Articles and papers relevant to the State of Europe Forum 2013:
1. Europe in Crisis: Threat or Opportunity? Jim Memory Europe is facing multiple crises – economic, political, social, religious and environmental. How can we as Christians and as the church respond? This paper will be presented on Friday morning at the forum, and responses will be invited from various contributors and participants during the morning panel session.
Jim has posted a link with a Guardian article about trust in the EU hitting a record low http://www.guardian.co.uk/
2. The Relational State of Europe snapshot The Schuman Centre’s State of Europe Forum, held on 9th May each year, brings together Christian leaders from around the continent to evaluate Europe today in the light of the vision of EU Founding Father, Robert Schuman, for Europe as a ‘community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’: equality, freedom, solidarity and peace.
The sponsors of the Forum, ECPF, commissioned Jubilee Centre, in collaboration with Relationships Global and Relationships Foundation, to write a report on the quality of family, community, economic, and political relationships across the continent.
The Snapshot provides a platform for exploring how economic, political and social problems are ultimately relational issues, since their causes and consequences are largely in the realm of relationships. This analysis helps to point towards an alternative, relational narrative to individualism as the basis for public policy and national life.
This relational framework captures the vision of Schuman and the other founding fathers of modern Europe more effectively than the narrow economic view which increasingly dominates the political agenda. More importantly, it is a biblically rooted framework which offers a Christian basis for social reform.
3. The Global Charter of Conscience – Initiated by Os Guinness and shaped by more than 50 academics, politicians and others of many faiths and none, the Charter promotes a vision and framework to maximise religious freedom and justice for all. It calls for a civil public square, within which all are free to live out their faith, while ensuring the freedom of others to live out theirs. We all deserve our rights to be respected, but our rights come with the responsibility to protect and respect others.
We are delighted that the Charter will be launched officially in Ireland just before the State of Europe Forum. Os Guinness, Thomas Schirrmacher and other key architects and champions of the text will be with us at the Forum. At 15h30 on Friday, there will be an opportunity at the politics workshop to think in depth about what is needed to develop a civil public square.
Can we encourage you to download and read the Charter before you come to Dublin? You can also read some useful FAQs. Grab an opportunity to talk to people about its vision while we are together. And, if you know you are interested, come along to the politics workshop at 15h30.
Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion & Belief, had the last word as the Charter’s text was finalised and spoke eloquently at the global launch. He wrote for the Charter’s foreword, “In a world in which “the challenge of living with our deepest differences has been raised to a new level of intensity”, freedom of religion or belief may be more important than ever for the development of a culture of respectful coexistence and open communication. I see the “Global Charter of Conscience” as a strong support in this ongoing endeavour. May the Charter find many readers across continents, cultures and denominations.”
And may those readers take the vision and have a million and one conversations with others so that we can reverse the negative trends on freedom of religion and start building fairer diverse societies.
Julia Doxat-Purser. socio-political officer, European Evangelical Alliance.