Press Release No: 17/07
28 March 2017
Yesterday, among friends and colleagues from Brussels and around Europe, the Conference of European Churches celebrated the publication of Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All at the Chapel for Europe. This recent volume from CEC presents a collection of essays from the 2015 conference of the same name, which was held at the closed theological school of Halki in Turkey. The diverse contributions in this volume present legal, theological, and political perspectives on issues relating to freedom of religion or belief.
The book launch provided opportunity to continue the dialogue initiated at Halki, and featured contributions from church and political perspectives. The publication is especially timely given the resurgence of religion as a question on the European political agenda, noted CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “Freedom of religion or belief is an indicative belief,” he remarked, “one that reveals much about the state of society as a whole.”
To open the evening, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Fr Aimilianos Bogiannou, director of the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, describe the importance of Halki for discussing this fundamental human right. The small Turkish island not only lies at the geographic crossroads of Europe and Asia, but underscores the complex intersection between minority and majority religions, secular and faith perspectives, and the meeting of an array of cultures.
CEC President Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD introduced those gathered to CEC’s deep history in this area and drew attention to current concerns. He noted, in particular, CEC’s roots as an organization where human rights were both discussed and enjoyed. In the early decades of its existence, CEC brought together church leaders from Eastern and Western Europe who would otherwise have no opportunity to interact.
These church perspectives were complimented with short reflections from representatives from the European Institutions. Mr Branislav Stanicek, office of the European Commission’s Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, introduced several case studies, including from Iraq and Egypt, to illustrate the complex relationship among freedom of religion, security, and terrorism. Dr Harri Kuhalamp, senior advisor from the office of Dr Hannu Takkula MEP (European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief), spoke to the practical implications of this work and discusses specific actions undertaken by the European Parliament in this area.
For more information on downloading or ordering a print copy of Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All, please visit the Globethics.net website or email CEC Communication Coordinator Erin Green.
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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 National Councils of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.