European church leaders meeting here called for a dialogue with other religions about the future of Europe, while underlining the need for the process of European integration to be based on shared values and a common vision.
“Europe is home for people of many nations, cultures and religions,” the Christian leaders said in a statement issued on Dec. 14, following a two-day meeting. The statement described diversity as characteristic of the continent’s identity. “This diversity of cultures, traditions and religious identities must be respected.”
The meeting brought together participants from 50 churches and 28 countries and was organized by the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches. The commission groups more than 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, and Old Catholic churches.
The meeting took place on the eve of a European Union summit, which was expected to confirm a slowdown in plans for further expansion of the 25-nation grouping following the entry of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007.
The church leaders said they welcomed the entry of the two eastern European countries into the EU on Jan. 1. However, as far as possible membership for Turkey and western Balkan states was concerned, they said “commitment to agreed principles, to the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and support of the population are essential.”