they discussed the subject of the truth in theology, religion, art and literature. They asked about the truth in the media and the truth facing the ideology and experience of totalitarianism. The conference participants reflected on the areas of dialogue between faith and politics, the ecumenical questions, the heroism of man of faith confronting politics as well as religious fundamentalism and its political effects.
‘To become a Christian it is not enough to mentally accept certain truths of the faith without any personal involvement. A Christian lives by the truth only when he tries to assimilate it continuously, when he lets it change him’, the outstanding biblical scholar Rev. Prof. Antoni Tronina from the Catholic University of Lublin, reminded the gathered.
Prof. Irina Jazykowa from St Andrew Biblical-Theological Institute in Moscow pointed to the icon as a form of spiritual opposition to the godless epoch. The journalist Joachim Jauer from the German public TV ZDF presented the role of Christians in the political transformations in Central-Eastern Europe in the 1980s. In turn Prof. Lucjan Suchanek from the Jagiellonian University began the discussion with the question, ‘Is truth possible in the contemporary political systems and ideologies?’
The conference included questions and responses, appositions and discussions as well as personal contacts and it traditionally coincided with the ‘Gaude Mater’ International Festival of Sacral Music. It was held under the patronage of the Catholic Weekly ‘Niedziela’.
The Third International Scientific Conference ‘Man – Faith – Culture’ became another occasion to meet and share thoughts for all those who cared for the sources of learning the truth and various ways of seeking the truth.