Churches urged to support migrant and other vulnerable minority communities

By staff writers
September 12, 2007

Delegates at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly meeting in Sibiu, Romania, concluded their weeklong gathering on 9 September 2007 with a call to the churches of Europe to deepen their support for migrants and other victimised minority groups.

In a four-page Assembly Message citing 10 recommendations for the future, delegates from Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Free Church traditions urged the continent’s churches to focus that care on to the Roma people in particular and to make efforts to “offer better pastoral care for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees”.

Acknowledging the continuing quest for Christian unity in Europe, the assembly recommended that churches renew their common mission “to proclaim Christ as the Light and the Saviour of the world”.

It also encouraged churches to continue dialoguing towards a “mutual recognition of baptism”, create more opportunities for common prayer, pilgrimages, theological education and study in support of Christian values, and that churches work towards “the full participation of the whole people of God”, including “young people, the elderly, ethnic minorities and disabled people.”

The assembly reaffirmed the Charta Oecumenica, a set of guidelines agreed in Europe for Christian interaction and cooperation, calling it a “stimulating” resource “for our ecumenical journey in Europe”.

The assembly exhorted European churches and European institutions to be courageous in addressing the needs of the whole world, while the Message recommended support for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the creation of a new “consultative process” among church organisations on the European role in addressing ecological justice, human rights and other issues of globalisation.

It also recommended the backing of initiatives for debt cancellation and fair trade.

The Third European Ecumenical Assembly - follwing similar events in Basel1989 and Graz 1997 - concluded with a new consensus to set aside the period between 1 September and 4 October on an annual basis to pray for the protection of creation and “the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change”.

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