Press Release No. 13/11
22 April 2013
Church and Society Commission discuss the European Year of Citizens;
Rev. Rudiger Noll, Director of Church and Society Commission leaves
The European Year of Citizens 2013 has been the main theme of the annual plenary meeting of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CSC) that took place in Brussels from 18-20 April. Carsten Lietz, member of the cabinet of Commissioner Reding introduced the activities and the background of the Year that has been declared by the EU. The European Union (“Education and Training – ET 2020”) and the Council of Europe develop programmes to promote “Education for Democratic Citizenship”, which has a substantial Human Rights component where CSC of CEC is also heavily involved.
The purpose of the main theme was to explore citizenship from a European perspective and how churches relate to it. Reflections on Theology and European Citizenship were offered by different Christian theologians and by the joint publication of CSC and the Intereuropean Commission on Church and School (ICCS) IV “Education for Democratic Citizenship in the context of Europe”, edited by the moderator of the CSC working group on education Dr Peter Schreiner.
The CSC members stated that the transparency of decision making processes needs to be improved on the national and European level, and that the citizens should clearly know where and how they can be involved in the political processes in order to bring change into their society. “Love your neighbour” is a theological principle for bridge building between the national and the European level when citizenship is discussed, as citizenship can be source of inclusion but also of exclusion.
Civil society representatives from the European Action Service shared their experience related to the efforts made to establish a Charter on Citizenship; as well as the possibility for every resident to apply for naturalization if so wished, freedom to have access to information, etc.
The Commission members affirmed their commitment to continue their work in urging governments to safeguard democracy, human rights and the rule of law, especially when facing a difficult daily reality caused by financial and economic crisis.
Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis from the Church of Cyprus informed the commission members about the current situation in his home country which faced economic and financial downturns just after Cyprus served as EU Presidency. He informed about church activities which at the time are multiplying their charity markets to help people cover their basic needs. Participants expressed their solidarity with Cypriots at this occasion.
The CSC plenary confirmed that CSC work must be safeguarded in the new CEC structures which will be discussed during the 14th CEC Assembly 3 - 8 July 2013, Budapest, Hungary.
The Plenary gave a very thankful farewell to Rev Rüdiger Noll, who, after having served CSC in Brussels as Director of the Church and Society Commission and Associate General Secretary of CEC for 11 years will leave CSC during spring time for a new professional challenge in his home country.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 119 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 associated organisations. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
The Church and Society Commission of CEC links member churches and associated organisations of CEC with the European Union’s institutions, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO and the UN (on European matters). Its task is to help the churches study church and society questions from a theological and social-ethical perspective, especially those with a European dimension, and to represent common positions of the member churches in their relations with political institutions working in Europe.
For more information please contact:
Mag. Elizabeta Kitanovic
Church and Society Commission of CEC
Rue Joseph II, 174
Tel. +32 2 230 17 32
+32 2 230 17 32
Fax +32 2 231 14 13