Home > Belgium, European Union, Interfaith > EU sponsors interreligious meting on combatting poverty

EU sponsors interreligious meting on combatting poverty

BRUSSELS (WJC)–Leaders of all major faiths have held their annual meeting with the leaders of the three main EU institutions. Around twenty representatives from the Jewish, Christian Muslim religions – including World Jewish Congress Deputy Secretary-General Maram Stern – as well as from the Sikh and Hindu communities met in Brussels with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, and the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. They discussed effective ways of combating poverty and social exclusion as an imperative for European governance.

It was the sixth in a series of annual meetings launched by Barroso in 2005. For the first time the meeting took place in the context of the Lisbon Treaty which stipulates that the EU maintains an “open, transparent and regular dialogue” with religion, churches and communities of conviction. 

Barroso declared: “In Europe, several million citizens live at the edge of social exclusion. A poor testimony for one of the richest regions of the world! As Europe recovers from this crisis, I want to see a generation of growth which integrates the most vulnerable into main stream society.” He added: “Churches and religious communities are important providers of social services in EU member states. If we want to combat poverty effectively, it is essential to draw from their long standing and wide raging experience.”

Buzek added: “The promise of a better life for all without exceptions must always be at the heart of the European project. Combating poverty and social exclusion is a task for the partnership of all; local, national and European levels as well as laymen and churches. Our first and foremost priority is to restore social and economic security. Churches have a crucial role to play in this regard. They contribute with a long standing experience in social work with individuals and communities. This experience has never been as valuable as it is today in a time of crisis.”

Van Rompuy said: “We all know that this issue is mainly linked with homelessness, with a better access to the labor market, with the possibility to apply for health services, with, indeed, what can be called “the material conditions of life”. But combating poverty and social exclusion is also, in essence, willing to restore human dignity, the dignity of both men and women. And that is why societal, cultural and ethical questions should also be taken into account.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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