Canceling Christmas? Extraordinary Meeting with Margaritis Schinas, VP of the European Commission
Rev. Fr. Sorin Selaru participated Friday, 10 December 2021, to an extraordinary meeting hosted by Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, organized in the framework of the institutional dialogue between the EU and the Churches of Europe based on Art. 17 TFEU.
The online meeting was motivated in particular by the recent media discussion provoked by an internal European Commission document recommending inclusive language redacted by the Commissioner of Equality. The meeting also addressed other important issues for religious communities.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, on behalf of the European Commission, and a representative for Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, CEC, Comece and CROCEU.
From the outset, the Vice-President appreciated the richness and beauty of the European identity, which must respect freedom of religion, and stressed that religious celebrations are an integral part of this identity. He acknowledged the deep connection between Europe and religion, recognized at legal, cultural and spiritual levels, highlighting their crucial role in fostering the foundations of the EU. Religion is part of the European DNA, Mr. Schinas said.
Each of those invited had the opportunity to present the point of view of the Church or religious community they represented. Most of the participants emphasized the importance of respecting religion and religious traditions in a democratic society, and in particular by the EU institutions. Some of the participants stressed the need to appoint a new special representative on religious freedom as soon as possible. The forthcoming High-Level Meeting with religious leaders was also discussed as an important contribution of the Churches and the religious communities within the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Fr Sorin Selaru, Director of the Representation Office of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, present at the meeting on behalf of the Committee of the Representatives of the Orthodox Churches (CROCEU), stressed that mutual respect and cooperation in society do not mean value depletion and uniformization, but enrichment, including with religious values. To illustrate the danger of uniformization and arbitrarily imposed instructions on how to express oneself, Fr Selaru brought to attention the restrictions of Communist authorities in Romania on religious freedom and expression. He also disclosed serious concerns regarding the concealment of spiritual dimensions in the decisions taken by European institutions and the disregard of Churches’ stances regarding pressing problems and subjects of today’s society. For this reason, he expressly requested that the European institutions should consult with Churches and religious communities, especially when considering recommendations that have an impact on religious issues.
Vice-President Schinas responded to each question by assuring that he would convey the concerns and suggestions of the representatives of churches and religious communities to the College of Commissioners and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.