The unique role of churches in shaping the future of Europe was the highlight of a seminar organised by CEC in co-operation with the United Protestant Church in Belgium.
The event was held on 13 December in Brussels and was part of a process initiated by an Open letter on the Future of Europe issued by the CEC Governing Board in June 2016 and followed by a series of national and regional consultations across the continent. The letter received a significant response from CEC Member Churches and Partner Organisations.
The dialogue initiated by the Open letter is part of the preparations for CEC 2018 General Assembly in Novi Sad, which will be the focal point of the discussion process.
At the event, CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen welcomed Belgian church representatives. “The contribution of the local churches in Belgium is pertinent given their extensive ecumenical experience and their engagement with the European Union institutions,” he said.
Rev. Steven Fuite of the United Protestant Church in Belgium shared with the participants that “the local churches can support how people raise their voices on ethical questions and engage in a process that addresses the challenges faced by all Europeans from around the continent.”
Rev. Dr Peter Pavlovic presented an overview of the Future of Europe process. He summarized the challenges Europe is facing nowadays and underlined in particular the role of churches in public space and in a dialogue with politics, values underpinning the European Project, as well as the role of theology as a discourse.
“Contributions of churches are crucial in building a community of values in Europe,” he said.
The participants of the seminar agreed on an important role religion plays in modern society. They also underlined the significance of religion to counter violence and fundamentalism. In particular, that the economy has to be much more responsive to the needs of all people. An important role of the churches nowadays is to point out the injustices, the situation of those living on the margins, polarisation and growing social divisions in European societies.
The summary and findings of the consultations on Future of Europe will be presented at the 2018 General Assembly.