STATEMENT OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF GREECE
ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
- The Orthodox Church of Greece follows with great interest the on-going dialogue on the future of Europe and considers her participation in this dialogue to be of significance both on a national and international level since it has to do with the future of the Greek people, 97% of whom are baptized members of the Church.
- The steadfast aim of the journey towards European integration is that the citizen should not lose his trust in, and respect for, Life which within the dimension of time is supported by those things that can neither be bought nor consumed, and are thus eternal values that remain incorruptible even within the vortex of the globalized market and the exclusive pursuit of gain.
- The Orthodox Church of Greece, throughout her long history, ever faithful to her spiritual tradition, has put forth the unique value of the human person as the image of God. For this reason she shares in the anguish of the poor, the unemployed, the refugees, the socially excluded individuals, the marginalized and the oppressed. She stands in solidarity with every effort to deal radically with these social problems and is ever ready to contribute in every appropriate manner towards the strengthening of trust, cooperation, justice, freedom and peace among citizens and peoples.
- The Orthodox Church attributes special significance to the institution of the family and to the youth and considers it exceptionally important to strengthen in every manner the means of social support and education, so as to ensure social cohesion and peaceful coexistence within the framework of Europe’s centuries-old spiritual legacy, which for the majority of the European Peoples is composed of a synthesis of the Hellenic, Roman and Christian Civilizations.
- The Church of Greece believes that Europe in its totality, not only cannot ignore the centuries-old influence exercised by Christianity upon all levels of human achievement and the marvelous monumental works of mankind’s cultural legacy that have come down to us, but must also renew the presuppositions for a new Pan-european rebirth within the framework of peace and democracy.
- She attributes special respect to the mystery of life and for this reason she faces, with justifiable sensitivity, all the institutional expressions referring to the continuation or quality of life. Hence, she considers the role of Bioethics vis-à-vis scientific research and its transparency to be especially important, since Biothetics aim at regulating the choice of extreme options by science in general and biotechnology in particular, so that the concern for the individual elements of man’s health does not destroy the sacredness of his person or of life, and that individual privacy always be protected as an invaluable gift of God.
- In 1872 the Orthodox Church officially condemned, and continues to condemn every extreme expression of nationalism, ethnophyletism, racism and every form of fundamentalism and seeks unity within national identity, while at the same time respecting the richness of cultural diversity among peoples. She thus positively contributes to the alleviating of any fear that the process of European integration poses a threat to the people’s historic and cultural identity, and avoids the danger of unwholesome nationalistic introversion. The inner elements of the identity of the peoples of Europe, as values, constitute strong links necessary both for their individual projection and for forming a single chain, thereby insuring the cohesion and unity of Europe.
- The Orthodox Church, appreciating the contemporary search for a common “European Constitution” as a democratic process whereby the diachronic conscience and spiritually legacy of the Peoples of Europe are to be expressed in specific legal provisions, submits the following proposals on the basic principles which she feels should permeate this Constitution:
- The principles of Religious Freedom and basic Human Rights are to be fully and specifically guaranteed and safeguarded, and deceitful proselytism forbidden, as proclaimed by the Treaty of Rome and confirmed by the functions of the institutions of the European Union.
- Respect for the common conscience of the Peoples of Europe concerning the Christian roots of their diachronic and contemporary spiritual legacy is to be ensured, without thereby violating the principle of Religious Freedom for all Religions or Confessions.
- Church-State relations, which have an historical diachronic depth for each specific People, are to be left to the internal Law of each Nation, within the framework of religious freedom, as this is specifically foreseen in Statement No. 11 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, so as to avoid undesirable and unprofitable tensions on sensitive questions pertaining to religious traditions that have determined or define the national identity of the Peoples of Europe.