_After Kovacs_

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					Discussion 3

Mr Arie Oostlander MEP

Thank you, Chairman.
I followed several of the speeches with great interest. However I have the feeling that some questions
have been neglected. We are speaking about importance of religion for peace in the world, or positive
ethics in politics, but if people are coming from the outside they have in general the opinion, that the
stronger the belief, the stricter the believer, the more the believers are devoted, the higher are the
chances on war. They have some examples which are true. We cannot deny that. My question is how
can we avoid from the church side and from the side of Christian inspired politics that these
phenomena are turning up all the time. We see it in Northern Ireland. We see it in the Balkans where
the main churches frequently are reacting more as cultural power blocks than as churches per se. How
can we avoid that kind of sin speaking with reference to Referend Kovacs?

We know from history that it is in general very difficult for churches to take a different position from what
is the main stream in the country, from what the dominant ruling class says. We have to be critical: I
wonder, if there is something to which the bible inspires us to be different because of specific criteria in
the gospel.
My question is what kind of action, teaching could be expected from the churches themselves to avoid
these strange phenomena?

HE Metropolitan Michael

Your question is quite justified. One must admit that as a Church, one has very often failed, particularly
during the last few years, and has not come up to expectations. But if one recalls that the Church is an
institution, regardless of its spiritual aspect, an institution which operates within this world, then all that
is positive and negative in this society is echoed within the Church as well, otherwise it would be a
foreign body within society.

On the other hand, as the representative of a Church, I must say this: the states today, the temporal
power, accept that the Church is a factor which can shape society today. Or, in the name of the
separation of Church and State, they have banished the Church more or less to church premises,
leaving it no scope to play its other role.

I think that today the Churches are in a position to be active within society, e.g. as regards education,
and as regards the social institutions. The Church in Europe has many possibilities today. One finds
that very often, in the name of ‘progress’, but also an advanced secularism within the Church: there are
impediments to this. Not - I repeat - not that the Church would be in a position to do full justice to its
task. But I also think that there is less of a desire, on the part of the State and on the part of society, for
the Church to play a role, as it is wrongly assumed that it is a factor that is no longer modern in this day
and age. If we look at the role - which admittedly has negative aspects - played by the Roman Catholic
Church in recent years, in the Orthodox countries, Orthodoxy and indeed religion in general, we must
take account of this and evaluate it accordingly.
Another major issue in this separation between the State and the Church is the issue of sects. If one
talks a lot about terrorism, one must ask the question: aren't sects also a form of a so-called 'spiritual
terrorism'? In Hungary, where I have a certain responsibility, 260 so-called churches and religious
communities are recognised. This includes just 15 well-known churches and religious communities. All
the others are unknown; all they have to do is collect 100 signatures in order to be recognised.
The issue is this: the Hungarian State cannot control me as an established Church. But the State
knows what the Catholic Church, the Reformed Church, the Jews and the Muslims believe. There is a
dialogue. But the State has no opportunity to engage in dialogue with all these sects. In my view, it is
an imported and dangerous spiritual enlightenment which responds to a specific need.

Admittedly, the State agencies and society have a duty to keep State and religion separate. On the
other hand, they also have a duty to cater for this need by allowing healthy religious activity. They
should not permit, in the name of universal freedom, something which then poses a danger not only to
the Church but also to the welfare of society. To me, the sects are tomorrow's threat to the welfare state
and the laws of the State.

Mr Wim van Velzen MEP

May I add one point of reflection: Is it the church and the religion which are the causes or do we have to
do with persons using religion as a label?

 It is interesting that ETA is not using the label "religion" because of the simple reason that they are
Catholic and live in a Catholic country. But let us assume for a while that we had the same division in
the Basque group, say Protestant, and the Spanish were Catholic, there for sure the ETA-conflict would
have been a so called inter-religious problem.

The second point I wanted to make is, let us also look at the sociological element. What is the reason?
While Catholics and Protestants in Northern-Ireland are fighting with each other, this has to do of
course with differences, social background, discrimination and a long history. Bring it back to religion, I
am not sure that that is the case.

The Muslim world per se is not fighting against Israel. It has to do with the Palestinians who are living in
severe conditions. It has to do with the status of the holy places for the three world religions. It is much
more complicated than if we say that it is a clash amongst three religions.

We also see that of course Pakistanis and Hindus are fighting which each other. Has it to do with Islam
and Hinduism, or has it to do with other causes?

My assessment is that it is too superficial when journalists and others are indicating that this has to do
with a fight amongst religions. On the other hand it is also clear that there are even representatives of
the churches preaching violence, etc. In those cases you will have a different story, and it is very
important that we will have the dialogue with those churches and those Mullahs to discuss these points.
Then of course you cannot say that is has to do more with factors other than religion when the cause of
the problem is the Priest, the Mullah, the Rabbi. I think, that a lot of wars, which are going on in the
world, are not religious problems, e.g. Mugabe in Zimbabwe. You can find a lot of examples where the
conflicts have nothing to do with religion. I think, we should not push ourselves into the corner that we
would accept that religion is the cause of many conflicts in the world.
HE Metropolitan Michael

Both the Christian churches and Islam and Judaism spoke out as loudly as they possibly could,
especially last year: there was the inter-religious dialogue at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch
last December in Brussels and the inter-religious meeting on the Pope's initiative in Assisi, and the
Conference of European Churches is organising an inter-religious pan-European conference next
month. With the involvement of Islam and Judaism in all these conferences, the Churches' official policy
lines have been demonstrated clearly. However, there is no opportunity to achieve unanimity. There is
resistance and also opposition. For example, in the Orthodox world, there are critical voices against this
initiative by the Ecumenical Patriarch, as it is feared that it will lead to syncretism between Islam,
Judaism and Christianity. But the intention is simply to open up the possibility of dialogue, and this
dialogue will not focus on the substance of faith. This is a tangible example of how theory and practice
can diverge widely.

I do not think that the Churches can do very much at present. They must use the opportunity to bring
the word to the grassroots. A great many decisions have been taken, and people are working very
hard. But there is a large vacuum between the hierarchy and the people. This applies not only to inter-
religious dialogue. It also applies to Christian ecumenism. Even today, we have the bad experience that
40 years after the start of an intensive theological dialogue between Orthodoxy, Catholicism and the
Protestant world, the people have little benefit from it in practice. It is a matter for the hierarchies and
the theologians, and the flock only learns about it instinctively. We work theoretically, but have not
reached the grassroots of the Church. This danger can also be seen within inter-religious dialogue.
There, it is the responsibility of the Churches to turn what has been achieved into a common good. In
this respect, there really is a lack of communication between top and bottom for, even now, people
have the wrong impression that the Churches basically consist solely of the hierarchies. That is only
part of it. The people are the factor that shapes the Church in practical terms because they are the
bearers of the spirit of the Church, not the bishops, who may have good intentions and may also have
to pursue a specific Church policy, but are still not in a position to turn the magnificent achievements of
inter-religious and inter-Christian dialogue into a genuine common good. This deficit must be minimised
as far as possible.

We have had this experience in the Balkans. The Serbian Orthodox Church made declarations at every
level and generally attempted to narrow the gap. It cannot be said that this was felt among its flock. It is
only now, after the event, that people are beginning to benefit from it again.

Mrs Ursula Schleicher MEP

Sects have just been mentioned. These give me great cause for concern. I have the impression that
when religious education has not been passed on from one generation to the next, a gap has emerged.
Young people in particular are very open to sects. Apparently, the sects appeal to young people in a
way to which they respond. I don't know how they do it, but we have major problems with the sects who
promise young people accommodation or support when starting their studies, for example. Young
people are trusting and it takes too long before they realise that they are trapped. We have a number of
cases in which parents have managed, albeit with great difficulty, to rescue their children from these

Why is it possible for sects to appeal to young people in this way, and why are we not managing to do
the same in our Churches, which we have known for centuries?
September 11 jolted the people of America. People have realised that material things alone do not
make you happy, and they are trying to reclaim spiritual values. I think we have actually reached a
moment of renewal; there is a good chance of reaching the people. It is important that we unite

I am especially worried about the lack of young people in the Churches. I think that somewhere along
the line, a gap has emerged which, in my view, has not yet been closed. It is important to give some
thought to the priorities which will enable us to reach out to the next generation. Role models are very
important. Church-goers are only human, after all. Some people view much of it as conservative and
traditional, and therefore out-of-date. A renewal is undoubtedly needed to reach out in a new way to the
young people in line with the present day and with the concepts of our religions. The older generation
has a major task here.

I have a particular concern about the countries which belonged to the former Soviet Union. For
centuries, religion was forced into narrow confines and could only exist in a few areas. The sects have
a particularly strong influence there. But it is also proof that the search for an answer is very strong. I
see this also as an opportunity and a responsibility, which we in politics must work on in conjunction
with Church leaders.

Mr Latchezar Toshev

Thank Chairman.
I would like to raise one general question: Why are the terrorists ready to die and at the same time
killing other people. This obviously is beyond normal human behaviour. Human life has no value for
them, not even for their one lives. What is the horizon of their fanatism, and what is the explanation of
their frustration? Is this xenophobia, or aggressive nationalism, or religious fundamentalism, or anti-
globalisation, created by the feeling that somebody else decides instead them? I do believe that without
answering these questions it is impossible to identify precisely the targets of the actions that we should

Yesterday we heard from a distinguished Member of the European Parliament, Mrs Doris Pack, that it
is necessary to organise a long-term policy connected with education. But this policy should be
extended not only on the territory of the European Union, not only on the territory of the Council of
Europe but further beyond. It should include the Middle East countries, the Mediterranean countries,
even some countries from Central Asia. In this respect I would like to refer to one document adopted by
the Council of Europe. This is the declaration on education for democratic citizenship based on the
rights and responsibilities of the citizens which was adopted on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of
the Council of Europe as a kind of a programme document, which is now under implementation.

The word responsibility is a kind of a key word in such documents. I would like to say that responsibility
in this sense should not be understood as an obligation, but as an ethical category which is achievable
by education and formation. In this respect people should know how to exercise their rights, and
respect the rights of others. Responsibilities towards others are the core of many religions but
especially in the Orthodox Church. This element is developed as respect for freedom of others. This is
probably one of the main characteristics of the Orthodox Church. Freedom is at the core of Christianity
as a whole. Our Lord is giving us free way to select personally our way for salvation. This free choice
should be done without any pressure from outside. That is why Orthodox Christians being very
conservative are very tolerant towards others. Given the differences, this is also one of the main
characteristics of the European model which is a linking element between Orthodox Christianity and the
European model.

I think, probably the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament should address this issue with you and
join this programme for democratic citizenship, which will be a guarantee that the aims of this
programme are achieved.
I believe that this is the right way to achieve our aims for a more tolerant and peaceful society in a long
term perspective.

Mrs Marina Gutierrez-Cortines MEP

As a Spaniard being concerned by the situation but also as a European, I see education as a tool. If we
want to achieve immediately practical results, although the Churches always think they must continue
to think in the long term, it has been demonstrated that it is very important to think in the long term in
the course of history. It is extremely important to agree some sort of document, in coming out with a
campaign amongst all the churches, to show quite unambiguously that we reject terrorism. There most
be no ambiguity whatsoever. We all know that there have been churches in certain parts of Europe,
and outside of Europe too, because of regional links, that have adapted ambiguous positions. As far as
that is concerned, I would say, that it should be made very clear at ecumenical meetings that we utterly
reject terrorism and violence.
When you communicate that because there is a very clear threat of an attack on Iraq, and if it comes
about, that is bound to lead to enhanced option for terrorism. In these circumstances people are getting
used to a culture of violence and terrorism, a culture of war. Following the war in Afghanistan it seems
to some people that it is natural to continue in Iraq. But we all know that will entail misery and death to
the country and further aggravate radical groups. I think, it is our responsibility as citizens. These are
moral duties indeed to spell out our position in favour of peace.

So with that in mind I would say that I am concerned about education. Education is a long term affair.
But I also think, that we have come to the stage where national governments are involved with the
teaching of religion. The religions, and those of us who feel linked to religion rather, I feel linked to the
Catholic religion, have to recognise that teaching cannot be provided just by private school, or by the
school with state support. We have to see whether we can have some parallel teaching, because we
are being swamped by secularism now. Secular education is the problem. There is a lack of faith.
There are no tools there for families to educate their children. Very often they do not even share the
church's priorities or costs. If you have secular society, with a media input with other cultures, we have
to embrace the responsibility to educate ourselves and future generations.

Lastly, a third idea. There has been a lot of talk this morning about tolerance between the Christian
churches and religions in other countries. I would say we have to adopt a clear position in favour of
religious freedom outside Europe. We have to promote of freedom religion everywhere and which
should be provided through pressure and deadlines. Because European countries practise this
freedom, if we really want Europe to be a strong force, we have to express that strength by defending
that freedom outside Europe whatever the answer might be.

Thank you.
Mr Andreas Pitsillides

As His Eminence, the Austrian Metropolitan, talked about the people of the church and the church, may
I say something on behalf of the Church if Cyprus?

I represent Metropolitan Facilso who is travelling at the moment. I would like to pass on to you the
answer of the Church of Cyprus as a response to that strong voice for which you called before, and of
which you said all Christian churches should be speaking as one in their condemnation of terrorism and
in their support of the preservation of the peace. In March the Church of Cyprus from the monastery of
Kiku organised an international symposium which was a religious ecumenical meeting, to which
representatives of all the Patriarchates were invited and also representatives of the Roman Catholic
Church and of the Anglican Church and even Hindu believers and others.

The idea was to bring out the pluralism of religion, but beyond that we did not want this seminar to
disappear off the historical screen after it had taken place. We were thinking in particular of the
Palestinians who were caught in the Church of the Nativity after the conflict with the Israelis and the
Palestinians, and a week after their arrival in Cyprus we set up a forum for helping. But it is also for
helping victims of disasters in other parts' of the world, e.g. the earthquake in Iran. We also want to
create the conditions for a forum for discussions on the Middle Eastern problem bringing together
Christians, Muslims and Jews, using of the Middle East as a traditional religious basis to discuss the
differences between our religions.

Once again I would like to invite you as Nicos Anastasiades did on behalf of the Democratic Rally Party
as president of this party.
I am looking forward to the next meeting taking place in Cyprus. As you know the Church of Cyprus has
expressed its willingness to organise your next session. In a part of the world, where Turkey has been
acting as lockkeeper for many years, I hope this will not be interpreted as a nationalist point of view, but
a matter of fact is that we need to bear witness to the way in which human rights and religious rights
are being trampled upon in that country. The extent to which religious freedoms have been interfered
because of the length of the Turkish occupation of the Northern part of the island. I have to say, that at
the moment some hopeful moves are taking place. Cyprus is a small territory but it occupies a very
important strategic position in the world, and it is an important cross-roads of cultures and religions.

Professor Grigorios Larentzakis

Mr Chairman.
Of course we must not be eurocentric, the problems are global, as September 11 has shown. But since
we have the European spectrum here, we can start with Europe and make more intensive efforts in
Europe. We hear again and again that we need a new generation that is brought up with new principles
and Christian values. For this reason, two themes have repeatedly been mentioned: the family and
education. There is indeed a major problem with the development of the family today. We know that
more than 50 % of marriages end in divorce. The major victims are the children.

I therefore propose that we do not merely talk in general about a range of themes but organise mini-
conferences. For example, those in the parties from the various countries who are responsible for
families could meet with representatives of the Churches in order to explore this issue intensively in the
various party manifestos and government programmes, starting with this dialogue. It must involve
Christians, the Churches in Europe, and those responsible for family and education and training.
That is one way of making the debate more specific: a precise debate on the issues with the aim of
integrating them consistently in the party manifestos and government programmes so that we do not
simply talk about them but actually make something happen. For the Churches and ecumenism, it is
important that the theological faculties of all the Churches work together, not only the Church
representatives, as the theological faculties could undertake the basic research jointly, irrespective of
denomination. The beginnings already exist: in Graz, from 4-7 July, the first consultation took place
between delegates from the universities of Athens and from England and Russia who are responsible
for co-operation and the development of various parties. This is structural work which will help us to
deepen the debate in this area if those responsible in the various parties for education and universities
can be sensitised to this issue. It is also linked with the structures in the ministries and will determine
how we get support for this specific programme.

Mr Carlos Robles Piquer

Thank you, Chairman.

Two comments I wanted to make regarding what has been said in our meeting.

First of all a comment of praise for this meeting. I think, it has been a desirable initiative to organise this
meeting. The two men organise this sixth meeting, which is taking place now, deserve merit. Six
sounds like a high number.

A point comes where perhaps you will need to look for freshness that will retain interest. Perhaps in the
future we could address the main problem, faced by religious which we in all modesty represent. Some
of the persons here with us are able to speak authoritatively. What is, that agonises, or indeed is it
atheism in Western societies, at least that is in Western Europe. It is a very serious problem. In Spain
90 % of the population claims a link to the Catholic Church. Nonetheless the numbers actually
attending mass on a Sunday rarely exceeds a figure of 35 %. In other European countries it is worse. I
read somewhere that more Muslims actually attend services in Mosques in France on a Friday than
French Catholics turn out to Church on a Sunday. If you bear in mind the difference in the size of the
population of the two groups you see what a huge gap there is. There is a very serious problem. Those
of us who are of religious persuasion need to address how we can tackle with agonised people and
atheism. Of course there are some such differences that we have here. Perhaps some sort of joint
approach is required her. Perhaps we need to form a united front to face a problem which exists

The basic obligation of Christianity has to be fulfilled. Just look at want is going on in Catholic and
Protestant countries. You find there is very low level of observance of basic religious practices. I think,
it is at a lower level than it is in the Orthodox world. But I do not have concrete figures to back up such
an observation.

The next comment I want to make is on an important issue which has been raised here. That is the
dialogue with Islam. It has been partial a dialogue, we only had one representative here, indeed a lay
representative, a minister from Bahrain. It was very useful to have an exchange with him. As we have
seen this is an exceptional example as the Islam that is practised in that Kingdom. But perhaps we
need a dialogue with Islam on some essential issues.
While we are meeting here the Johannesburg summit is going on. There are thousands of people there
sorting out problems, starting with Rio de Janeiro, problems with protecting the environment. Now they
are addressing poverty in the world. There has been a clear shift of emphasis in the conferences from
Rio de Janeiro ten years ago to Johannesburg today, via the various phases in between. It seems to
me that we need to put to the Muslim world in general and in particularly to the Arab world how we can
help that hungry part of the world to develop. People are protesting and searching for their right to clean
water and basic education. The voice has been made heard in Johannesburg.

Not all Arab countries but some of them are very rich, particularly in relation to their very small
population. Bahrain being a very clear good example. Saudi-Arabia has a large population but it is also
a very good example because of the vast bulk of its wealth. So what are those countries actually doing
to help the poor countries? I am afraid, that they are not doing very much, it seems to me. Now this is
an important question. They will not like us putting it, but I think that we do need to define some
common objectives together with them. In other words believing in one God, we are inheritors to
religions of the book. How can we co-operate in developing those countries' populations which have
very little or nothing. That might be a useful idea to feed into our dialogue amongst the monotheistic
religions. I think, we develop this without repeating what has been already done. If we do that, there is
simply a risk of re-hashing the same themes at every meeting. We need something new. It is inevitable
that we will repeat ourselves if we do not broaden our horizons or extend the range of speakers.

Two questions: One to Archbishop Trakatellis and one to the Representative of the Patriarchate of

I would like to know, whether in the United States, above all in New York, if you have seen the counter
phenomenon that often occurs when there is a major tragedy? In other words, an increase in the
intensity of religious practice. Have people turned back to faith? In countries such as those in Europe
which have undergone war and dramatic circumstances, at least war has tended to make people turn
their eyes back towards God.

Now I gather that in relation to 11 September there has been an upstart in solidarity. Solidarity is
something which applies amongst human beings. There has been an increasing love. It has been said
that a lot of babies are expected to be born this summer because it will be nine months since
September. This is a matter of human love.

My question is, and I would like to hear your opinion on this, if this terrible tragedy has also led to a
strengthening of religious feeling.

Another question I have to the Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate: You said during the course
of your contribution this morning, which was very interesting, you have this Council of Religions in
Russia which brings together various religions, including even the Buddhists. I was not aware that there
were many Buddhists in Russia. In that Council have you ever addressed an issue with which I am
concerned about as a Catholic? On a recent journey to Russia I talked to a number of Russian
Catholics and we discussed the problems which seem to be in organising a visit by His Holiness, the
Pope to Moscow. Catholics have always seen such visit as a sign of hope, of fruitful dialogue with the
Orthodox Church, which is so important in Russia and to the Catholic Church. It has been a great
disappointment to many of us that that visit has not taken place. I would be grateful for your comments
on that.

Thank you.
Mr Joachim Herudek

Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
I would like to return briefly to the issue of sects and agree that in Europe, the sects are seen as an
indication that there is a lack of spiritual orientation and leadership and a feeling of emptiness here.
However, I think we should not take such a ‘eurocentric’ view. In other continents, such as Africa and
Latin America, the sects are an outcome of poverty. Indeed, there are very many sects there which
have nothing to do with Christianity.

We should all be very concerned about this, if we consider for how many centuries Christianity was
present, especially in Latin America, and that as many as 90% of people or more were professing
Christians at various times.

I think one should give careful consideration to what we could do. I am deliberately not criticising the
politicians - I would have to voice far sharper criticism of them. The Churches are working very hard to
combat poverty. There are a great many useful papers, with repeated calls for a just economic order.
But we no longer have a Helder Camara.

Here, the issue of communication arises, in my view. The Metropolitan of Austria also mentioned that
the message is not reaching the grassroots, even though the Churches all have very committed priests
and members of religious orders working at grassroots level.

I was recently in Chile, and I have the impression that the members of these religious orders feel
abandoned by the hierarchy. The papers are of relatively little help if the criticism does not filter down
clearly from above. This includes not only the criticism of terrorism, as in Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay,
but also the criticism, and I put this in inverted commas, as it were, the criticism of State terrorism. We
cannot deny that terrorism is tolerated in some countries. This aspect of terrorism, in my view, is
criticised far too little by the Churches. I am thinking of Pinochet here, but there are many other
examples. How could the Church overcome this lack of communication between the hierarchy and the

Mr Tasos Mitsopoulos

Thank you Mr Chairman

It was quite right that in the course of today's and yesterday's discussion on the causes of international
terrorism, amongst others is the despair of human beings. There is clearly a lot of tension between
faith, as well as between races and nationalities. This arises because of a lack of systematic
communication and contact.
In Cyprus the problem is well known to you. We have recognised that in order to achieve a solution to
the Cyprus problem, a just, fair and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem, we must reinstate
confidence between the two communities of the Island, between the Christian Greek community and
the Muslim Turkish community.
In this respect I would like to report about a specific initiative which the Democratic Rally Party has
First of all we set up within this context with the political bureau of the Group a special secretariat for
the reconciliation of the two communities.
Secondly on a standing basis we have taken on a Turkish Cypriot employee. Maybe that is the first for
Cyprus. We are probably the first Cyprus Party to employ a Turkish Cypriot employee.

We also have regular contacts within the leadership of our Party and the leadership of the Turkish
Cypriot Party and other NGOs and organisations on the Turkish side. We have undertaken joint
initiatives in the context of these contacts to protect holy sites on both sides of the line, mosques or
churches which are at risk for whatever reason, or which have been neglected or where the passage of
time has caused considerable damage. Let me also say that with great success we have organised a
series of cultural events in the course of which we saw thousands of citizens participating from both
communities of the Island. Moreover we have set up a joint choir which this year held a concert in
Istanbul attended by Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Very often, unfortunately, these initiatives run up against a refusal by Mr Denktash, leader of the
Turkish Cypriot Community, to allow Turkish Cypriots citizens to participate in these events.
Nonetheless we pursue these initiatives and we are particularly encouraged by the positive response
which we have received among normal average Turkish Cypriots citizens.
As a way of overcoming the lack of trust from the past, let me say that this year for the first time and a
few month ago, about a hundred Turkish organisations, Trade Unions and other Turkish Cypriot
societies responded very strongly to an appeal to Mr Denktash not to impede further contacts between
the two communities and calling for the creation of an organised community of active citizens within
Turkish Cypriot society which will co-operate with other communities. There are other communities by
the way, like the Armenians, the Maronites, who are represented in the Parliament, all of us wish to
work together in the spirit of the united Europe.
Mr Chairman, I would like in my turn to repeat the invitation which the president of my party addressed
to you yesterday, the aspiration that we should host the next session of your Orthodox dialogue. We
feel a gesture of that kind would show support for our initiatives.
We will have to turn Cyprus from a place of conflict into a place of communication and dialogue.

HE Archbishop Demetrios

Thank you, Mr Robles Piques.
It is a very good question asked by many people. Namely what were the visible results of 11
September in terms of increasing the religious life amongst people. I would say that in general it was
expected because of the nature of the event. At the beginning there was quite a strong reaction in the
sense that people turned to religion. It is characteristic, at least I know from our churches, that we sent
immediately after the attack, the very same day, messages to all our communities to keep the churches
open beyond the normal hours. The churches were frequented by many people. This is also the
experience of the Roman Catholic Churches, the Protestant Churches, the Jewish Synagogues. It was
this attitude of the people who felt natural to run to these places of comfort, solace and also a very
psychological support. That was the very immediate reaction.
In the time that followed we did have an increased number. I would say, yes. But I do not think that at
least statistically I would be in a position to say: Yes, there is a twenty present increase in church going.
That is very difficult to say. Sometimes it might have been 50 %, sometimes it might have been the
same. The impact may be on religiosity but may not be expressed in terms of going to regular services.

I think, you offered quite an observation by measuring what happens in Spain with other places. In
America we have normally a high percentage of church going. But we have also the phenomenon,
which we call the "un-churched". The un-churched are Christians who are not frequent church goers. It
is a large group all over. I think, that this is the main task now for many churches to go first and bring in
these un-churched and make them just deliberately conscious participants in services. It is quite a big
challenge. There are many books written on that topic. The phenomenon is connected with the
diminishing number of people coming to priest-hood or to ministry, both in the Protestant and Roman
Catholic Churches. Therefore this is very important situation which basically has been helped
unfortunately by 11 September because of the magnitude of the tragedy.
Thank you.

Professor Grigoris Larentzakis

I will not be able to answer all the questions. I will simply focus on some of the points relating to the
sects. It must be said that the Churches, due to their attitude and spirituality, are not in a position to
compete with the sects. The sects work on the basis of brain-washing. They want to produce a
totalitarian mentality in people. In reality, they give their members no freedom. They make them blind,
so they can be made to do anything.

That is not the Church's task. The Church simply uses a pulpit for its sermons, and everyone is free to
decide for themselves, whereas the sects work on actual individuals and their specific weaknesses.
There is a personal relationship in which people's weaknesses are exploited, both spiritually and very
often materially. As a result, we have a very unequal conflict. But the sect phenomenon shows that the
individual has needs, and that he or she cannot live by bread alone. People need spirituality as well.
The Churches must take account of this. The sects posed a threat to the Churches, and they pose the
same threat to society. There are controllable forces within society and we do not know where they will
lead society, whereas society has sufficient reason to have more faith in the Churches, despite the
weaknesses the Churches display today.

Unfortunately, we have the phenomenon of schism to contend with. We are trying, through ecumenism,
to bear common witness as Christians. This is only partly successful. We cannot simply overcome
centuries of division in order to bear common witness. We are trying hard. I expect it is the same in
politics. You represent your parties, and you speak on behalf of your parties. But I do not think that all
the members of your party share your opinion, or that everything that happens here will necessarily be
carried forward.
Society today is convinced that religious instruction is necessary. We constantly hear, not only in the
Western world, but also at home in Greece, an almost exclusively Orthodox country, that discussion is
the modern approach today, while in other states, in which there is no religious instruction, there are
attempts to reintroduce it. A certain progressiveness prescribes that we must be modern. People think
that religious instruction is an obstacle to progress. That is a mistake that will cost us dearly at some
point. If the Church is able to provide sound religious instruction, it has a major task and responsibility.
The fate of a state, a nation and society will depend on our children tomorrow.
Are the states today convinced that the Church is a factor which can shape society? If that is the case,
then we cannot say that the role of the Church is restricted to adults; it must begin with the school-

A key question for the success of all these efforts, both by the Church and by the European Parliament,
is the role of the mass media in this context. Whether we want it or not, we are slaves of the mass
media today.

Let me ask you, the parliamentarians, this question: you know how much attention is paid to the
scandals. Tell me, how much attention is focused on this conference? These politicians and Church
leaders have not come together by chance for two days to discuss the issue of terrorism. A great deal
has been written about this issue; indeed, the whole world is affected by this phenomenon. Here, at this
conference, something positive is being done about terrorism. So how much attention will focus on this
specific event? There are a few journalists outside, but none here in this room. They will send in some
kind of report to justify their presence here and their travelling expenses. But acting as multipliers for
the spirit of this dialogue? That is not their role. The mass media are only interested in negative

The same applies to the work of the Churches. The Western press covered the Assisi meeting quite
extensively. However, it did not report anything new about the activities of the Eastern churches. We
see that there is still a division here. It is not that there is a lack of will. We are simply not in a position to
master all the challenges facing us at present. I am convinced that this is a major responsibility for
those who are shaping the new Europe. The politicians bear substantial responsibility. One cannot
degrade religion as a factor and yet make claims on the Churches. The Churches must be assigned
their proper role in society. If this enters the consciousness of those who bear responsibility for Europe,
things will change in future. The Churches will then face more significant challenges. Today, I can hide
behind the political stance on the role of the Churches in the new Europe. But if, tomorrow, the new
Europe grants the Churches the role which is their historic due, there comes a point when the Churches
must exercise this responsibility to a greater extent than they wish today. This also applies to the
dialogue with the other religions.

Has this Christian identity of Europe filtered into the consciousness of European politicians? I can
engage in dialogue with another partner: for example, if I am Orthodox, I can engage in dialogue with
Catholics or Protestants if I know what I am myself. I must be aware of what I am. Religious
denomination is part of the identity of today's Europeans. That is not to say that my national identity
makes me a nationalist. We enter the world with a national identity, i.e. membership of a nation, and the
same applies to the Church. If we were to abolish everything in the name of egalitarianism, we would
no longer be in a position to engage in dialogue, as we would no longer be what the dialogue partner
expected us to be.

The major problem in the inter-religious dialogue with Islam today is that Muslims are knowledgeable
about their religion, whereas we suffer from a lack of religious self-awareness. Much the same is said in
the scriptures. So that I can interpret my religion as a Christian, I must know something about it.
Muslims know about theirs. Unfortunately, it took September 11 to make the new Europe explore the
issue of Islam more thoroughly. Until then, no one had taken it that seriously. No one knew what it was
all about. I think that despite the profound grief aroused by the events of that day, they offered an
opportunity to explore this issue and not simply to say that Europe is largely Christian, but to recognise
that there are actually other factors with which we must live. The prerequisite for this is self-awareness
about one's own religion.
Thank you very much.

Dr Riad Jarjour

I come first to the question of sects. We suffer quite a lot in the Middle East from these sects. There are
so many of them that one does not know how do deal with it. They cause a lot of problems for us as
Christians in a Muslim context. In Jordan alone there are 54 groups or sects mostly coming from the
USA. They are working to proselytise not only with Islam but also with other Christians. There are many
who are complaining about these facts. They are becoming a cause of national division and religious
division. I think, that is where we need to help each other to see what could be done about these sects
and how can one limit their movement and also the big resources they come with. Mrs Schleicher said
they are coming with a lot of money. That is true. They are misusing that with many people and creating
huge problems for us.
Terrorists, they did what they did. I will respond to our friend from Bulgaria. It could be in poverty. It
could be despair. It could be religious. It could be the three together. The injustices in the world lead to
terrorism in my opinion. Imagine now if the USA makes an attack on Iraq. I want to say, there is a
general view in the region on that. What is happening there is happening as a Christian crusade against
Islam and the Arabic world. That is why it is irritating. That makes a lot feel that this is religious. You will
have then many people who will think that this could be a holy war against Islam, and that is the point at
which they have to defend it.
The war against Afghanistan was completely different. Now if Iraq is attacked, with the Muslim and the
Arab world against it, that will have different interpretations. It will lead to more terrorism. Believe me. It
will not help to overcome terrorism. It will produce more terrorists and the reasons will be with many
religious and unjust interpretations.

As for the churches I would like to say that the Middle East Churches are very active churches. They
are active on political issues, on social issues, on religious issues, on injustices and peace issues.
There is not one single day that the churches are not active. They are saying what they believe
concerning the issues in the region. What you said about this problem, it is not in Europe. The problem
is in our part of the world. It is in the Arab world as you said. So then put your hands in our hands that
you can help us and the Muslims in the Arab world who are moderate. We have heard that there are so
many. Put your hand in our hand in order to help us in overcoming our problems. You will not be able, I
am sorry to say that, but you cannot treat the problem from Europe and in such discussions. It has to
be treated back at home where, as you say, is the source. I think, that a lot of work is necessary, Mr
Chairman, to be done back home, where you were saying we are. That is, where I think, you are called
to co-operate with us and where you are called to play a better role. You have very good credentials as
Europe in the Arab world today. Make use of it and open dialogue with the Arabs and with the Muslims'
states. We as Christians are ready to support that initiative. Thank you.

Rev Anton Ilin

Thank you.

The state institutions are concerned in the area of fighting sects. This is a very promising area for co-
operation. I would like to talk about the Russian experience in this connection. In the following context
you mentioned the Council of Europe and European international organisation. Russia is member of the
Council of Europe, not a member of the EC.

When the Russians adopted a law on religious freedom and freedom of religious of movements that
was a kind of a compromise. It was not lobbying in the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church. There
were voices, very loud voices, from the State Department of the United States against the law. The
second institution which criticised it, and which expressed dissatisfaction, was the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe is dominated by a defensive approach to relations between the state and the

They speak of some special rights of the Orthodox Church. They speak of the protection of religious
rights. But to overcome sects it is a matter of national security. These sects are very active. I think, my
brothers in Ukraine might support me, as the sects are very active in Ukraine as well. The problem is
that the sects take the entire country, the entire territory as a kind of religious market for themselves.
But relations between denominations should not be based on the principles of a religious market, on
the competition, ... Because there are traditional churches, there are forms of spirituality for each

I am trying to address the current problem, our relation with the Roman Catholic Church. I expected the
question. I was ready to answer to it. I would like to address this problem because it is at the centre of
attention today. Our relation with the Vatican is a kind of very painful issue for us, because the religious
and theological dialogue which had been going on for decades has come to an end. It is not the
Russian Orthodox Church that is to blame. It is not our fault. The Russian Orthodox Church, is not
against the Roman Catholic Church but we are against those administrative decisions taken by the
Vatican which raise obstacles to cultivating relations.

It is obvious that in Europe the Roman Catholic Church is the major partner for a dialogue, for any
dialogue. What we need today is our common Christian basis for a United Europe. In order to compete
with sects in Russia itself, the Roman Catholic Church could be a partner to the Russian Orthodox
Church. But unfortunately decisions were taken which are contrary to this. Concerning the possible
meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch, this meeting should not become a kind of a show presentation
in front of the TV cameras and mass media. This meeting should be preceded by very serious
negotiations. There may be two approaches for such negotiations which is true of the Arab-Israeli
conflict as well. There are two problems to overcome: The Ukrainian issue, I am not going to dwell in it,
and the problem of proselytisation, which means that the Roman Catholic Church has always existed in
Russia, which spiritually addresses the needs of ethnic minorities. It has always been absolutely normal
for the country. But today the Catholic Church is so active in Russia that the people are converted to
Catholicism. Though they spiritually and traditionally have been always close to the Orthodox Church
because about 70 % of the population is Orthodox. Because they have been baptised in the Orthodox
Church. Maybe two thirds are not regular church goers. If this is not interfered with the number of
regular church goers to the Orthodox Churches will increase greatly.

The Roman Catholic Church should support us and help us. There are many representatives who have
very good relations with the German Catholic Foundations, with a number of dioceses of Catholic
Church in the theological schools and academies. We have lots of contacts. They have not been
disrupted. But the problem is that the Roman Catholic Church in Russia has taken up the position of
victorious nature.

The Metropolitan in Moscow is repeating the same arguments as the sectarian people used, which are
the necessity for religious freedom. Russia is not an Orthodox Country. There are many opportunities
for all kinds of churches, because they have not been seen growing successful. But for thousands and
thousands of years the word of God has been preached in Russia, and the tragedy we have gone
through during the communist godless regime certainly has left its stigmas and consequences. But this
type of religious market, which involves religious competition, between different confessions and
struggles for the souls of people, we cannot accept.

When are there voices heard on the part of the Hierarchies of the Catholic Church in Russia in
particular? That is why I believe the meetings between the Pope and the Russian Patriarch should take
place and will take place, that is my own point of view. Not in the near future but I think, it will happen in
the future. Though it is a painful matter, I think the next Pope certainly will reconsider his Eastern policy,
the policy towards the Russian Orthodox Church. We are roped into all kinds of dialogue, but we do not
see the opportunity because the Vatican has taken decisions without any consultations with the
Russian Orthodox Church, and it is not going to reconsider those decisions. We regret that fact
because, once again I would like to express, that the Roman Catholic Church is the major partner for
the Russian Orthodox Church in order to work out the common ground which is necessary for the future
of the united Europe.

Mr Wim van Velzen MEP

Let me make four comments on what has been said.

My first common point is that we are talking here amongst ourselves as Christians. I like to draw
attention to conclusion number one of our declaration. As a consequence of that conclusion number
one, let me clearly state when you are speaking, Father Ilin, about a prerequisite than I am speaking
about principles. One of the principles is freedom to believe but also freedom to convert yourself. There
is no monopoly of a church. No way at all. People are free.
Every idea of a monopoly means that a church can decide: Here is our market and you cannot
penetrate in our market, let me say it very blandly in those words. I would say, then we are dealing with
church politics, but we are not dealing with Christianity. I am very clear on that point. Because as soon
as we are going to think that there is one church, it does not matter which one, who can tell us: "This is
our garden and you have to stay out." then, I think, that we are not working as brothers and sisters in
Jesus Christ.

My second remark is the following: I share the view that it would be good when we could bring together
representatives, politicians who are responsible for family policy and maybe also education. It might be
interesting to see to what extent, taking into consideration what Mr Robles Piquer said, that we need to
reflect on a fresh approach, it might also be interesting to organise a more specialist conference with
persons, ministers, responsible for families affairs and education with the churches. I think that is a
highly valuable idea.

I also share what Mr Robles Piquer said about extending our dialogue to Islam. I think, that the highlight
now is the testimony of the Minister of Bahrain. I would say, that his intervention has given me a lot of
thoughts. I think, it is interesting for us to think about how to increase the dialogue between us and the
world of Islam. What type of formula do we need? Shall we do it on a country basis. Shall we invite
Bahrain to take the lead of shall we do it through our formula? Shall we find another formula. I do not
know. It is open for me to discuss. It is clear that the EPP/ED Group through the Euro-Mediterranean
contact is very interested in extending contacts with the Arab world and the world of the Islam.
Of course when we can combine elements it would be of great importance. Let us be open and reflect
what is the best way of doing things.

I also share the idea that we should think of new ways, new topics,...It is clear, that is in the draft
conclusion, that there is a big need to continue our work. Now, talking again as a politician, in 2004 we
will have the elections of the European Parliament. I am not sure that we can do it in 2004. So I can
see, that we have to organise a 7th dialogue with a formula that is something to be discussed in a
smaller group, that prepares as usual the dialogues. We have to talk about a new event in 2003.
Otherwise it would be 2005. Time is running very fast as far as I can see.

HE Metropolitan Michael

Chairman, may I make an objection to your first point. As regards the various areas of Christian
Churches, you are a politician, and maybe your background is different.

We as churches have a millennial experience. We went through the first thousand years of our
existence as a single church. Then we became very diverse but that only enriched us. It was not a
cause of separation. Today if we are trying to restore Christian Unity, the most important for all
churches what they subscribe to, major respect. One has to respect the other. We are not talking about
separate territories. We are talking about recognition that every church has the right to preach the word
of God. In spite of this Pan-Christian agreement on major respect, unfortunately it very often occurs that
we get the impression that not every one respects it.

For ourselves as Orthodox Christians the Catholic Church talks of a new evangelisation of Europe.
What does the Catholic Church understand by that? Does the Catholic Church understand that the
whole of Europe should become Catholic? Are there not limits that must be respected? The first
Cardinal of the Catholic Church says that the major task of the Catholic Church now is to help the
Russian Orthodox people to baptise their children in the Russian Orthodox faith and not as Catholics.

I do not want to intervene in relation between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian representative made it very clear. I certainly hope, that progress can be made through
further Dialogue.

It is part of a history which we as Orthodox Christians lived through in the 19 and 20 centuries, where
the Orthodox World was targeted as a missionary area for Catholics and Protestants alike. Otherwise
how can you explain that there are Protestants and Catholics in Turkey? They were all baptised
Orthodox Christians. There is not a single Muslim who has been baptised by the Catholic Church, until
up today.

Therefore I think, this practice has to be respected by the churches. We are not expecting the
politicians to do this. The agreements have to be respected. The signatures on documents have to be
respected. The fact is that this is not always the case. It is proof that there are other principles at work
than mature respect and open dialogue. I just want to make that point in order to make it clear, that
there will not always be the impression that there are churches which are very progressive, but there
are other churches which are conservative.

We want all the cards to be on the table. We want agreements that are reached to be respected.
Mature respect is part of the deal. There are territories where the Orthodox Church because of its
culture does not have any rights but its own roots. It cannot stop anyone from changing and converting
if they want to. But is religion something like a shirt you just change from one day to the next? Or is
there not indeed a duty for a church which, I am talking directly about the Catholic Church, a church
which was more or less ready for the change in 1990, is not the task of the Sister Church of Orthodoxy
to help the Orthodox Church to overcome the many problems which it has faced and not acting as we
have very often seen it acting. Maybe sometimes we saw it from the wrong perspective, but we felt that
our weaknesses were being exploited and the Catholic Church was deriving benefit.

So I must insist on respect for mature agreements. Nobody is claiming anything. Everything has been
attributed by God. But in terms of our history and our tradition we have to preserve what we have
inherited and pass it on to future generations.

Mr István Kovács

A very good friend of mine, who is a German priest, told me the following things: The sects are the
insects of the churches. Where there are many insects, it is not where dirt and disorder are big. Either
is actually a great misery. There the churches who consider ourselves as being historical should
actually fight but not against ourselves. It is not a brave thing to win believers from people who are
already Christian. A point is to fight the misery of either. Sects will only disappear when Christianity
regains its fundamental values.

When I was young and I heard about the atrocities of the atomic bomb, I was told that in the two
bombed cities the survivors cleaned the soil up to a depth of two meters. The soil was infected by
radiation. A clean soil was brought over there and life resumed its normal course.
Politicians and priest together, if they wish to talk about a truly Christian world with Christian values,
should understand these things.

I am very happy to see that the only party from the new Romania through its representative, President
Ciorbea, is here. They had the courage not to give up their ideals of a democratic and a Christian
nature. This is an idea which will not only have to remain within one single denomination. They need to
have the courage to bear fruit.
Thank you.

HG Bishop Casian Craciun

Thank you, Mr Chairman, distinguished panel.

In order to go deeper into this very important topic of sincere dialogue, a concrete dialogue between
politicians and various churches, I have in mind the Orthodox Church which, as you all know,
represents a Unity in the diversity of Europe's realities and of the whole world as well. The Orthodox
Church is deeply marked like other churches by the deep crisis underlying relations in human society. I
think, that your example in the European Parliament of addressing specific issues with the
Constantinople Patriarchate, where you can see all the other churches participating at the invitation of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate, this way recognising their co-ordinating role. It is normal to have common
problems. In order to get out of this dilemma I would like to suggest, that at a future meeting we should
treat very correctly the relationship between religion, politics and society. In particular I am having in
mind, the idea of poverty, aggressiveness, which put in difficulties, not only churches and priests, but
the people themselves, as Brother Kovacs mentions.

If we wish to respect the linguistic identity, the local identity, minorities, it is normal to start from the
respect for each and every religion. I do believe, that in the case of this particular dialogue the historical
churches will have to express themselves. The historical churches will have to start, as Mr Weninger
said, should evangelise their own belief. In the East people were very marked by the aggressive
communists, by persecutions. It is normal that churches are now being called upon in order to support
their own believers. Because otherwise if the Orthodox Church does no longer speak on behalf of its
believers it will no longer have a legitimate voice within the frame-work of the European Dialogue.

I am fully in favour of what Metropolitan Michael and Brother Antony said. That is why I think that in the
future we could organise a meeting in order to define more clearly the relationship between politics and
the serious political situations that each and every church is faced with. I suggest, that each church
should be called to evangelise it's own believers and those believers who wish to convert to another
church should do so after knowing Europe better. But today believers do not know their own culture.
We are talking about a soul for Europe. That is why I suggest that each Christian should find his or her
blessing in his or her own church. I also suggest that we should all build up a Europe of civilisation full
of Christian values.

Thank you.

Mr Carlos Robles Piquer

There are absolutely basic values for politicians: freedom of thought and freedom of religion.
We can never count an agreements amongst religious institutions, certainly including the Catholic
Church and other churches, which would actually confine freedom of thought and freedom of religion.
Because it is absolutely crucial for the working of democracy. This stage needs development.

Over the last 500 years we have moved away from the principles of Cujus Regio Cujus Religio to follow
the role as religion. We cannot accept any more that people are not free to move from one religion to
another. Our society has religious votes but it works because our society is fundamentally secular. With
this common secular basis everyone is in touch with his or her faith and all the churches are free to act.

It is not up to the state to preserve the churches' customer base. It is up to the churches to keep their
customers, the believers. It is not up to us politicians to encroach on the field of religion. It is no longer a
support for any one religion. It cannot be. It would just not work. There is a serious problem here when
it comes to the dialogue with the Muslims. Because there is a feeling that the state is there to serve
religion. That has come to an end in Europe. In relation to us and the Catholic Church, you have to see
it in the historical context. But I think, it is good that that link has gone. In the European Charter on
fundamental rights and the Convention on the future of Europe, it will not be abandoned.

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