Representatives of the Churches and religions met with Commission President Barroso
Yesterday the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso met with a group of leaders and representatives of the Christian Churches, Judaism and Islam in Brussels, after which they issued a joint statement.
In light of the recent terror attacks in London, all of the participants highlighted the barbarity of these attacks and denounced the use of religion as a justification for such actions. They discussed the role that the Churches and religious communities play in the European Union and highlighted the importance of the dialogue and interaction which takes place between the two. They further discussed the contribution that the Churches and religious communities make to the promotion of the European project in realising its aims and objectives as a Union of peace and prosperity.
President Barroso recalled the importance of the role that the Churches and religious communities play in society and in the life of the citizen. He particularly highlighted the contribution that the Churches and religious communities make to the public debate on EU policies. Given the present political climate, President Barroso talked of his desire that the Churches and religious communities also participate in this period of discussion and debate on the future direction of the European project.
During the course of this meeting the participants discussed a wide-range of issues inter alia further EU enlargement including the Balkans and Turkey, focusing particularly on the issue of religious freedom, the priorities of the current UK presidency including reference to the successful resolution of the debate on the budget and the European social model, and the importance of inter-religious dialogue in the Barcelona Process and integration issues. A dialogue also took place on ethical issues in European research policy.
President Barroso invited the participants to take part in another similar meeting in six months time having highlighted that Europe is much more than an economic market; it is also a Union of values.
Meeting between President Barroso and religious leaders
Brussels, 12 July 2005
Recent events concerning the ratification of the draft Constitutional Treaty have highlighted the challenges facing the Union.
If there is one common theme running through the various challenges, it is the need for Europe to be able to act in achieving concrete results that meet the concerns of the citizens.
A period of reflection and of debate is needed to enable the citizens to appreciate the significance of the European project and therefore to reconnect Europe with its citizens.
The European Commission, as the guardian and the promoter of the common interest, has a particularly important role to play during this period. It should assist in creating greater trust in Europe, enhance the availability of information and encourage the emergence of a new consensus on what Europe is for. This can only be achieved through a process of open communication and dialogue.
Churches, religious communities and spiritual leaders of the three monotheistic religions bear great responsibility in this process.
On the occasion of the meeting between President Barroso and Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious leaders in Brussels on 12 July 2005, President Barroso and the religious leaders reaffirmed that they are dedicated to building a free, united, prosperous and peaceful Europe characterised by solidarity, where all citizens and nations, regardless of their religion, convictions, language, culture, tradition and ethnic origin, may live together and feel at home united in diversity.
The European Commission and the religious leaders are dedicated to continuing their dialogue to make this common vision of a united Europe a reality.
All participants strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent people in London. No reason, in particular not a religious one, can justify such acts against humanity.
Religious leaders and representatives included:
The Rt. Rev’d & Rt. Hon. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London
His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Homeyer, President of COMECE
Monsignor Noël Treanor, Secretary General of COMECE
Revd Thomas Wipf, Vice President of the Conference of European Churches
Revd Rüdiger Noll, Director of the Church and Society Commission of the CEC
Sir Zaki Badawi, Member of the Board of the European Islamic Conference
Anas Schakfeh, President of the Islamic Communities of Austria
Great Rabbi Aba Dunner, Secretary General of the Conference of European Rabbis
Great Rabbi Albert Guigui, Permanent Representative of the Conference of European Rabbis to the EU
Maram Stern, Permanent Representative of the World Jewish Congress to the EU
His Eminence, Emmanuel Metropolit of France and Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the EU
His Excellency, the Bishop Athanasios of Achaia, Permanent Representative of the Church of Greece to the EU
His Excellency, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Podolsk, Permanent Representative of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch to the EU
Prelate Stephan Reimers, Representative of the Council of the Protestant Churches in Germany to the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union
OKRin Sabine von Zanthier, Permanent Representative of the EKD to the EU
COMECE is a commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the member states of the European Union.