On June 27, 2017, the European Parliament, under the patronage of his President Antonio Tajani, convened a dialogue with representatives of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities on the future of Europe under the general theme: The Future of Europe – Reflections for the European Union by 2025. 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 Conference of European Churches’ (CEC) Open Letter and consultation “What Future for Europe?”.
EU officials responsible such as, 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, while 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, for instance, 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.
Speakers included: Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, Catholic Primate of Luxembourg; Bishop Irja Askola, Bishop of Helsinki, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland; Albert Guigui, 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.
The Director of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, spoke on behalf of the Orthodox. In his brief presentation Dr. Kalaitzidis, provided a theological assessment on the future of the European Union, highlighting the need of the latter to be understood beyond the dominant idea of a union defined mainly by financial rules or austerity measures. In this light the common values of the European edifice, such as freedom, solidarity and social justice, rooted also in its Christian cultural heritage, must return again to the fore of the public debate, in order for Europe to be able to address the current multifaceted crisis. Dr. Kalaitzidis further stressed the relevance of solidarity as a biblical category, which could decisively contribute to the well-being of the European people. As he aptly put it “there can be no plan about the Future of Europe without raising the discussion on common European values.” You can read Dr Kalitzidis' paper here.
For more information please visit the official website of CEC on which this press release was also based.\