One of the core values of ECPYouth as defined in the draft Odessa Declaration is ‘catholicity’. In this blog, Member of the Working Group Politics Natalie Tsirmpas (Greece) explains what this means. Read the whole Odessa Declaration Draft Version for GA here.
As a Greek I love pointing out words that have Greek roots. The word “catholic” is no exception. It comes from the Greek word “katholikos” which means “throughout the whole”; a combination of the Greek words “kata” which means “about”, and “olos” which means “whole”. “So there you go!”
The word came to be used in an ecclesiastical setting in order to emphasise the universal scope of the Church and the message it proclaims. Catholicity means that God’s Truth is one and the same, irrespective of national and cultural boundaries, and so is the Church. And it doesn’t stop there. This “catholic” Truth grows to affect everyone. It reaches and influences individual people’s lives all around the world and inevitably influences and changes societies.
European societies have historically been influenced and shaped by this “catholic” Truth. It has been the one to provide the fertile ground for the culture of human rights and the respect for human dignity to grow into a universal fait accompli. The Statute of the Council of Europe, speaks of “the spiritual and moral values which are [a] common heritage […] and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy”.
European societies consist of people of different backgrounds and cultures, from various countries, and who hold different beliefs. Variety can even be observed among Christians. But our faith is based and built upon the same Truth, which can be found in God’s Word. As disciples we have the privilege of knowing the Bible, and we are called to live our faith in our personal lives and as active members of a community. We are not called to have an introverted faith, but we are called to worship God and share the Gospel publicly. And this is what can bring about the effect of an even stronger bond and sense of unity between Christians! We are members of the same indivisible body of Christ. Our faith is the one that breeds broad-mindedness, inclusiveness and a respect for diversity. Our common faith in Christ is the basis upon which we can find true unity.
Europe’s official motto is “in varietate concordia”. Being “united in diversity” is a noble ideal. But unfortunately Europe today is not living this out. Tribalism is on the rise and intolerance is increasing. In this respect, as Christians, we can be the change that Europe needs. By being united as the body of Christ, we can become sources of love and we can truly respect people’s differences. We can therefore be the ones to bring this catholicity into society by following the Bible’s teachings and loving as Christ loves. Catholicity is the basis of true unity in diversity.