Steps on the Hard Road to Civilization

Published April 1, 1993

That is why, with vigilance but also in solidarity with initiatives and advances which help man grow, the Church rejoices at everything which in recent months has represented a peaceful victory over violence and disorder.

In Europe, despite the uncertainties mentioned earlier, a new chapter in the history of the continent opened on 1 January. With the single market coming into effect, a good many Europeans have gained a heightened awareness that they form one family, sharing values coming from their recent and more distant history. This is important, because the future cannot rest solely on the bases of the economy and trade. Let us hope that, centuries-old conflicts having become a thing of the past, solidarity and a sense of community will be established once and for all. From now on, thanks to common structures and permanent mechanisms of concerted action, life will be more harmonious for much of Europe.

In this context, I would like to encourage the two new European countries which saw the light of day on 1 January: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. May the peaceful character of the dissolution of the former Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, the result of persevering dialogue, be a good omen for the development of each of the two new States and for the quality of their mutual relations!

Farther away from us, peace efforts have succeeded, as in Angola, where we hope that the difficulties of recent days will not endanger the gains of the peace accord signed in Lisbon on 31 May 1991. The choice of the voters must be respected by all! This sorely-tried people, whom I had the joy of visiting recently, is waiting for peace. They deserve it! The fratricidal conflicts which are devastating certain regions will bring victory to no one. They will only serve to exhaust the fragile human and moral resources of a country which had nevertheless taken the right path.

Again in Africa, in Mozambique the negotiations happily concluded in Rome allow us to hope that the parties concerned will from now on act as partners in national dialogue and together carry forward the process of pacification and democratization desired by all Mozambicans. No one can do that for them.

One cannot help but rejoice at seeing the desire of the African peoples to build their societies on new bases whereby exercising the right to opinion and to initiate legislation makes it possible to transform the political profile of the whole continent. Even though at times the changes which have begun are still disappointing, it is none the less true that the movement towards democracy is irreversible. In this new Africa, it is important that the central role should be left to the population, which must be able to participate fully in development. For this purpose, the population needs regional and international cooperation to help to prevent crises on the one hand, and for this cooperation to support the process of democratization as well as economic growth on the other.

In Asia, Cambodia has gradually emerged from its isolation and begun its reconstruction, thanks to the persevering efforts of the United Nations Organization and friendly countries. The commitments made in the Paris Accords mapped out a path which can lead to true democracy and national reconciliation. It should not happen that new difficulties call everything into question. Peace will not be viable unless yesterday’s foes are inspired today by a sincere desire for peace. Let us hope that this country too, which has suffered so much, can benefit from the long-term aid of unfailing international solidarity.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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