Hungarian EU Presidency | European Churches meet with Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén

24 June, 2024

Photo: Hungarian Government Press Office
Photo: Hungarian Government Press Office

An ecumenical delegation representing the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) met with Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén on Monday, 24 June 2024, in Budapest, to discuss their concerns and perspectives in view of the incoming Hungarian EU Presidency.

The meeting was an occasion to present Churches’ contributions to the policy priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Council, which starts on 1 July 2024. These policy recommendations were elaborated in a reflection document and handed to the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén.

European churches highlighted the need to recommit to the founding values of the European Union, with a particular emphasis on unity and solidarity as guiding principles for the forthcoming EU strategic agenda.

European churches´ representatives shared their concern about the increasing social and political polarisation in EU Member States and the tendencies to misuse and instrumentalise religion. H.E. Mgr. Mariano Crociata, President of COMECE, called on the incoming Hungarian EU Presidency to “promote social cohesion and address the issue of polarisation”, a dangerous phenomenon that divides our societies through the spread of reductive ideologies, disinformation, populism, xenophobia, radicalisation and violent extremism.

Mgr. Crociata also wished the next Presidency of the EU Council to prioritise the protection and care of the most vulnerable, “assisting those who suffer from different poverty and exclusion, and addressing demographic challenges by promoting at the EU level policies that recognise the central role of the family in society, including through increased investment in parenthood”.

The ecumenical delegation also addressed the issue of peace, emphasising the need to establish peace and stability on the European continent and beyond.

“As peace in Europe can no longer be taken for granted, peacebuilding efforts have to be constantly renewed based on the principles of truth and justice, in full respect of international law,” stated His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, President of CEC.

“We encourage the Hungarian EU Council Presidency to act as a united, trustful and integrating force and credible peace broker amid violent conflicts and tensions in EU’s neighbourhood, the Middle East, the Caucasus region and other parts of the world,” he continued.

During the meeting, COMECE and CEC representatives urged the Hungarian EU Presidency to support a citizen-centred, credible and fair EU enlargement process with the Western Balkan and the Eastern European countries.

Appreciating the recognition of the distinctive contribution of churches in the official programme of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the ecumenical delegation expressed hope that the EU-Churches Article 17 dialogue would be strengthened during this Presidency and beyond.

Besides Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, the ecumenical delegation also met with Miklós Soltész, Secretary of State responsible for churches, and Tristan Azbej, Secretary of State responsible for programmes to help persecuted Christians and for the Hungary Helps Programme.

Together, CEC and COMECE represent a membership of around 380 million citizens throughout EU Member States. They are strongly committed to accompanying and supporting the European integration process based on Christian values such as human dignity, respect, justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

Meetings with EU Presidencies are part of a long-standing tradition supported by Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which foresees an open, transparent and regular dialogue between the EU and churches, religious associations or communities.

The CEC-COMECE delegation was composed of:

  • H.E. Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, CEC President;
  • H.E. Mgr. Mariano Crociata, COMECE President and Bishop of Latina;
  • Rev. OKR. Frank Kopania, Protestant Church in Germany, CEC Vice-President;
  • H.E. Mgr. Gábor Mohos, Auxiliary Bishop of Budapest-Esztergom, Bishop-Delegate to COMECE;
  • Bishop Péter Kondor, Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary;
  • Rev. Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto, COMECE General Secretary;
  • Mgr. Tamás Tóth, General Secretary of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference;
  • Dr Vilmos Fischl, General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary;
  • Rev. Dr Peter Pavlovič, CEC Programme Officer for Theology and Studies;
  • Mr Marek Mišák, COMECE Policy Adviser for EU External Relations;

Download the COMECE-CEC contribution
Download high resolution photos

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Naveen Qayyum
Communication Officer
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 486 75 82 36
Twitter: @ceceurope
YouTube: Conference of European Churches
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