European Ecumenical Bodies Plan Pan-European Assembly

Representatives of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) began scheduling and planning out the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly (EEA3), as they met in Chartres, France, for a Joint Committee on February 3-6, 2005. The two ecumenical bodies settled on the theme, “The light of Christ shines upon all. Hope for renewal and unity in Europe” and Sibiu, Romania as the location for the Sept. 4-8, 2007 gathering.

“A common process will build-up to this event, and will take place at national and regional levels, in order to develop the common ecumenical commitment of the churches in Europe. In the coming months the proposal of the Joint Committee will undergo final approval on the part of the respective governing bodies,” the CEC and CCEE wrote in their joint statement, released on Feb. 6.

According to the two groups, there will be a series of ecumenical events that will lead up to the Romania gathering. The first such event, slated for January 24-26, 2006 in Roman, will bring together the delegates of the Churches, Bishop’s Conferences, ecumenical bodies and movements, to talk over the specifics of the EEA3.

Additionally, the groups agreed on a series of regional and national meetings throughout 2006 and a second European gathering in the beginning of 2007, possibly in Wittenberg, the city of Luther in Germany.

All these gatherings will culminate with the Romania gathering, which is expected to attract 3,000 delegates—the first time for a country with a majority Orthodox tradition.

The Joint Committee also adopted a series of recommendations on the mandate and mythology for the new CEC-CCEE Committee for Relations with Muslims in Europe, which will replace the “Islam in Europe” Committee. The new working group plan to develop contacts with Muslims in Europe and re-assess the European integration process from an inter-religious perspective.

At that light, the CEC-CCEE heard a report on the application of article 52 of the new European Constitutional Treaty, which explicitly recognizes the contribution of churches to the European debate. The article entails an “open, transparent and regular dialogue" with the churches and other religious communities.

The two groups also underlined that Turkey’s joining the EU should not represent a religious problem but rather a chance to respect human rights and religious freedom.

Going further, the Joint Committee called for a visit of the CEC-CCEE delegation to the churches in the Middle East.

The next meeting of the Joint Committee will take place in Rome from 25-26
January 2006.