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Catholic-Orthodox forum insists on respect for religious, educational freedom

Catholic World News - October 28, 2010

The Second Catholic-Orthodox Forum, organized by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, took place in Rhodes (Greece) earlier this month. Participants discussed the theme “Church and State Relations: From Historical and Theological Perspectives.” The Forum is not a theological dialogue; rather, it seeks to highlight common Catholic and Eastern Orthodox “moral and social doctrines.”

Participants called for increased respect for religious freedom throughout Europe. “Our churches wish they could participate more actively in the ethical and moral debates concerning the future of the society,” the participants affirmed in their final communiqué. “According to us, our countries in Europe cannot disregard their Christian roots without being destroyed, since these ethical stakes are key for our future in a globalized world.”

They added:

The Churches are willing to make themselves heard as regards the protection of life to be of the unborn child, the assistance to people close to death, the family created in line with the traditional Christian understanding of marriage, the care towards marginalized people, the acceptance of migrants, as well as the protection of the cultural and linguistic identity of European countries. The Churches have the obligation to sensitize to these issues and defend the dignity of the human being created in the likeness of God. In particular, the Churches reaffirm the right to conscientious objection for healthcare professionals not willing to practice abortion or euthanasia.
Participants also called for a greater respect for parental choice in education.

The participants in the Forum insist on the freedom of education, recalling that the duty of education lies with the parents, who must decide for the education of their children. The State must not impose an ideology through the school system for which it is responsible. As far as the Church is concerned, it has an inborn right to provide the children of requesting families with an education in conformity with Christian principles. Religious education must be made possible in public schools in agreement with the Churches. Schools and training institutes managed by the Church should benefit from the financial support of the State just like public schools, since they perform the task of forming responsible citizens acting for the common good.

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