The Charta Oecumenica is the ?parameter for reciprocal relations? among churches, said Italian Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox at the end of the conference ?Christians and Europe ? Italian stage of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly (EEA3)?, held in Terni, Italy, from 5-7 June 2006. The conference is the third in a series of ecumenical encounters organised by the Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Bishops? Conference (CEI), the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Malta (Ecumenical Patriarchate). At the same time, the conference has been the first European initiative to launch the ?second stage? of the EEA3.
The theme of the Assembly process in four stages is ?The light of Christ shines upon all ? Hope for renewal and unity in Europe?. The first EEA3 stage was held in Rome from 24-27 January 2006, with a meeting of 150 delegates of European Churches, Bishops? Conferences and ecumenical organisations. The second stage, inaugurated by the Terni conference, will consist of a series of meetings at the national/regional level. The third stage will be a meeting of delegates in Wittenberg, Germany, from 15-18 February 2007, similar to the Rome event. The process will culminate in Sibiu, Romania, with the Assembly itself, which will gather some 2,500 delegate of European Churches. As the previous Ecumenical Assemblies of Basel (1989) and Graz (1997), the EEA3 has been jointly convened by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops? Conferences (CCEE).
Some 200 delegates from the Roman-Catholic dioceses and representatives from the Protestant and Orthodox Churches in Italy took part in the Terni conference. Among the speakers were the General Secretary of CCEE, Mgr Aldo Giordano, the CEC President, Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, and the CEC Secretary for Communications, Rev. Luca M. Negro. The conference was presided over by the Bishop of Terni, Mgr Vincenzo Paglia (who is the President of the CEI Commission for ecumenism, as well as co-moderator of the EEA3 Planning Committee), the FCEI President, Prof. Gianni Long, and by Metropolitan Gennadios Zervos of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Malta.
The Terni event focused on the analysis of the Charta Oecumenica ? Guidelines for the Growing Cooperation among the Churches in Europe, signed in 2001 by the Presidents of CCEE and CEC. ?The Charta Oecumenica is the agenda which accompanies our European ecumenical journey towards Sibiu?, said Mgr Giordano. ?The Assembly theme, Jesus as the light shining upon all, shows the main requirement of the Charta, namely to find in the Scripture the starting point for the cooperation among Churches. The issues we chose for the Sibiu fora ? Unity, Spirituality, Witness, Europe, Religions, Migrations, Creation, Justice and Peace ? are the contents of the Charta?.
?Sibiu takes place at a time in which Europe, both the Europe of the 25 and beyond it, strongly feels the need to find the outburst of a renewed vision?, said Rev. de Clermont. As Christians, the CEC President added, we are called to give ?a common witness to a vision of Europe as a space of peace, reconciliation and cooperation. The churches have to play an active role in fighting against the fears which make our continent to retreat into itself. The Gospel message is based on hope, on the strength coming from the presence of Christ at our side?.
Participants in the Terni conference approved a series of recommendations from the churches of Italy: ?to study and deepen the contents and engagements of the Charta Oecumenica at all levels of pastoral action?; ?to extend the dialogue process of which the Charta Oecumenica is the symbol to those churches which are not yet taking part in it; ?to orient the formation of students of theology towards ecumenism?; ?to foster communication on ecumenical matters, also through the permanent cooperation of church media?.
The conference also approved recommendations for the Italian delegates in Sibiu: ?the fellowship with Judaism, friendly relations with Islam and encounter with other religions and world visions should be boosted by all Christian Churches of Europe?; ?it is urgent to recognise and effectively implement the rights of migrants? and to ?fight against economic inequalities and any form of exploitation and trafficking of human beings?; ?the need for Europe to not close down within its borders but to keep a dialogue with the rest of the world, and particularly with the Mediterranean and the Middle East?.
In the next months the second stage of the EEA3 will be carried out in France, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and other countries. On this occasion, CEC and CCEE sent to the national delegates, which will be the main actors of these encounters, a ?decalogue? with a series of recommendations. These can be found on the official Assembly website: www.eea3.org
Geneva/St. Gallen 8 June 2006-06-08
For further information:
Thierry Bonaventura, CCEE Media Officer
Tel. +41 71 227 6040, mobile +39 347 0360923
Luca Negro, CEC Secretary for Communications and Information
Tel: +41 22 791 6485, mobile +41 78 870 81 17 or +39 335 68 69 974,
The Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) comprises all the 34 Bishops' Conferences in Europe. The president is Bishop Am?d?e Grab of Chur, and the vice-presidents are Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. The secretary general is Mgr. Aldo Giordano. The secretariat is in St. Gallen, Switzerland (www.ccee.ch).
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 125 Orthodox, Protestant, and Old Catholic Churches along with 40 associated organisations from all countries on the European continent. CEC was founded in 1959 and has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg (www.cec-kek.org).