The university exchange programme Erasmus is barely mentioned in the business sections of newspapers, yet Erasmus has created the first generation of young Europeans. I call it a sexual revolution: a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children. The Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers. By this, I mean they need to spend time in other countries within the European Union; they should integrate…. When I proposed at a meeting of EU mayors the idea of also introducing Erasmus for craftsmen and professionals, a Welsh mayor said: ‘My citizens would never accept this!’ And when I spoke about this a few days ago on English television, I was slapped down by the anchorman, who was worried about the euro crisis, about a supranational Europe and about the technical governments of Papademos in Greece and Monti in Italy who were not ‘elected’, and are therefore ‘undemocratic’….
Back when Pope Wojtyla was still alive, there was much discussion on whether they should accept the European constitution and the continent’s Christian roots. Secular people predominated and they did nothing about it. The church protested. There was however a third way, more difficult, but one that would give us strength today.
And that would have been to speak of the constitution of all our roots – the Greek-Roman, the Judaic and the Christian. In our past, we have both Venus and the crucifix, the Bible and Nordic mythology, which we remember with Christmas trees, or with the many festivals of St Lucy, St Nicolas and Santa Claus. Europe is a continent that was able to fuse many identities, and yet not confuse them. That is precisely how I see its future.