Press Release No: 16/24
13 July 2016
On Tuesday morning in Bratislava a delegation led by Slovakia’s State Secretary for European Affairs Ivan Korčok received representatives from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).
The meeting between the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union and church representatives focused on the state of the European Union following the so-called Brexit referendum and the ongoing refugee and migration crisis, including reform of the Dublin regulation. Development and peace policies, as well supporting families as through the competences of the European Union were also part of the agenda.
State Secretary Korčok applauded the churches efforts in the public sphere and their search for solutions that affect the whole of European society. He also asked for support in communicating with European citizens, especially in matters directly linked to the existence of the EU. Korčok emphasized that Slovakia wishes to advance the formation of the European community and that many of the difficulties Europe currently faces are not result of failure of the common project.
CEC and COMECE representatives emphasized the importance of the churches in dialogue about the future of Europe. Michael Kuhn announced that COMECE will launch a reflection process, leading to a congress in 2017 on European integration, development of democracy and identifying the new challenges where the EU can deliver. CEC presented its recent open-letter “What Future for Europe?” which invites its members and partners to a conversation about the future of the continent and shaping Europe as our common home. In view of the steady flow of refugees and migrants to Europe, church representatives stressed humane treatment of these vulnerable people must prevail. Solidarity among EU Member States is critical to this, including the timely revision of the Dublin regulation, addressing root causes, and coordinated EU response are necessary to avoid further human tragedy.
“In the dialogue, I was able to express our mutual conviction that the care for families should become one of the highest EU priorities,” said Mons. Jozef Haľko, Auxiliary Bishop of Bratislava.
“We were encouraged to hear a convinced European message from the Slovak Presidency. There are differences of opinion among the EU governments, and they need to be discussed but not overemphasized or dramatized,” remarked Fr Heikki Huttunen, CEC General Secretary. “The churches have a singular network to listen to the experiences in different parts of Europe, and we need to use it to enhance the sense of belonging together and of continuing together.”
The meeting of CEC and COMECE with the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union took place under Article 17 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. This is a commitment of the EU to open, transparent, and regular dialogue with churches and religious communities.
The representatives of CEC and COMECE were:
H.E. Mons. Jozef Haľko, Auxiliary Bishop of Bratislava, Slovak Bishops’ Conference
Fr Martin Kramara, Spokesman, Slovak Bishops’ Conference
H.E. Rastislav, Archbishop, Orthodox Church on Czech Lands and Slovakia
Mgr. Michal Švajko, Orthodox Church on Czech Lands and Slovakia
Miloš Klátik, General Bishop, Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Slovakia and Chairperson of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia
László Fazekas, Bishop, Reformed Christian Church in Slovakia
Ladislav Krpala, Secretary, Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia
Fr Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary, CEC
Michael Kuhn, General Secretary (interim), COMECE
Peter Pavlovic, Study Secretary, CEC
Marek Mišák, Policy Advisor, COMECE
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Tel: +32 2 234 68 42