On Tuesday 29 November, senior Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Mormon leaders gathered for the 12th annual high-level meeting at the European Commission. This gathering focused on “Migration, Integration and European Values: Putting values into action”.
Participants discussed a range of concerns relating to the global crises resulting in widespread migration to Europe, including the emergence of increasingly divisive public discourse about refugees, hospitality as an expression of faith, and how to best help newcomers make a positive contribution in society. Several speakers discussed the historical religious makeup of Europe, including the longstanding presence of Islam on the continent.
Held at the invitation of European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the work of last month’s CCME/CEC/COMECE dialogue fed into preparations for this meeting.
At a press conference following the event, representatives from the churches in Europe urged all to avoid the simplification of complex situations and to cultivate a welcoming culture for refugees following examples from Christian scripture and tradition. In light of the coming of Christmas and celebration of the Word made Flesh, they stressed that it is impossible to worship God without love of neighbour.
Timmermans spoke of his appreciation for the “intensive debate on the challenges we face in trying to make a success of the integrations of newcomers to European society”. He noted that “migration will be an element of our present and our future”. The religious leaders were encouraged by Timmermans in their work in sharing values, respecting differences and fostering mutual understanding without looking for assimilation.
Photo: European Commission