Christians are able to act as witnesses of what is good for everyone, according to participants in the IV European Catholic-Orthodox Forum, which released a final statement today.
The nine-point message is the concluding document of the five-day meeting, which ends Friday.
“Our message – participants wrote – wants to be first of all a sign of joy and hope … we know that many are suffering and are in search of a word that gives sense to their life. Indeed where Christian faith and morality have been dismissed, a feeling of emptiness leads many to despair and nihilism. The Church offers consistent values by incorporating humanity in Christ, the source of all true values”.
The profound meaning that the representatives of the churches intend to give is “Faith in Christ does not abolish human diversity. It enriches and promotes the elements of truth and goodness already present in human cultures”.
The IV Forum was held in Minsk in the Belarusian capital, on the invitation of the Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus, His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Sluzk. Works were lead by the two Co-Chairs of the Forum, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Cardinal Péter Erdő, President of CCEE. Participants expressed their deep gratitude to the local Churches, to Metropolitan Pavel and to His Excellency Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk-Molihev, for their important commitment in supporting the Forum.
Works opened with a prayer for peace in Europe and the Ukraine in the crypt of Minsk’s Memorial Church of All Saints and Innocent Victims in the Motherland, an imposing building erected in testimony, almost a gift for future generations, of the long history of suffering and martyrdom of the Belarusian people.
In Minsk, the Belarusian capital, more than thirty-five representatives of the Orthodox Churches in Europe and of the European Bishops’ Conferences enthusiastically welcomed the messages addressed to them at the beginning of proceedings by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia read, this latter, by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department for Foreign Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
Wednesday, June 4, participants at the Forum met with some ambassadors to the Belarusian State during a reception hosted by the Apostolic Nuncio in Belarus, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, on the occasion of the Pope’s feast.
The meeting ended with visits to the National Museum and Library as well as to the local orthodox and catholic communities.
The meeting in Minsk has been possible also thanks to the many years experience of the ‘Saints Cyril and Methodius’ Christian Educational Center (www.christeducenter.by), whose great experience in organising ecumenical projects has been very useful, under the Presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret, currently Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.
The First European Orthodox-Catholic Forum took place in 2008 (11-14 December) in Trent in Italy on the theme The family: a good for humanity; the Second European Orthodox-Catholic Forum took place on Rhodes, Greece, in 2010 (18-22 October) on the theme Church-State relations, and the Third Forum took place in Lisbon in Portugal in 2012 (5-8 June) on the theme The economic crisis and poverty. Challenges for today’s Europe. The Acta of the previous Forums have been published in three different volumes by Editrice Dehoniane in the Oggi e Domani series.