2010okt22

It is the second meeting of the above mentioned dialogue which takes place every two years. The first meeting was held at Trento in Italy in December 2008 under the general title: Family: a good for humanity. The topics in which the dialogue deals with are mainly and as so far problems of the Churches in Europe and their way of dealing with them. The general title of this year forum was Church and State Relationships-Their theological and political dimensions. Almost all Orthodox Churches in Europe took part and the committee was made up from seventeen members. As for the Roman Catholic Church, seventeen members of Europe s conference of Bishops took part. The co-chairmen of the conference were the Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios, Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Conference of Bishops in Europe. It is to be stressed that the above mentioned dialogue does not replace the dialogue among the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic that begun in 1980.

Church of Cyprus was represented by his Grace Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis. As a lecturer, his Grace spoke under the topic Relations between the Cypriot state and the church of Cyprus - A historical and theological approach - A review of the positive aspects and areas of conflict. Through this he stressed that In Cyprus, relations between Church and State have always been strong and, to a great extent, healthy, insofar as there were a clear differentiation of roles and mutual assistance. In those areas where the State left room for pastoral action on the part of the Church (e.g. in the sector of Education and in the field of family law from 1960-1990) the positive results were evident in all aspects of social life (improved sociability and mental health of citizens, a fall in anti-social behavior, etc.) In those areas where the State succeeded in reducing the influence of the Church (e.g. in the field of family law in recent years), the consequences proved harmful to the State itself since basic institutions (e.g. marriage and the family) were corrupted and eroded.

On the part of the Church, insofar as the clergy made the most of the room for action granted by the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Cyprus and did not act in areas unrelated to its mission, the benefits were not only spiritual (i.e. concerning the salvation of souls, which is the main mission of the Church) but were, by extension, social, reinforcing the standing and civil power or the Cypriot State.

Among others the following were decided by the forum:

  1. The participants note that the respect of religious freedom as a fundamental right of the individual has been growing in the conscience of European people. Several countries in Europe have adopted new democratic constitutions, along with laws on religious freedom which ensure that all citizens have the right to profess their religions, respecting at the same time the beliefs of others.
  2. That the role as dominating Church or State Church should not result in a legal discrimination for the other Churches and the members of minority religious groups, whose religious freedom should be fully guaranteed, including the right to profess their faith using any means respecting personal freedom.
  3. The State and the Church, in their domains, are independent and autonomous one from another. Cooperation includes, among other things, education, charity work and services for the common good.
  4. Our churches wish they could participate more actively in the ethical and moral debates concerning the future of the society The Churches have the obligation to sensitize to these issues and defend the dignity of the human being created in the likeness of God.
  5. The existence of considerable differences amongst our Churches as regards material life conditions. In certain European countries, in order to accomplish their pastoral, charity and social mission, the Churches are still waiting to have their assets returned, after the seizure on the part of the Communist regimes.
  6. The participants in the Forum insist on the freedom of education, recalling that the duty of education lies with the parents, who must decide for the education of their children. Schools and training institutes managed by the Church should be benefited from the financial support of the State just like public schools, since they perform the task of forming responsible citizens acting for the common good.
  7. We warn the citizens of our countries about the danger represented by a secularized society with no moral reference. The legal system on which the States - and therefore relations amongst citizens - are based cannot depend on the changeable opinions of people, nor on the action of pressure groups. Hopping that the members of our Churches make every possible effort, on all levels of social life, to make the Christian vision of humankind and the human society continue to inspire the behavior of people and the choices of legislators
  8. We ask our governments and politicians to commit themselves in guaranteeing religious freedom in Europe and promote it in the world fighting against any form of discrimination based on religion

It was also decided that the third Orthodox-Catholic Forum will be held in Portugal in 2012.

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