The representatives of the Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Church to the European Union (CROCEU) met in Bucharest, Romania, on 16-18 May 2014, after the gracious invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania. The topic of their seminar was «The family in the context of the current crisis». The participants were the Metropolitan of France Emmanuel (Ecumenical Patriarchate), the Metropolitan of Tarkoviste Niphon (Patriarchate of Romania), the Metropolitan of Achaia Athanasios (Orthodox Church of Greece) and the Bishop of Neapolis Porfyrios (Orthodox Church of Cyprus). Among those invited to join the CROCEU members in this seminar were representatives of the Romanian Government, the Minister of European funds Mr. Theodorovici, Mr. Radu officer of the Government of Romania to the European Court. On behalf of the European Institutions, Mrs. Filote as a representative of the European Commission in Romania, Mr. Mihai as a representative of the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and the Euro deputies Mr. Marinescu and Mrs. Ticau as representatives from the European Parliament.
His Beatitude Patriarch of Romania Mr. Daniel welcomed the participants of the seminar, who underlined the importance of the family for the Orthodox Church, as a gift from God. The European Union should support the institution of the family because of low birth rates, an aging population and more now that Europe is going through a serious crisis which has spiritual consequences. Among others, the Patriarch of Romania said: "The family is the first value to protect and to promote in Europe because it’s the beginning and the future of the European Union". Then the Metropolitan of France Emmanuel spoke as the coordinator of CROCEU, who thanked His Beatitude the Patriarch of Romania for hosting such an important conference in order to support the family institution. The Minister of European funds Mr. Theodorovici stressed that Europe was established on a foundation of solidarity between peoples. The European funds are offered to its member countries in order to upgrade the quality of life of their citizens. Finally on behalf of the European Commission Mrs. Filote talked about the importance of the family institution for the European Union. It is important that people still resort to an emergency in the family for support and help, and finally she insisted that we should have as our target the traditional values and principles of Christianity.
In the second part of the seminar, the positions and the programs in progress of the European Commission and Parliament was developed by European officials. The representative of the Commissioner for Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr. Mihai talked about the funds which are offered to the Member States and their absorption by the Member States. Among others the emphasis was on the budget of 2014-2020 which large amounts will be given for the society. Greece will be able to take a 3.6 billion Euros, Cyprus 129 million Euros, Bulgaria 1.4 billion Euros for programs relating to education, training, social inclusion and an active aging. In the meanwhile Cyprus is leading the absorption of European funds, reaching up to 71 % as seen from the previous budget. Churches should participate actively in the absorption to these funds through their Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) for charity work. The purpose of both institutions is the solidarity with the suffering human being.
Mr. Marinescu member of the European People's Party presented the position of his political party and the various proposals compatible with Christian principles that have been submitted to the European Parliament for the protection of the family institution, such as the introduction of compulsory parental leave for four months at least. Ms. Ticau stressed the need to increase the funding of education, as it is essential for the future generations, but also the introduction of the minimum wage in order to have a life of dignity for all citizens of the European Union.
In the third and final part of the seminar, the representatives of Orthodox local Churches spoke for the institution of the family and its theological aspect. The Bishop of Neapolis Porfyrios developed the theme "The Family is the soul and the hope of Europe". His Grace developed the theological positions of the Orthodox Church for the institution of the family and the challenges of the modern era. He noted that every family consist a small Church, a part of the Church and finally a mystery which leads to the kingdom of God. Elsewhere His Eminence emphasized the pastoral care of the Church to the families in crisis. The local Orthodox Churches must intensify the spiritual guidance but also the material support of the members of the family.
Then, the representatives of the Church of the Patriarchate of Romania presented various programs in progress which they support the institution of the family. Fr. George Valcu developed the results of this mobilization of the Romanian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox churches for the support of human existence (from the its conception) through the program «One of Us-European citizen initiative» in which signatures were been collected to stop the European funds to the experimentations on human embryos. Mr. Radu Neuman developed the actions of the Romanian Orthodox Church through the NGO “Charity”. Τhe “Charity” is dealing with programs in social inclusion, development, education, which than the half of them are subsidized from European funds. Finally, Fr. Costin Naclad presented the program «Alege Seoala» with a three minutes short film related to convince children and teenagers not to leave early the school. Μore than 29.207 children participated through public school and Sunday School, and it is important to mention that 9618 children were enrolled in 235 camps of the Romanian Orthodox dioceses. At the end of presentations Metropolitan of Achaia Athanasios raised the conclusions of the seminar and all participants were attended to a lunch with the Patriarch of Romania Mgr. Daniel.
The members of CROCEU met the afternoon of the same day, in order to discuss current problems of CROCEU concerning the relations with the European Institutions. Finally, the representatives decided a new meeting in October 2014, in Brussels.
Finally, the representatives concelebrated, with the blessing of the Patriarch of Romania, in the patriarchate Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen on Sunday 18th of May, head of Metropolitan of Achaia Athanasios. At the end of Divine Liturgy the Patriarch of Romania hosted for the lunch the members of CROCEU at the Patriarchate residence.