EU and religious leaders discuss solidarity between generations
By Anca Gurzu | Thursday 12 July 2012
Demographic changes, high unemployment rates, women’s low level of participation in the labour market and difficulties in managing pensions are some of the issues that threaten the traditional European societal model – and religious leaders can play an important role in tackling some of these challenges. This is the message EU leaders wanted to put across at their high-level meeting with religious leaders, on 12 July.
“Ultimately, we will only be able to come out of this crisis and lay the foundations for a prosperous future if we keep solidarity between people and generations at the heart of our actions,” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said at a press briefing, surrounded by more than twenty senior representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions, as well as from Hindu and Baha’i communities from across Europe.
The meeting was the eighth one in a series launched by Barroso in 2005. The Lisbon Treaty enshrined this type of dialogue into law.
“Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and their NGOs, schools and organisations [...] can play an important role in improving understanding and mutual learning between generations,” Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
But the officials and representatives also faced tougher questions about solidarity. Specifically, the permanent representative of the Church of Greece to the EU had to explain why – despite the current financial challenges of the Greek people - the Greek church does not have to pay taxes. His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios said the church as an institution pays taxes, but not the places of prayer.
The list of participants is available at