CEC/KEK: European Religious Leaders meet with Presidents Barroso and Schssel (30 may 2006)
European Religious Leaders meet with Presidents Barroso and Schüssel.
The contribution of the Churches and religious communities to the European integration process was at the centre of the discussions of religious leaders with the President of the European Council, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, at a meeting on 30 May 2006 in Brussels.
“We have come together in order to discuss what is at the heart of the European project: efforts towards peace, reconciliation and cooperation. Together we have to develop a vision of Europe which is not solely based on economic competitiveness, but a vision of human dignity, solidarity and justice not only for Europe, but for the whole world,” said Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC).
The Rt Rev. and Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, emphasised the need for religious communities to articulate their contribution to the European project through engaging in “the disciplines of rational debate and conversation”. “Merely invoking universal principles and ethical generalities”, he added, “does not produce the energy necessary to produce a civilised ethos. The energy for mutual respect comes from sharing experiences together and developing a story rich in common narratives. Energy is created within relationships and all faiths are engaged in this vital work”.
A highlight of this meeting was the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who visits the Buddhist community in Belgium this week.
Representatives of CEC used the occasion to hand over to the European Commission a contribution to the period of reflection on the Future of Europe (*). Earlier on CEC encouraged its member Churches to engage in national discussion processes. The Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in September 2007 (www.eea3.org) will be the point at which the Churches’ involvement and contribution will be finally evaluated.
The CEC representatives also issued invitations to the President and members of the European Commission to a dialogue with Church leaders scheduled for December 2006 on “Values, Identity and Religion” as a contribution to the debate on the future of Europe.
Both the CEC President and the Bishop of London travelled directly from the meeting of the CEC Central Committee in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland, to the meeting with Chancellor Schüssel, President Barroso and other members of the European Commission. It was the second meeting of this kind in the process of the “open, transparent and regular dialogue” between the European Commission and religious leaders referred to in article I-52 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Also attending from among the CEC constituency were Rev. Rüdiger Noll, Associate General Secretary and Director of the Church and Society Commission of CEC; Bishop Wolfgang Huber, Chairperson of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany; H.E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Ecumenical Patriarchate; H.E. Athanasios, Bishop of Achaia, Church of Greece; and H.E. Hilarion, Bishop of Vienna and Austria, Russian Orthodox Church.
(Conference of European Churches – Press Release 30 May 2006)
(*) Vedi News del 17 maggio: Church and Society Commission: Europe Day – European Churches welcomed “Plan D” for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate (9 may 2006)
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 125 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 associated organisations. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
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