Orthodox, Catholic leaders suggest priorities for Europe

Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders met in Lisbon and urged European governments to find more juster and fair paths for overcoming the current financial crisis. Photo: Tito Wong
Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders met in Lisbon and urged European governments to find more juster and fair paths for overcoming the current financial crisis. Photo: Tito Wong
By on June 11, 2012

Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders have urged more imaginative measures to tackle Europe’s economic financial crisis, including firmer action to create jobs and curb “corruption and exploitation.”

“We have reached this point because finance has become detached from real economics – the economy is not governed by a political will, and politics is separated from ethics,” the church leaders said in a joint statement at the end of the third Catholic-Orthodox Forum in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 5 to 8.

The Forum, co-chaired by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Hungarian president of  the Council of Catholic Episcopates of Europe, and Metropolitan Gennadios from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate, ended as the European Union agreed on a 100 billion euro (US$126 billion) bailout plan for Spain’s banks.

The statement added that priority should be given to generating employment and eliminating corruption and exploitation, as well as to action by governments and institutions to find “juster and fairer paths” for overcoming the current crisis.

“The market is not a blind and anonymous force, but a place where useful commodities and services are exchanged to support the material, social and spiritual development of persons. The market must be regulated so as to foster the integral development of the human person,” the leaders said.

Catholic-Orthodox ties are widely believed to have improved since the 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI, helped by growing mutual contacts and a readiness to co-operate in promoting moral and spiritual values in Europe.

Russia and the Vatican upgraded their diplomatic relations to full ambassadorial relations in 2009, following improvements in the working relationship between the Holy See and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.

The Forum met in Greece in 2010 and in Italy in 2008. A news release said the Forum, which will hold its fourth meeting at Minsk, Belarus in 2014, had confirmed the “mutual esteem and desire for the Catholic church and Orthodox churches in Europe to work in common to give witness together to the Gospel of Christ.” Participants included representatives of 34 Roman Catholic bishops’ conferences and 16 Orthodox patriarchates and self-governing churches.

A separate Catholic-Orthodox International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue, which drew up a “road map” to unity in 2007, is to meet in Paris next November to finalize a document on papal primacy.

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