Conference on Religious Freedom and Health Provisions in the European Union during the Pandemic
On April 15, 2021, the Chancellery of the Holy Synod and the Representation of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions organized the first from a series of conferences dedicated to the analysis and debate of religious freedom and the legal regime of religions in Romania and Europe.
The conference was held in a hybrid format, online and live at the “Dumitru Staniloae” Lifelong Learning Centre in Bucharest. Archdeacon George Grigoriță, Patriarchal Counsellor, moderated the presentations, interventions and questions from the audience.
In his presentation, Fr Sorin Șelaru offered essential data and statistics on the regulatory differences between EU member states regarding access to religious services. He also analyzed the ways of approaching and overcoming the difficulties and challenges posed by COVID-19 in Europe and the characteristic way each country has managed to bring a solution and adapt its requirements and prohibitions. Fr Șelaru brought into focus the fundamental international texts that regulate religious freedom, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Legal Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and others, connecting them to the contemporary discussion on the curtailment of religious rights during the pandemic through quarantine, temporary closure of places of worship or prohibition of religious gatherings. Bogdan Tataru-Cazaban talked about the relationship between religious freedom and the right to health, detailing the conditions under which religious freedom can be curtailed or restricted in its public manifestation. He explained what religious freedom means according to European documents and the way it is understood from a philosophical point of view, i.e., the relation between fundamental rights and the human person’s dignity, which is inviolable and so it presupposes respect for these rights.
The conference included questions and comments from numerous listeners, members of church administration from dioceses across the country, hierarchs, eparchial councilors involved in communication and media.