Hungary: The European Churches assess the diffusion of the Ecumenical Charter

Source: FSSPX News


Delegates from fifteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe, representing twenty different Churches, met in Budapest from November 27 to 30. During their talks on the progress of the diffusion of the Ecumenical Charter, adopted at Strasbourg in April 2001, the participants emphasized the contribution, made by the Churches of Eastern Europe.

This meeting was organized jointly by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE - Catholic) and the Conference of European Churches (KEK- Protestant).

In a joint communiqué, issued on December 2, the CCEE and KEK emphasized the contribution of the Churches of Eastern Europe, to the West and to the New Europe: "The East still carries today the scars of the past authoritarian regime. But the strength of their spiritual vigor and their artistic and liturgical magnitude enable them to make an invaluable contribution to the vitality of Christianity, in our secularized world".

The CCEE and the KEK have reported that "many initiatives of ecumenical collaboration are in progress: in Albania, exchanges have regularly taken place between the orthodox and Catholic seminaries; in the Czech Republic an ecumenical Kirchentag is being planned for 2005; in Romania, they want to create a shared calendar so that Christians can celebrate the most important feast days together". The two councils recognize that ecumenical problems still have to be resolved, notably in the Ukraine, Russia and Greece. They emphasize, however, that "there is a real willingness to continue the dialogue and the ecumenical process, because it is a treasure not to be lost, and there are mutual problems which can only be dealt with together".

Assessing the progress of the development of the Ecumenical Charter, the participants at the meeting, noted that the document is now translated into almost all European languages. "Dialogue, they stress, is not an ecumenical modus operandi; it is a principle. Furthermore, ecumenism is not optional, it is fundamental". That is why the delegates from Eastern Europe intend to put into practice, the content of the Charter in their respective countries: "The Charter, and particularly the principles which appear in its third part, are a positive contribution by the Churches to the definition of the European Union, which ten new countries will join, on May 1, 2004".

The collaboration between the universities and theology faculties of various churches is deemed equally important. To this effect, the idea of a center for ecumenical studies in Eastern Europe has been launched. The CCEE and the KEK are preparing a third European ecumenical gathering for 2007.