Final communiqué issued at the end of the Joint Committee of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC)

06-02-2013

Warsaw, Poland, 6 February 2013

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From 4-6 February 2013 a meeting took place in Warsaw, Poland, of the Joint Committee of CCEE and CEC on the theme ‘Faith and Religion in a changing Europe. New Christian Movements in Europe: Challenge or Opportunity’

Under this heading the participants considered the questions posed to Christian churches by certain religious groups and movements. This is an issue that has already been addressed in the Charta Ecumenica, an agreed statement between CCEE and CEC, signed on 22 April 2001. That document expressed the wish to take seriously the critical questions of others, and to try together to conduct fair discussions with them. It also noted that a distinction must be made between the communities with which dialogues and encounters are to be sought, and those which should be warned against from a Christian point of view (cfr. Charta Ecumenica, 12).

The Warsaw meeting heard scientific data about such movements, which included (neo-)Pentecostal groups, and considered the factors that lead people to join them. The group shared ideas about how to respond to this complex challenge both through evangelisation and through renewal of the life of the churches.  There was particular concern about the situation of those migrants coming to Europe who do not feel at home in the mainline European Churches and take refuge in new religious movements of one kind or another. The wider global context of this phenomenon was also noted and reference was made to eclecticism, fluidity of religious allegiance, and the way in which social media is changing the way people belong and relate.

 Prayer

CCEE and CEC gathered in prayer for people living in precarious situations. They noted with concern the danger and instability of the situation both in the Middle East and North Africa. A programme of constructive dialogue, throughout the whole region, is the only way forward if there is to be lasting justice and peace. 

 Evangelisation

In the light of the above topics, members of CCEE and CEC took counsel together about the urgency of evangelisation. CCEE briefed the meeting about the New Evangelisation, the Year of Faith, and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. A report was given of the recent Synod in Rome on Evangelisation. CEC shared about the most recent development in preparation for the 14th CEC General Assembly (Budapest, Hungary, July 3-8, 2013) which will be entitled ‘What are we waiting for now? – CEC and its mission in a changing Europe’. This gathering will seek to take forward the role and mission of the organisation, which was founded in 1959 and comprises in its membership 115 churches and 40 associated organisations.

CCEE and CEC renewed their commitment to the search for ecclesial communion in service of an evermore effective witness and proclamation of Jesus Christ to the people of Europe.

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2014 meeting. The 2014 meeting will be held from 17 to 19 February 2014.

Proceedings took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and friendship, and featured a number of opportunities for prayer. Participants have also visited, on Tuesday 5 February, the offices of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The meeting concluded on Wednesday 6 February with a visit to the Museum of Insurrection.

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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a communion of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all European countries, and 40 associated organisations. It was founded in 1959 and the CEC has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

The Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) includes the current 33 European Episcopal Conferences, represented by their Presidents, and the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.) and the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo. The President is Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary; the Vice-Presidents are Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, and Mgr Józef Michalik, Archbishop of Przemyśl, Poland. The General Secretary is Mgr Duarte da Cunha. The Secretariat is based at St Gallen (Switzerland).

The Joint Committee, established in 1972, is the highest body for dialogue between CEC and CCEE. It meets annually and includes, as well as the two presidencies and General Secretaries of the two bodies, four members from CEC and four members appointed by CCEE.

CEC and CCEE delegations present at the meeting

CEC PArticipants

His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Ecumenical Patriarchate, CEC President

OKRin Cordelia Kopsch, EKD United, Germany, CEC Vice-president

Metropolitan Arsenios Kardamakis, Ecumenical Patriarchate

Rev. Rauno Pietarinen, Orthodox Church of Finland

Dr. Joanna J. Matuszewska, Reformed Evangelical Church, Poland

Pastor Claire Sixt-Gateuille, Reformed Church of France

Rev. Dr Guy Liagre, CEC General Secretary

CCEE PARTICIPANTS

His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, CCEE President

His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, CCEE Vice-president

His Grace Mgr. Józef Michalik, Archbishop of Przemyśl, CCEE Vice-president

His Grace Mgr. Kevin McDonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark

His Lordship Mgr. Vasile Bizau, Bishop of Maramures

His Lordship Mgr. Tadeusz Pikus, Auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw

Rev. P. Luis Okulik, Secretary of CCEE’s Caritas in Veritate Commission

Monsignor Duarte da Cunha, CCEE General Secretary