CEC conference on freedom of religion or belief

General Bishop Miloš Klátik was attended the Conference on freedom of religion or belief, which was organised by Conference of European Churches (CEC), from 7th to 9th September 2015.

On the Conference were invited human rights experts, participants from CEC member churches, civil society, academia and the European Institutions into theological school of Halki on the Turkish island of Heybeliada. Participants discussed and debated approaches to advancing freedom of religion or belief. Topics included the need for religious literacy, the role of religion in the public and political spheres, the need for greater internal and external coherence of EU policies, and case studies on the Turkish context. Increasing severity of the refugee crises was named in many contributions made at Halki. The crises in Syria and Iraq, and the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities emphasise the urgency of advocating for freedom of religion or belief in Europe and beyond. As CEC continues its efforts at the European level and urges Member Churches to continue their advocacy and dialogue with national governments to end the suffering and persecution of refugees and asylum seekers.

CEC President Rt Rev. Christopher Hill acknowledged Turkey’s generosity in welcoming upwards of 2 million refugees. Hill also remarked that freedom of religion or belief in Turkey remains a complicated issue. The ban on private higher education remains, the situation in Cyprus remains unreconciled, and relations with the Kurdish people require healing.

Participants also enjoyed a warm reception at the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

At the conclusion of conference participants released the statement as an outcome of their time together at Halki. Final words of statement: „As Churches we work with political and civil society for the flourishing of this diversity supported by law and the propagation of all human rights, including those to belief and the practice of faith. Churches should approach their respective Governments on the issue related to the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Promotion and Protection of Religious Freedom. Let us face the task together. Let us hold our hands, not only in prayer but also in solidarity with one another. We owe it to our God, to each other and to the world.“

Source: http://www.ceceurope.org/index.php?id=1824

Lucia Martonová, secretary for foreign relations, foreign@ecav.sk | 8.10.2015

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