LISBON, JUNE 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting from His Eminence, The Orthodox Metropolitan of Spain and Portugal, Polycarp on the occasion of the Inaugural Session of the III European Catholic-Orthodox Forum.
* * *
It is with great joy, as Orthodox Metropolitan of Spain and Portugal and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that I greet you all, participants in the 3rd European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. I extend a particular fraternal greeting to His Eminence Cardinal Josè da Cruz Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, the Church hosting the Forum, and the eminent Co-presidents of the Forum, Cardinal Péter Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, and the Metropolitan of Sasima, Gennadios, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The theme of this Forum is very interesting and highly relevant: The economic crisis and poverty: challenges for today’s Europe. Our old continent, like the whole of humanity, is affected by a serious economic crisis. In particular this crisis has struck southern Europe: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal. There is no need to emphasise that the economic crisis is the product of the great spiritual and moral crisis which today the whole of humanity is experiencing. Deviation from the principles and spritual and moral values and placing exclusively money and material riches at the epicentre of interest has had a direct, negative repercussion on the life of society. The absence of controls and rules results in an increase in inequality in society. The rich become ever richer and the poor, poorer, the middle class disappears, unemployment and poverty dominate, and respect for the weakest is lacking, all situations which we encounter daily.
Unconstrained eudaemonism and consumerism are short-lived situations, as world history teaches us. Far from God, the only true source of all good, there is no authentic prosperity and tranquillity, the law of the jungle is supreme. We live in a time of apostasy and we must tackle and interpret the economic crisis as a trial inviting us to return to the arms of the Providence of the God who is Good and Friend of humanity. A Europe without its Christian and Greco-Roman roots has no future. People have tried and continue to try – without success – to unite Europe chiefly from the economic point of view. The aspect which unites Europe is not the Euro, but the immortal Christian and Greco-Roman spirit, just as the Holy Fathers of the undivided Church united them in exemplary fashion.
Dear brothers in Christ, as Pastors we experience daily and directly the negative consequences of the crisis of our faithful, many of whom have for some time been without work and many of whom have also lost their own homes. The Church, as their one true loving Mother, cannot remain indifferent to the pain of millions of men and women belonging to its own people. Our Churches must dynamically support this suffering people and lead it towards the right path, constituted by a return to the principles and spiritual values, a turning back from the temptation to divinise money and sterile eudaemonism and consumerism, because “man does not live on bread alone”. Everything comes and goes. Only the Church remains, according to the explicit statement of its Head. Christ through His Church offers solutions for every problem and we, as Pastors, must help our people to understand that and return trusting in Him.
Our forum is meeting at a very significant time. Immediately after Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost, these three great Feasts and salvific Events, which our two sisters Churches have just celebrated with a week’s difference. The Victor over death and sin, the Risen Christ, with glory ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father, had fulfilled His promise. Through the proceeding of the Holy Spirit on the part of His Father, he always remains among us.
May the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, enlighten everyone so that as soon as possible we may come out of the great trial we are experiencing, a trial for which we are all responsible, and especially those who govern.
Finally, I, too, as Orthodox Metropolitan of the Iberian Peninsula, would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to His Eminence the Cardinal-Patriarch of Lisbon, who is hosting the 3rd European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. I pray that the Lord may grant him good health for many years, through the intercession of our common Saints Fathers of this land: Potamio of Lisbon, Martin of Braga and Damasus Pope of Rome. To all participants I wish you all the best for the work of our Forum. Thank you!