EU high-ranking officials discussed with religious leaders the problem of solidarity and demography
BRUSSELS – More than twenty senior representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions and from the Hindu and Bahá'í communities from all over Europe met on July 12, 2012 in the headquarters of the European Commission.
This high-level meeting was called by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and co-chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament representing President Martin Schulz, reports the Institute for Religious Freedom.
The meeting was held under the motto 'Intergenerational Solidarity: Setting the Parameters for Tomorrow's Society in Europe'. In a frank and open spirit, the leaders discussed intergenerational solidarity and other important demographic challenges for Europe, like tackling unemployment, fostering active ageing, and reconciling work and private life.
José Manuel Barroso encouraged religious leaders to engage in public dialogue and show the specific contributions that churches and religious communities can make to explain the need for solidarity.
"To tackle the economic crisis, we are doing a lot to ensure the right balance between solidarity and responsibility among Member States. But we need to devote at least as much attention to solidarity and responsibility among the young and the old... The churches and religious communities are well placed to build bridges in our societies", – said President of the European Commission.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council said: "We cannot afford, socially, economically and in the first instance, humanely, a 'lost generation' in Europe... Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and their NGO's, schools and associations are bringing, at local level, persons together. They can, also therefore, play an important role in improving understanding and mutual learning between generations".
László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament, stated: "Intergenerational solidarity is an obligation in Judeo-Christian heritage and in other religions as well. Nowadays, it is not only a question of religion but intergenerational solidarity has strong financial implications too: today's debt can be seen as tomorrow's potential taxes. Debt reduction therefore is a matter of intergenerational justice".
During the meeting, participants agreed on the need to raise awareness of the huge societal challenges, to take up responsibilities in important areas like strengthening solidarity between young and old, and fighting discrimination, and to effectively contribute to the Commission's overall growth strategy for Europe, by striving for better education, less poverty, and a fairer society.
Among the religious leaders the meeting was attended by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, President of the Conference of European Churches (Patriarchate of Constantinople); Christopher Morgan, Bishop of Colchesterthe, representative of the Anglican Church; Seppo Häkkinen, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and other representatives of Churches of Reformation; Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania; André-Joseph Leonard, Archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles and other bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Jewish communities was represented by Karol Sidon, Chief Rabbi of Prague and the Czech Republic; Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, Vice President of the Conference of European Rabbis and others.
The Islamic communities was represented by Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith; Imam Yahya Pallavicini, Vice-President of the "Comunità religiosa Islamica" in Italy and others.
The meeting was also attended by Bharti Tailor, President of the Hindu Forum of Europe and Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain; Sarah Vader, Representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the EU; Maroš Šefčovič Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
© 2012 The Institute for Religious Freedom – Kyiv, Ukraine