The EPP Group held its 23rd Annual Intercultural Dialogue with Churches and Religious Institutions today. The event brought together leading MEPs, with high-ranking representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities, and academics.
In his opening remarks, Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group, said: "For us, Europe is a union of values. The European way of life protects the freedom of all religions and it sticks in the same way to our Judeo-Christian heritage. The EPP Group is the only political group in the European Parliament which has a longstanding, unique institutional and structured relationship with Churches and religious communities. In the difficult times in which we are living, we believe that dialogue between religious communities is a much-needed tool to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and strengthen the European way of life."
On behalf of the European Parliament, First Vice-President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola MEP, responsible for the Parliament’s dialogue with Churches, religions and non-confessional organisations, highlighted: “The European Union - all of us - are living through an unprecedented number of combined crises: environmental, economical, geopolitical and social. To that, COVID added a health crisis, while the terrorist attacks in the past weeks have reminded us of the urgency to tackle extremism and counter radicalisation. Religious and secular leaders play a crucial role in tackling this scourge on our society. European values, indeed the European way of life, are intrinsically tied to our religious and cultural heritage and we must continue to promote our values of openness, tolerance and acceptance within our communities.”
Jan Olbrycht MEP, co-Chairman of the EPP Group Working Group on Intercultural and Religious Dialogue, added:” It is very important for politicians to know how Churches read and interpret the expectations of Europeans towards the future of Europe. We should not focus on the past or its narratives. Instead, we should focus on the future that we can shape through dialogue. Such dialogue must be based on equal treatment of partners and should not only include Church leaders, but also people as members of the Churches. We, as Christian Democrats, should be the pioneers of this dialogue."
György Hölvényi MEP, also co-Chairman of the EPP Group Working Group on Intercultural and Religious Dialogue, concluded: “As the COVID pandemic and the resulting complex challenges have made people open to new messages and ideas for their future, great opportunities await Church leaders and decision-makers to reshape their perspective on Europe and our societies. With thousands of years of experience of Churches and religious communities, Europe desperately needs to find itself in the 21st Century. With this year’s meeting, religious and political leaders are showing that they are taking responsibility not only for their own political, religious or ecclesiastical communities, but for the future of society as a whole.”
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States