CROCEU public statement on the Istanbul Convention
STATEMENT of the Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Churches
to the European Union on the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing
and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence
The Committee of the Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) strongly condemns violence against women and domestic violence. The Orthodox Church sees all men and women equal in their dignity before God and equal in their rights within society. According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church man and woman are to treat each other with respect and honour. The Orthodox Church honours women in the person of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ who is more honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim”.
Being aware of the fact that the protection of women from domestic violence and other forms of violence needs effective legal tools and measures to be dealt with, CROCEU welcomes the intention of the signing parties of the Convention to provide a legally binding document aimed to create a common comprehensive framework in this area.
CROCEU takes into consideration that the Istanbul Convention entered in force on 1 August 2014 and had been signed by almost all member States of the Council of Europe and by the European Union.
CROCEU, however, expresses serious concerns about the introduction into the text of the Convention of a new legal term, namely “gender” and other terms related to it. Ongoing public discussions about the true meaning of this term confirm the lack of the unified and unanimous approach to its interpretation among those who are supposed to implement the Convention into the legislation of their countries.
There is a strong reason to believe that the Convention could be used as the first step towards future attempts to legalise the notions of “gender” and “gender identity” in the context, which would contradict the biblical teaching about men and women and relations between them (“slippery slope argument”).
CROCEU invites the countries that have already signed and ratified the Convention to interpret its provisions, especially the term “gender” and terms related to it, within the understanding of “two sexes” as created by God, namely male and female.
As Christians, we support all efforts on both international and national levels to protect women against violence. We do believe that legislation in this area has to be provided with legal terms and aiming to support family in which a man and a woman love and respect each other, building harmonious relations. Let us remember Saint Paul’s teaching about family: a holy union of a man and a woman created and blessed by God.
We therefore call upon the European countries to work on a legal framework that will protect family as a social value. As Orthodox Christians, we call upon all those of good will to promote the sanctity of the institution of family and its importance for safeguarding the future of Europe.
The Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) was established in 2010 and consists of representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Romania, the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, the Church of Cyprus and the Church of Greece.