High Level Meeting of Religious Leaders 2018.

On October 8, 2018, Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, had a meeting with high level religious leaders at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. CROCEU was represented by Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia, director of the Office of the Representation of the Church of Greece to European Institutions, accompanied by Rev. Dr Georgios Lekkas, counselor of the Representation of the Church of Greece.

The other participants in the meeting were Mgr Mariano CROCIATA, Bishop of Latina and Vice President  of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Rabbi Albert GUIGUI, Chief Rabbi of Brussels and Permanent Representative at the Conference of European Rabbis, Mgr Antoine HEROUARD, Auxiliary Bishop of Lille and President of the Commission on Social Affairs of COMECE, His Grace Robert INNES, Anglican Bishop in Europe, Dr. Frank JULY, Presiding Bishop in Wurttemberg and President of the EKD Commission on Europe, Rev. Christian KRIEGER, President of the Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine and President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Imam Khalid BENHADDOU, El Fath mosque, Gent, Belgium.

The meeting took place in the framework of article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty and the dialogue between the Commission and religious organizations. It was the follow up of same sort of meetings, an initiative taken by the President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso which started in 2005. The main topic of the meeting was the important outstanding challenges as well as perspectives for the future of Europe in the run up to the upcoming European Parliament elections, with common EU values as a point of departure.

The participants had plenty of time to raise many issues e.g. migration, social integration, the sustainability of our way of life and the protection of the environment, the importance of education for all, the need to establish trust among all partners of the society as well as the need to overcome fear regarding the other who is our neighbor,  the role of dialogue as a tool to combat slogans, lies and populism, the risks of racism, discrimination and inequality, unemployment, artificial intelligence and violence against women in the framework of family.

Metropolitan Athanasios on behalf of CROCEU made a concrete proposal to collaborate with the European Commission on organizing events on the topic of European values in dialogue with local traditions. He underscored that we need to learn to respect divergence when it enriches the reality we are called to share together. It is important to work towards deepening a sense of togetherness maintaining and respecting each one’s identity.