MEETING OF REPRESENTATIVES OF ORTHODOX CHURCHES TO THE EUROPEAN UNION

Every year representatives of Orthodox Churches to the European Institutions have agreed to meet in a different place within the jurisdiction of their respective Churches. After their first meeting in Bucharest, in May 2014, they met in Athens from 1- 3 May 2015. At the end of their meeting they issued a Communiqué which follows hereafter.

 

Athens, 3 May 2015
COMMUNIQUÉ

From 1-3 May 2015 the Committee of Representatives of Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) held its annual meeting in Athens, in the Inter-Orthodox Center of Penteli, at the kind invitation of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. The previous annual meeting of CROCEU was held in Bucharest in May 2014. The main topic of this year's meeting was "The role of the Church at a time of crisis". The representatives shared their views regarding this topic.
Those present at the meeting were: H.E. Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and the V. Rev. Archimandrite Aimilianos Bogiannou (Ecumenical Patriarchate), the V. Rev. Archimandrite Filaret Bulekov and the Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko (Moscow Patriarchate), H.E. Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște and the V. Rev. Prof. Dr. Sorin Selaru (Patriarchate of Romania), His Grace Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis and Deacon Fr. Nektarios Ioannou (Church of Cyprus) and H.E. Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia (Church of Greece). H.E. Metropolitan Antony of Central Europe (Patriarchate of Bulgaria) apologized for not being able to participate to the meeting.
First, H.E. Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia presented the program of support that the Church of Greece has developed to face the challenges presented to the Greek society during this period of crisis. He mentioned that the Church of Greece has spent 122 millions euros in 2013 and 121 millions euros in 2014. In addition to that he referred to the serious problem of migration and the pressure exercised particularly in the area of the Aegean Sea.
Next, H.G. Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis spoke about the role of the Church of Cyprus during this period of crisis. He stressed that "...the financial assistance provided by the Church of Cyprus to people in need, totaled 10.800.000 euros in 2012 and 2013.... Despite darkness and suffering due to the crisis, the Church of Cyprus tries to convey to people in need a message of hope and optimism. The crisis can also become an opportunity for self-criticism putting repentance at the center of our lives..."
During the second session of the meeting H.E. Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște presented a paper about the crisis of Religious Education with special reference to the Romanian experience. He stressed: "...Religious education in state schools is an expression of unity in diversity deeply rooted in culture, history and spirituality of every European nation. The crisis of religious experience as a consequence of secularization, globalization, individualism, relativization of Christian values, maximization of economic values and cultural and religious pluralism present us with common challenges eveywhere in Europe. In this context, the people of Romania are confronted with particular challenges related to religious education in state schools...."
The representative of the Moscow Patriarchate V. Rev. Archimandrite Filaret Bulekov spoke about the current crisis of Christians in Middle East Countries. He underscored: "...Christians are becoming hostages to a big political game of geostrategic re-division of the Middle East and Africa. Certain countries have invested much money in the destabilization in countries of these regions....In August 2013 the Russian Church transferred over 1.3 million dollars to the Patriarchate of Antioch...." In addition, the speaker mentioned the efforts made towards informing religious and political leaders and the wider public about the current situation.
H.E. Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium presented a paper about the current situation in the world. He spoke about spiritual and moral crisis. "...More than ever, people are in need to give meaning to their lives. One notices that secularization, globalization and the spiritual impoverishment are all involved in a series of serious problems, which have led to the crisis in which the current world has been led. (...) The Orthodox Church could propose new initiatives so as to develop a new way of treating people and goods, which take more into account intrinsic values. (...) The quest for happiness requires the involvement of a spiritual life. The person who leads a spiritual life is not someone who would have great ideas, but rather one who participates in the grace of the Holy Spirit and the divine life. What is offered in the Orthodox Liturgy is a life that presents itself as witness and as hope. We are called to celebrate the Eucharist, in which we offer the world to God..."
The participants analyzed the activities of the representations during the past years and discussed various ways of more efficient cooperation between them, in a spirit of unity and in order to make their voice heard by European Institutions. They had an extensive dialogue concerning the future activities of the CROCEU, expressing the wish to organize meetings on various topics, (e.d. the importance of religious education at school).
The participants visited the premises of the Seminary of the Apostoliki Diakonia in Aigaleo. There was also a warm reception of CROCEU members at the monastery of Daou Penteli.
The program culminated on Sunday, 3 May 2015, with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the parish of the Dormition of the Mother of God, in Ilioupolis.
The next annual meeting of CROCEU will take place in Cyprus in 2016 at the kind invitation of His Beatitude Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and all Cyprus Chrysostomos II.

 

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