European bishops mark 30th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall

You have to see to believe, I saw it!  by Catholic News Service, in NCR, Nov 7, 2019 

People stand atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate in this Nov. 10, 1989, file photo. Catholic bishops from the European Union marked 30 years since the breaching of the Berlin Wall with tributes to those who worked for peaceful change, as well as warnings against resurgent "ideologies behind the building of walls." (CNS/Reuters/David Brauchli) bridges to unite divided families and nations, not walls to divide them into conflicting factions (Pope Francis) is the message of the breaking down of the Berlin wall on Nov. 9, 1989, thirty years ago. Unfortunately, US President Trump stands as the  lone counter force to humanity’s call for unity, cooperation and peace in today’s world reduced to a global village through instant communications.

To grasp the radical change the fall of the wall has brought to Germany one should have visited Berlin before wall was destroyed. This scribe had that opportunity in 1964 while doing his diploma course in Rome at the Jesuit Centre for Sociology.  

Stidy tour of East & West Europe

As part of the course the  Centre had organized a one week study tour of West and East European hot spots of human labour and their woking conditions. I did the Sociology course precisely because my  late Archbishop Louis Mathias had sent me for higher studies to become the Editor of the century old weakly New Leader of Madras (Chennai). 

I rember crossing  the Berlin wall in 1964, a grim threatening fortress with gunmen atop the wall on different locations to shoot anyone trying to sneak out into West Berlin. There I visited the  Lenin Alley and Karlmarx Alley in East Berlin, all deserted and people afraid to speak to foreigners. So too were the shopkeepers, who saw me, an Indian, with a camera, not so costly but not easily available in East Berlin. The whole atmosphere in East Berlin was that of the inside of a prison. 

People appeared trapped in Prison!

No space and time to write too many anecdotes to describe the deathlike expressions writ large on the face of people I met in East Berlin then. Thank God, gone are those days, but not their memory and the injury inflicted on their psyche due to years of separation from their loved family members in the West. I could grasp it better since many of professors at the Sociology institute were themselves Russians. 

Walls of division for domination  through conflict and war are manmade, not God-made, for believers. It is not even for believers in a humane humanity, but only for those who degenerate themselves to brutes in the wilds. Stop being irrational animals, it is suicidal; start being enlightened torchbearers to build a heaven of light, love and peaceful heaven on earth.  james kottoor, editor CCV.

Please read below European Bishops on Berlin Wall!

BRUSSELS — Catholic bishops from the European Union marked 30 years since the breaching of the Berlin Wall with tributes to those who worked for peaceful change, as well as warnings against resurgent "ideologies behind the building of walls."

"The fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the most important events in European history of the last decades, a moment full of emotion," the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, or COMECE, said in a Nov. 6 statement. "But not all the expectations that the fall of the wall brought forth have been fulfilled. It is also true that the ideologies behind building the wall have not fully disappeared in Europe and are still present today in different forms."

The statement said the Berlin Wall had symbolized "the ideological division of Europe and the whole world," adding that its breaching during mass protests Nov. 9, 1989, had "opened the way for regaining freedom" after communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe.

"Having been separated by a concrete wall for more than 28 years, people — relatives, friends and neighbors — living in the same city were able to meet each other, celebrate and express their joy and hopes. From this moment the world looked different," said the document, signed by representatives of 26 bishops' conferences.

"We acknowledge the process of healing and reconciliation is delicate and difficult. Even today, for some of the victims of the oppressive regimes of the past, this process is far from completed. … Yet we want to revive and foster those signs of hope, those expectations for a better future that guided that historic moment."

The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 with watchtowers, anti-vehicle trenches and a mined "death strip," divided the communist-ruled East Germany from West Germany and symbolized the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

In 1989, democratic changes in Poland and Hungary fueled civil unrest in East Germany, which culminated with a Nov. 9 government announcement that citizens could now travel west. Demolition of the already damaged wall began officially in June 1990 and was completed in November 1991.

COMECE urged Christians to devote themselves "to a Europe moved by the Holy Spirit" but cautioned that they needed a "genuine capacity to listen first."

"The fall of the Berlin Wall is not only a past event to be celebrated but also has a prophetic dimension — it has taught us constructing walls between people is never the solution," the bishops said.

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