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Welcome address to the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell



By His Beatitude, Archbishop Christodoulos

of Athens and All Greece to His Excellency, Mr. Josep Barrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament

Your Excellency, President Josep Barrell Fontelles,
of the European Parliament,

It is a special joy to welcome you, the first Catalonian President of the European Parliament, here, at the heart of the Church of Greece, at the Offices of the Holy Synod, an institution whose purpose is to serve and minister unto human society, which for us, Her representatives, is the Church.
It is indeed a great honour for the Church of Greece, the Church of a member State of the European Union since 1980, to welcome the President of the European Parliament, an institution that functions and is based upon the fundamental principles of Democracy, religious freedom, dialogue and mutual respect, that is to say, upon common values of the European Union and European society.
Indeed, our Church attributes great importance to the concept of a united Europe and plans to honour, with special celebrations, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for the establishment of the European Union.
Your Excellency’s accomplishments and your multitalented personage and statesmanship is well known to us, as are your efforts towards the achievement of European integration, and the maintaining of a balance among the members of the European Parliament ensuring their fruitful and constructive collaboration. Your statement that "the European Union, it is true, has some difficulties with integration; we all have to be aware that our diversities are a source of wealth. It is our responsibility to interlink them to give the EU greater cohesion and a meaning, so that each citizen can be proud of belonging both to his or her country and to Europe," is indeed characteristic. It is precisely on these very same lines and on this very same path that our Church charts its course. Putting forth and projecting the all-embracing values that spring from the Christian message, we declare that the Christian Churches of Europe participate in, contribute positively to, and are deeply and essentially concerned with the future of the European Union. The recent failure of the proposed Constitutional Convention demonstrated the void that exists between the peoples of Europe and the greater need for transparency on the part of Europe's institutional organs.
The Christian Churches work towards the adoption of all the values mentioned above, for they know better than others what man needs in order to function more correctly as a social and political being. The European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Commission must take the Churches and the religious traditions of Europe seriously into account and to inculcate their counsellors and collaborators with the centuries-long experience that the Churches possess within the history of our ancient European Continent.
Moreover, today's challenges necessitate the collaboration of all. And just as the European Union engages in talks with the representatives of Islam in an effort to build bridges in that direction, in the same way it should utilize the Christian Churches, which for so many centuries have advanced dialogue and reconciliation among people.
The Church of Greece fully supports the Dialogue between the world’s religions, between various traditions and cultures, for She believes that the existing diversity among peoples and nations is to be protected and can serve as an important factor guaranteeing the well-being of society.
Also, your experience, Mr. President, as a member of the drafting Committee of the European Convention, is a guarantee of your essential and on-going contribution to the cohesion and unity of the peoples and citizens of Europe.
The Church of Greece shall continue towards the goals that I have mentioned, and I wish to assure you, that both through our elected Greek European Parliament Members as well as through our Church's Office in Brussels, the Church of Greece shall contribute all She can within Her power to the advancement and future of Europe and its citizens.
In closing, allow me once again to express my great joy at having Your Excellency with us and to wish you a pleasant and fruitful stay in our Country and to assure you of my heartfelt prayers that God will bless and crown with all success your important work for Europe and her people.

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