Press Release No: 19/25 issued jointly with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences
21 November 2019
Inspired by the biblical premise of Isaiah 51:9 “Awake, awake, put on strength!” the Joint Committee of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE)  affirmed hope in addressing Europe’s challenges.
The theme of the meeting “Living Hope in Europe today” made the participants discuss topics related to rising populism and developing cooperation between CEC and CCEE.
The meeting opened by Rev. Christian Krieger, President of CEC and His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of CCEE, was held from 18 to 19 November in Brussels, Belgium.
“This has been an immensely positive and fruitful encounter, where reflections and responses on the issue of rising populism from various Christian perspectives emerged,” said Rev. Krieger.
“We are hoping these responses will be stronger in future and will manifest in a common statement we are working on. We feel deeply inspired by our meeting’s theme, and we will continue to walk together in hope and witness for the common and better future of Europe,” he added.
“We have also decided to work on a common celebration for the 20th Anniversary of the Charta Œcumenica , a joint CEC-CCEE document, signed by the two organisations in 2001. It seeks to preserve and develop fellowship among churches,” said Rev. Krieger.
“The meeting between CEC and CCEE, has strengthened relations of friendship and mutual esteem among Christians of various confessions in Europe,” said Cardinal Bagnasco. “The shared analysis of the challenges of the continent and possible pastoral responses will continue and become more intense. This will enable us to offer the Europe of nations a more impactful contribution.”
“The proclamation of Jesus Christ, our reconciliation and Prince of peace, overcomes any drift towards discouragement or thrust towards division or closure. We believe that the spirit of the meeting that was rooted in the Gospel and mutual exchange is able to thaw any suspicion or fear, which hinders us from opening up to others. We wish to spread the joy of walking together in mutual respect and for the building of the civilization of love of all and for all, so that Europe may really be a home for peoples,” Cardinal Bagnasco added.
At the meeting, Rev. Prof. Dietrich Werner, Senior Advisor for Theology, Ecumenical Education and Research, Bread for The World, made a presentation about understanding the rise of populism in Europe and churches’ response, and Rt Rev. Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, CEC Vice-President and Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union made theological responses on the topic.
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