Fifth European Catholic-Orthodox Forum

The fifth European Catholic-Orthodox Forum met in Paris (France) on 9-12 January 2017 at the Missions Étrangères de Paris. This is the fifth edition of the Forum, an initiative promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) along with the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the accordance of the Orthodox Churches present in Europe. It includes the participation of 12 representatives from the Orthodox Churches in Europe and 12 delegates from the Catholic Church. Among the Orthodox delegation were representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Churches of Russia, Serbia, Romania, Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Albania and Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Catholic delegation included representatives from Belarus, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkey.

Participants were welcomed on behalf of the local Church by His Eminence Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, President of the Assembly of the Orthodox Bishops in France, as well as by His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő, Catholic Co-President of the Forum, and His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Orthodox Co-President of the Forum (Ecumenical Patriarchate). Participants also attended a Prayer Service (Doxology) at the Orthodox Cathedral Church of Saint Stephan in Paris and an Evening Prayer in Cathedral Notre Dame with the veneration of the Crown of Thorns.

The theme of the fifth European Catholic-Orthodox Forum was: “Europe in fear of the threat from fundamentalist terrorism and the value of human person and religious freedom”. The program included presentations on “Human dignity and religious freedom” (by Bishop Florentin Crihălmeanu of Cluj-Gheria and Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Gennadios of Sassima),  on “Violations of the right of religious freedom: Intolerance, Discrimination and Persecution” (by Dr. Martin Kuggler  and Metropolitan Dr. Hilarion of Volokolamsk), on “Fundamentalism and terrorism” (by Prof. Gilles Kepel and Metropolitan Emmanuel of France), on “Social cohesion and the phenomenon of fear – the mission of the rulers and the contribution of the Church” (by Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz of Sandomierz, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Metropolitan Joseph in West and South Europe), on “The Churches’ commitment in the handling of conflicts and in the promotion of the common good and solidarity” (by Fr Olivier Poquillon and Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Chrysostomos of Messinia), on “The proclamation of Jesus Christ as a response to the threat both of fundamentalism and terrorism” (by Cardinal Péter Erdő and Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos).

The Orthodox-Catholic Forum stems from the desire to discuss anthropological, pastoral and cultural issues of crucial importance for the present and future of humanity with the aim of helping to define common stances on social and moral issues and does not tackle theological doctrinal matters, which are treated at other levels. The Forum does not at all substitute the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which has been at work since 1980. The First European Orthodox-Catholic Forum was held in 2008 (11-14 December) in Trent, Italy under the theme: The family: a good for humanity; the Second Forum took place on the Greek island of Rhodes, Greece in 2010 (18-22 October) under the theme: Church-State relations; the Third Forum took place in Lisbon, Portugal in 2012 (5-8 June) under the theme: The economic crisis and poverty. Challenges for today’s Europe; and the Fourth was held Forum in Minsk, Belarus in 2014 (2-6 June) under the theme: Religion and cultural diversity: challenges for the Christian Churches in Europe. The Acta of the previous Forums’ Meetings have been published in four volumes by Editrice Dehoniane in the Oggi e Domani series. ✙