Christian Leaders Meet in Moscow
MOSCOW, MARCH 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Religious leaders of various confessions have discussed a plan of action to bring Europe back to its Christian roots.
Christian leaders from the Baltic States and former Soviet republics met Feb. 27-28 in Moscow as part of the preparations for the European Ecumenical Assembly to be held this September in Romania.
A unanimous decision was made to reactivate the Christian Interconfessional Consultative Committee. And a joint statement was drafted which calls on European states and societies to respect Christian principles and rights.
The working sessions were organized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The theme was "Contemporary Europe: God, Man and Society. Human Rights and the Moral Change."
Participants assailed the tendency whereby, in the name of equality and the desire to be "politically correct," European societies and governments try to legitimize practices that undercut the family.
In their statement, the religious representatives rejected "calls to validate same-sex unions, attempts to legalize drugs, the affirmation of the moral plausibility of abortion and euthanasia, as well as the insistent propaganda of the 'culture of death,' of enmity between nations and religions, of violence, [libertinism], homosexuality and other dangerous sins for the individual and societies."
"Sins cannot be justified in human rights," said Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. "We do not condemn the persons but the sins."
The ecclesiastical representatives highlighted the great responsibility that 21st century European Christians have: "It depends on us if Europe remains faithful to its Christian heritage or if instead it dies in history under the influence of powerful outside forces."
Europe has been "the most vulnerable in face of the devastating influence of materialism, consumerism, aggressive secularism, irreligion and moral relativism," they said.
The participants noted passivity among European Christians in exacting respect for their values and beliefs. They contrasted this to the example of Islam and Muslims' efforts to obtain tolerance for their principles.
The ecclesiastical representatives said that Christians must begin a dialogue among themselves, with society, governments and other religions, leaving aside what is "politically correct" in order to engage in truly open and constructive dialogue.
"We (Christians) have no less right than nonbelievers for our voice to be heard in society and to have influence in the making of decisions that shape in society principles of behavior and forms of life," said the participants.
Auxiliary Bishop Vitaliy Skomarovskyi, of Kyiv-Zhytomyr in Ukraine, said: "The meeting was very important, given that we had the opportunity to communicate with one another and this is what was important here, because we are faced with the same present challenges."
He added: "What makes me very happy about the meeting is that there was mutual understanding and that we felt the need to be together, because, although our points of view, our positions as Christians are different, at the same time, they are the same. When we intervene together, our voice then is very fruitful and we are heard."
One of the proposals approved by all the participants was the re-establishment of the Christian Interconfessional Consultative Committee.
Established in 1993 in Moscow, the committee aimed to maintain contact and serve as a forum for the exchange of viewpoints among the various Christian confessions of Russia and the former Soviet states.
The organization was active until 2002, meeting three or four times a year. Since then, it has been virtually inactive.
Metropolitan Kirill pointed out that its reactivation, now incorporating the Baltic countries and those that make up the Community of Independent States, has a practical objective: "to be the religious and cultural matrix beyond the borders of Russia, as well as of affinity in points of view on fundamental present-day problems."
Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of the Mother of God Archdiocese in Moscow said: "I am very, very happy about its re-establishment."
The prelate, one of the three presidents of the committee, explained: "The committee was the only organization for the discussion of common topics, for the resolution of problems and for the exchange of ideas. I am very happy that it is functioning again."