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F O R E W O R D Javier Prades In a Connected World I recently had the opportunity to travel to Angola for reasons related to my work at the university. My hosts took advantage of the moments of rest to tell me about some educational and charitable works in so-called barrios, the dry and dusty suburbs of the city of Benguela. For a European like me, every opportunity to travel in Africa or Latin America generates a wide range of sensations. Certainly I feel nostalgia towards the freshness of a simpler way of life, free from the adulteration of what Augusto Del Noce has called our affluent society. I also envy the simplicity of a faith rooted in everyday life, able to sustain the effort and the suffering of so many privations, so different from the tormented and problematic faith that we know well. In people , especially in children, you can perceive the echo of a joy that is not easy to recognize in European societies. On the other hand, and with the same force, the precariousness of this life provokes a feeling of injustice. It is undeniable that without the necessary human, cultural, economic, and social resources, these forms of society, exposed to profound and rapid changes, can get lost or become further impoverished.The solidity and density of Europe’s ix social, cultural, and economic life—even with all its wounds—seems to demonstrate its unique strength in human history. Indeed, the fresh and moving faith of these people is quite exposed to the antihumanist currents that exert so much influence in the West and from the West, the effects of which can already be seen in their societies. These contrasts, which strike us when we travel outside Europe, recall the distinguished thinkers that have concluded that our culture has lost its way and cannot find effective remedies to recover the path. From Glucksmann to Habermas or Manent, they draw our attention to a divided West, fighting with itself, exhausted. Perhaps that is why, in the course of the twentieth century, many Europeans have come to question the value of the fruits of the civilization into which they were born. Nonetheless, we note a desire to not lose this precious European heritage of civilization and humanity, whose richness is almost unparalleled in history, a heritage that permits us, among other things, to speak today of “the person.” We Europeans now seem to glimpse the end of an economic crisis that has been both profound and painful for millions of our fellow citizens . On the one hand, it has brought out with particular intensity that feeling of weariness and exhaustion I mentioned, as if a deep malaise were lodged in our hearts. Secondly, the same crisis offers us the opportunity to begin again, to change, to try to improve. It is up to us to discern the situation in which we find ourselves, together with the possible solutions. What is happening to Europeans? And, especially, what is happening to European Christians? I never stop posing these questions to the churchmen, academics, and people of culture, both believers and agnostics or atheists, whom I meet. It is not easy to translate the answer into a fully determined path, but the trail map that we hear Julián Carrón propose in the first part of this book will lead us along the “interrupted paths”—in the words of Martin Heidegger— of our society. The European Malaise Our starting point is that in Western society a real malaise has surfaced . What is the task that lies ahead, imposed upon us by the x Foreword episodes that strike us most painfully? It is precisely to properly interpret this malaise, which is expressed in ambiguous and often ideological ways. If we do not wish to close ourselves off from reality, we must seriously take this condition into account. In my opinion, this malaise cannot be explained simply by the economic factors of the crisis, as serious as they have become in recent years. Think, for example, of the deep demographic crisis in Europe, with the dramatic decline in birth rates and the obvious difficulties in integrating immigrants. As known observers—from Böckenförde to Pérez Díaz—have lucidly noted, there is a moral and cultural subtext to the crisis in institutional participation we are experiencing. In addition , in order to identify the nature of the crisis we must understand it as a symptom of the ultimately infinite...


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