Press Release No: 16/14
6 June 2016
From 31 May to 3 June, the city of Lisbon played host to the general secretaries of European National Council Churches (ENCCs) in an annual meeting convened by the Conference of European Churches. The participants came from different regions of Europe and met at the Lusitanian Church Cathedral (Anglican Communion in Portugal) at the invitation of the Portuguese Council of Christian Churches (COPIC).
The meeting offered an important annual opportunity for ENCCs to share experiences and support each other in their ecumenical work. The general secretaries also brought reports from their home countries in a session led by CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen.
The current situation in Europe informed the programme. Presentations relating to the ongoing refugee crisis were given by Rev. Alfredo Abad Heras, vice-moderator of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe Executive Committee, and Cardinal Manuel Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon. Cardinal Clemente took a special interest in the group and offered a personal guided tour of the historical treasures of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora. He engaged the group in an open and powerful dialogue on the need for churches to act and speak out on behalf of migrants and refugees in Europe. Participants also learned about the local situation from Dr. Rui Marques, president of Platform for Refugee Support (Plataforma de Ajuda aos Refugiados).
Religious freedom and trends in religion in Portugal were also featured on the agenda. CEC Study Secretary Peter Pavlovic led the group in a discussion of EU economic governance, and introduced the work of the European Christian Environmental Network in advance of its upcoming assembly in Helsinki.
On behalf of the general secretaries gathered in Lisbon, COPIC President Bishop Sifredo Teixeira wrote to UK NCCs in advance of the upcoming UK EU referendum. “Please be assured of our prayers and good wishes at this momentous time of decision,” he wrote. “We believe that peace and reconciliation lie at the heart of the European Union, particularly given the legacy of past conflicts.” For the full text of the letter, please click here.
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