2013 is set to be an important year for both the Catholic Church, which elects a new pope, and Croatia, which will become the 28th member of the European Union (EU), writes Alex Sakalis for openDemocracy. These two entities share a long history, with the former wielding significant, yet often ignored, influence on political life in the latter.
Life in the European Union is one of continuing political negotiation. No political realist is surprised that national leaders constantly seek to protect and advance the interests of their country, says social theologian Dr Graeme Smith. The European Union is the place of permanent dialogue between different interests, and more substantially different political cultures, interestingly mirroring some different Protestant and Catholic instincts. Meanwhile, ecumenical lessons can help us to see why it's negotiation all the way, in a positive sense.
The political ride in Britain, in Europe and more widely is set to get bumpier, sometimes alarming, and never less than fascinating, says Simon Barrow. But the key question remains: who does (and who should?) call the shots in shaping the capacity of our key institutions both to respond to popular pressures and to ride the economic tiger?