Today senior Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Mormon leaders gathered for the 13th annual high-level meeting with the European institutions. It was held at the invitation of European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and European Parliament First Vice President Mairead McGuinness, this time focusing on “The Future of Europe: a value-based and effective Union”.
CEC Vice-President H. E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France said that “Europe will remain a dynamic continent as long as it looks to the future, that is to say attached to this "practical solidarity" to inspire a political vision of mutual freedom, equality, fraternity common to all its members.“
He continued that “this vision of a European shared house is that of the Conference of European Churches”.
Participants discussed a range of concerns relating to the future of the continent including how to shape a cohesive Europe with common values, ignorance in relation to radicalisation and how to best follow up on grand sounding declarations. Speakers from the United Kingdom expressed their fear of a non-Europe following the Brexit referendum last year.
On the topic of this gathering Timmermans noted that "the internal market, the common currency and so forth are tools to work towards common values". He noted that “common values are key to our present and our future” and encouraged the religious leaders in their work in sharing values, respecting differences and fostering mutual understanding.
During the meeting it was agreed that during 2018 an event with young people of faith from across Europe will be convened by the European institutions.
At a press conference following the event, representatives from the churches in Europe urged all to avoid the simplification of difficult challenges and to be open to dialogue with those who disagree following examples from Christian scripture and tradition. They concluded that Christian organisations are not interest groups but working for all of Europe.
Full List of Participants:
- Imam Seyran ATEŞ, Founder of the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque in Berlin
- Metropolitan CLEOPAS of Sweden and all Scandinavia, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- Elder Massimo DE FEO, Europe area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints
- Mr Ron EICHHORN, President of the European Buddhist Union
- Metropolitan EMMANUEL of France, Vice-President of the Conference of European Churches, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- Rabbi Albert GUIGUI, Chief Rabbi of Brussels
- Bishop Jean-Claude HOLLERICH, Archbishop of Luxembourg
- Imam Tareq OUBROU, Grand Imam of Bordeaux
- Ms Irmgard SCHWAETZER, President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD)
- Bishop Noel TREANOR, Bishop of Down and Connor
- Archbishop Urmas VIILMA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia