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SCENARIO / Scola: How Libya and North Africa can "remake" Europe

March Wed 30, 2011

Cardinal Angelo Scola  (photo Imago Economica)  Cardinal Angelo Scola (photo Imago Economica)

At the Angelus yesterday, Benedict XVI made an appeal "to those who have political and military responsibilities for the immediate initiation of a dialogue, which suspends the use of weapons." "May peace return as soon as possible for these people and further tragedies be stopped",  Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, tells ilsussidiario.net , "means to object strongly that every death is one too many. But peace is not an automatic utopia, it is necessary to build it every day in reality." "We in Europe," Scola explains, "are victims of a strong presumption. We think we know how to evaluate and solve problems without taking into account the testimony of those who live in these situations." Starting with the Christians in those lands. And there is not only the important issue of participation and democracy, but also of the transformation of Islam.  This is a challenge which involves the spiritual contours of European identity, and of Italy in particular, the hinge between north and south.

"I ask God to obtain that a horizon of peace and concord may dawn as soon as possible on Libya and on the entire region of North Africa," Benedict XVI said at the Angelus on Sunday, March 20. In what sense can one speak of peace when the policy is to take direct action to save the people from tyranny?

To speak of peace in these circumstances means, of course, to demand that armed violence, even in this case, would end and give way to negotiation, that peace return as soon as possible for these people and to halt further tragedies; to object strongly means that every death is one too many. But peace is not an automatic utopia;  it is necessary to build it every day in reality. Therefore, to obtain peace, prayer arises, against all skepticism, as an effective tool.

On closer inspection, the gears of realpolitik never seem to respond well to commands.  Why is this?  Is it a lack of "strategy" or a cultural deficit or lacking foresight of some kind?

I am not an expert.  What I can observe is that we Europeans are often victims of a strong presumption. We think we know how to evaluate and solve problems without taking account of the testimony of those who live in these situations. This often prevents us from considering all the factors in play. Many collaborators of Oasis who live in these places these days invite us to make a careful distinction:  the situation in North Africa is different from that of the Middle East, although both of the areas are in turmoil. What is happening is largely an unexpected phenomenon or not foreseen in this way, but it has very different connotations from country to country:  Libya is not Egypt, we know very little about Libya, just as this is radically different from what has happened in Tunisia.  Also what is happening in Syria is different.

And what do you think about Libya, specifically, Your Eminence?



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