‘We need an ecological conversion’
With this quotation from John Paul II, the President in exercise of the EU Council, the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, summarized the 4th annual meeting of the EU institutions’ leaders with the Church and Religious representatives in Europe this Monday in Brussels. The Church and Religious leaders affirmed a shared responsibility with political leaders on the future of the planet.
Recalling that the Bible speaks of ‘creation’ rather than of ‘nature’, Cardinal Franc Rodé (Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life) considered that it is difficult to feel responsible for ‘nature’, a concept referring to endless resources. The concept of ‘creation’ however evokes the responsibility of mankind.
He emphasised that ‘In the present world, we are called to an ascetic and unpretentious way of living in order to preserve the creation’s resources and share them with the poorest populations’. H.E Anders Harald Wejryd, (Primate of the Lutheran Church of Sweden) added that it was a duty of Religions to engage in combating climate change, since this issue raises questions of ‘moral, justice and equity’. Since Churches propose a perspective of Hope on a long term perspective, religions can help to take the challenge of climate change which is often obscured by apparently insurmountable difficulties.
Bishop Adrianus Van Luyn, President of COMECE, suggested that, alongside the High Representative for External Affairs, a High Representative for Future Generations should be appointed by the European Union and that both officers be made Vice-Presidents of the European Commission. “This would go a long way towards sending a clear signal of our hopes for a Europe that will demonstrate solidarity beyond geographical and temporal border” he indicated.
A propos the second theme of the meeting “Reconciliation between peoples”, Bishop Van Luyn also suggested that the future External service of the EU, which will be implemented by the application of the Lisbon Treaty, be given a “department for dialogue with religions” and that the service’s diplomats be briefed about religions and inter-religious dialogue as part of their training.
The President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso, suggested that, in its fight against the clash of civilisations, Europe should base its own identity on diversity, “a reconciled diversity”. Considering that Intercultural Dialogue is an ongoing process, Mr Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, expressed his hope that the EU institutions pursue this dialogue with the Faith communities throughout the year, anticipating thereby the application of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU which stipulates an “open, transparent and regular” Dialogue with Churches in the article 17 of its consolidated version.
21 participants representing the monotheistic religions in Europe participated in this meeting, together of the President of the European Commission, the President of the EU Council and the President of the European Parliament.