European leaders mark 10th anniversary of ecumenical charter
European religious and political leaders are marking the tenth anniversary of the signing on April 22 of the Ecumenical Charter, noting that cooperation among churches has affected European civic and social progress.
“The fruits of this ecumenical dialogue are being reaped every day,” said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Union (EU), as reported by the German Protestant News agency (EPD). Van Rompuy said that European politics are being fed by such initiatives, as religious communities remind people of a spiritual dimension beyond material aspirations. “With this in mind, religion can also strengthen the social capital and moral engagement,” he said.
Signed in Strasbourg, France by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Catholic Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), the charter laid out guidelines for increased cooperation among churches and warned against a socially divided Europe. The two signatory organisations represent virtually all Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic churches on the continent.
The charter has been translated into 30 languages and additional churches have signed on. In Germany at the Ecumenical Kirchentag (meeting of lay people and theologians) in Berlin in 2003, representatives of 16 churches signed it.
On April 12 2011, the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a motion noting that the Ecumenical Charter was an important part of “the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue.”
“It felt symbolic that the European political world is giving pride of place to the Charta Oecumenica (Ecumenical Charter) just here, in Strasbourg, where we signed this document precisely ten years ago,” Monsignor Aldo Giordano, the permanent observer of the Vatican to the Council of Europe, told the news agency Servizio Informazione Religiosa.
Anli Serfontein, ENI