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Churches to the EU: Our future depends on common values
On 27 June, the European Parliament, under the patronage of President Antonio Tajani, convened a dialogue with representatives of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities on the future of Europe.
The high-level dialogue was inspired in part by recent European Parliament resolutions on improving its various treaties and on the 2017 European Commission White Paper on the future of Europe.
Churches are equally invested in these conversations, notably through the COMECE’s upcoming Vatican gathering (Re)thinking Europe and CEC’s open letter and consultation What future for Europe?
EU officials responsible for dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations opened the afternoon’s proceedings. Mairead McGuiness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, offered remarks on the EU’s approach to its own future in uncertain times. She stressed the importance of religious communities in contributing to developing an ever-closer union among the people of Europe.
Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, underscored the identity of the EU as more than a common market. The EU, he noted, is about strengthening understanding through listening to people with whom you agree and also disagree.
Two panel discussions brought together religious contributions on the potential and future of the EU treaty system. Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, Primate of Luxembourg, advocated for a fresh vision for Europe, and that the full potential of the treaties could help develop this new European dream. CEC President Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD called for deeper engagement with the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity, and sovereignty to counter disenchantment about Europe, even among the churches.
Among the diversity of religions, Christian traditions, scholars, and EU representatives gathered, all agreed that faith-based contributions are essential in building up a “soul for Europe” and a European Union bonded by much more than politics and economics.
Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ
Catholic Primate of Luxembourg
Bishop Irja Askola
Bishop of Helsinki, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Prof Pantelis Kalaitzidis
Director of the Orthodox Academy of Volos
Chief Rabbi of Brussels, representative of the Conference of European Rabbis
Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD
President of the Conference of European Churches, Church of England
Mr Khalid Hajji
Secretary-General of the European Council of Moroccan Ulema, President of Brussels Forum of Wisdom and World Peace
Bishop Tamas Fabiny
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary
(Moderator) Ms Mercedes Bresso
Co-rapporteur on the Future of Europe, European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs
(Moderator) Ms Danuta Hübner
Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs
Dialogue seminars take place under Article 17 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees open, regular, and transparent dialogue between the churches and the European Union.
For a complete programme of speakers and panellists, please click here.
COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, is made up of Bishops delegated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the 28 Member States of the European Union. In accordance with its Mission as defined in its Statutes, COMECE monitors the political process of the European Union in all areas of interest to the Church.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from across Europe, plus more than 40 National Council of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.