In a speech to the diplomatic corps given in Warsaw on 8 June 1991, referring to the political changes taking place in Central and Eastern Europe at that time, John Paul II presented his idea for a future Europe, whose essence is “development of Europe of the spirit”, explaining it in the following manner: “It is especially about defining, in the East and in the West, of a vision of Europe as a spiritual and material whole that requires development and guarantee of security in its entirety. It is about the ability to reach understanding in regional dimensions as well; about the effort to overcome historical prejudices and fears, eliminating their remains following life in closed societies, such as rampant nationalism and intolerance. It is about thinking about the future Europe, despite its surprising uniqueness and overtly political dimension of events, also as the “continent of culture”.
The foundation and bonding element of the future “Europe of the spirit” understood as a socially, politically, culturally and economically spiritual and material whole, the pope perceived in values and traditions “that once shaped Europe and which are capable of uniting it today”. Contemporary Europe, in his opinion, despite the collapse of the visible wall that once separated it, is still divided, even though the wall is invisible. The wall “is made of fear and aggression, lack of understanding for people of different origin and skin colour or of a different religion, […], it is made of political and economic egoism and decreasing sensitivity to the value of human life and the dignity of every human being.” Hence, thinking about the Europe of the future, and at the same time ascertaining the existence of this kind of spiritual division of the European community of nations, he claimed: “the true path to true unification of the European continent is still far away. Europe will not be united until it becomes a community of the spirit. “
Bearing in mind the vision of Europe proposed by John Paul II and the diagnosis of its current condition as well as his inspirational interpretation of the word ‘Europe’ according to which it “should stand for ‘openness’”, the organizers of the conference “Europe and Reconciliation” will make an attempt to analyse both the bright aspects of the past 100 years of Polish experiences in Europe and European experiences of Poland, as well as the murky ones and ways to overcome them in the spirit of the values of social life developed by Catholic social teaching: truth, freedom, justice and love. Poland in Europe and Europe in Poland yesterday, today and in the near and distant future are according to the organizers of the Conference, two perspectives defining the areas of inspiration to build a common Europe.
By postulating that the word “Europe” should also mean “reconciliation”, they will ask about the contribution of Christians of Europe and Poland to the process of mutual reconciliation “opening them up” on both international and national levels, aware that this process is one of the cornerstones and lasting foundations of both the European and Polish community of the spirit.