Voices from Russia

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Orthodox and Catholics Intend to Develop Unified Strategy in Building Dialogue with the EU

Last Tuesday, in Brussels, the first working meeting between the heads of mission of the Orthodox churches in the EU and Fr Peter Mazurkiewicz, the General Secretary of the Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE) took place. “Both parties noted the importance of the historical moment associated with the promulgation of Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. As that mandates the regular dialogue of EU institutions with churches and religious communities, we decided to begin preparations for a joint position to provide us with guidance in dealing with the EU”, one of the meeting’s participants, Fr Antony Ilyin, the Acting Representative of the MP to the EU, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Thursday.

Rev Mazurkiewicz briefed Orthodox representatives with project proposals prepared by COMECE. “During the discussion, the participants stressed the importance of harmonising the voices of the Christian churches in the EU in structuring an institutional dialogue with the EU, highlighting the importance of the joint testimony of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, as we have a common ground on the most topical issues”, he said. He told us that the parties agreed that the establishment of a “common framework for future dialogue should not exclude the possibility for each of the churches to build their own relationship with the EU institutions on a bilateral basis”.

As Fr Antony noted, “Any consultation with the inter-Christian NGO based in Brussels should take into account the fact that the position of such an organisation cannot replace the individual position of each member church or denomination. However, a common approach to dialogue with the EU will be effective and legitimate only if a multilateral format of interaction exists between all the missions of the various churches active in Brussels”. In addition, he continued, those at the meeting expressed the hope that the registration of religious missions to the EU institutions should take into account the identity of churches precisely as religious communities, who give a special contribution to European society (as reflected in Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty). Therefore, he said, “To equate churches with lobbying organisations or interest groups is incorrect”. Following the meeting, the participants decided to hold joint consultations annually each December on a regular basis.

26 November 2009



Editor’s Note:

The above is NOT an example of ecumenism, nor is it an indication that relations between Orthodox and papists have suddenly thawed. It’s a case of inter-religious cooperation; it’s gone on for centuries. There is no theology involved at all; it’s a matter of coordinating a common approach to a shared political problem. Of course, the usual cast of suspects is going to crow about “improving relations” between the Vatican and us, but, saner heads know that framing a common position on political cooperation is not the same as coming to agreement on theological disputes. The papists are not going to abandon any of their distinctive positions, and, frankly, neither are we. Let’s be blunt, fences make for good neighbours. Forthright people have fewer disagreements than do the mealy-mouthed and syncretistic. Honestly, there are many differences separating papists and Orthodox, and they are not minor. Indeed, we show disrespect for our neighbour if we minimise such. I take the position one should assume that a member of a particular group agrees with the stance of that organisation… otherwise, why be a member? Therefore, I tend not to bring up such differences in personal communication (which this is not). If I read a papist article saying that we Orthodox are schismatical, it bothers me not in the least. It’s their viewpoint, after all. You were expecting otherwise? People get on much better if they admit their differences… then, there’s fewer toes stepped on and fewer bruised egos.


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