The meeting with the religious leaders will take place on 16 June at the Berlaymont Building in Brussels, seat of the European Commission. The top-level operational meeting is regularly held among the organisations of the European Union and churches, religions, philosophical associations and non-religious organizations, as provided by Art.17 of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The results of the debate with the religious leaders will contribute to preparations for the European Union’s first Annual Convention on Fundamental Rights that will be held in Brussels on 1-2 October 2015 on the theme “Tolerance and respect: foresee and combat anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim phenomena in Europe.”
The topic chosen for the debate, “Coexistence and acceptance of diversities,” underlines – in the words of Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, that – “in our heterogeneous European societies, dialogue is essential in creating a community in which each feels at home. Living together means being able to accept the differences even in the presence of profound divergences.”
Among the 15 religious leaders invited, are the Catholic Church’s representatives: Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and President of the Episcopates’ Commission of the European Community (COMECE), and Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement.
Other participants will be Rev. Christopher Hill,President of theConference of European Churches (CEC), Metropolitan Emmanuel of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Antje Jackelén, Primate of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, Albert Guigui, Head Rabbi of Belgium,and Imam Khalid Hajji, Secretary General of the Conseil Européen des OulémaMarocains.
Developing the community spirit through dialogue is one of the objectivesof the Commission which, within the framework of the “Europe for the citizens” 2014-2020 programme, has allocated 185.5 million euros to co-finance projects assigned to awareness campaigns such as tolerance and mutual respect, and to create greater intercultural and interreligious comprehension among the citizens.
By accepting the invitation, the Focolare President, Maria Voce, underlined that the priority of the Movement she represents and in cooperation with other Movements, is to “build bridges through respectful dialogue at various levels and contribute to the coexistence of peace and fraternity among people of different faiths and from the most varied social and ethnic groups.»