Address given by The Right Reverend Tom Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, at the 'Come Together' city vigil at St George's Hall, Liverpool on 5 July:
The Church is very careful not to interfere in politics, but now that the 'Outs' have won, there is a real need for a loud voice and a new humanism to be proclaimed by those who contribute most to the ongoing work of uniting Europe in mind and heart – and our city can play a central and essential part in that renewed vision.
With mind and heart, with hope and without nostalgia, our city can be like a son or daughter who rediscovers their roots of life and faith. I dream of a new European humanism that can blossom in our city – one that involves a constant work of humanisation and calls for all of us to have a sound and human utopian vision. I dream of a city that is young, still capable of being a mother – a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life.
I dream of a city, and a Europe, that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor – and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter. I dream of a city, a Europe, that is attentive to and concerned for the sick and elderly – lest they may be set aside as useless. I dream of a city, a Europe, where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.
I dream of a city where young people breathe the pure air of honesty; where they love the beauty of a strong and vibrant culture and a simple life undefiled by insatiable consumerism; where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment. I dream of a city of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers – on birth rates rather than rate of consumption.
I dream of a city that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all. I dream of a city, a Europe, about which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.
Our city can give birth to a new humanism based on our creativity – our genius and capacity for rebirth and renewal – an essential part of the heart of this country, of Europe and the world. We have a wonderful but often tragic history as a city. We have played our part in the world's most tragic conflicts and traumas for the last two centuries – culminating in the most horrific war ever known – but the ruins and ashes of our city's history have made us a city of survivors, whose ardent hope and love of life has never been extinguished. We can and must continue to lay the foundation for a bastion of peace – a free commitment to the common good and a definitive end to confrontation.
We, our faith communities – like Europe itself, so long divided and on opposite sides – should now find our true self and begin to build our house. We are a family of peoples. We must continue to remember our past. We must continue to integrate with one another and, especially, there is one word we should never tire of repeating: dialogue. We are all called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means – and thus be a beacon to every city in our nation to rebuild the fabric of society. We must respect foreigners, the immigrant and people from different cultures, for they are all worthy of listening to.
As Pope Francis said recently, "We urgently need to engage all the members of our society in building a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter in creating a means of building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society."
Finally – young people – they are not the future of our city, they are the present. Even now, with their dreams and their lives, they are forging a spirit of our city and of Europe. We cannot look to the future without offering them the real possibility to be catalysts of change and transformation. We cannot envision our city – or Europe – without letting them be participants and protagonists in this dream. We are a city weary, yet still rich in energies and possibilities. The Church and faith communities must play their part: our task is part of our mission to proclaim the Gospel – which today more than ever finds expression in going forth to bind the wounds of humanity with the powerful, yet simple presence of Jesus and his mercy that consoles and encourages.
God desires to dwell in our midst, but He can only do so through men and women like ourselves – and our great heroes and heroines of the past who have made, and continue to make, great sacrifices with their roots in a powerful humanism inspired and rooted in the pure water of the Gospel. This is a great opportunity for this great city to not only survive but to show the world.