On 7 – 8 June 2019, Patriarch Daniel of Romania held an international conference under the title “State – Church Relations in the European Union”, which took place at the Patriarchal Palace. Representatives from other Orthodox Churches: Bulgaria, Cyprus and Greece participated in the conference, as well as academics from Romania, Italy, Germany and the Vatican. Representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament, specialized in the field of dialogue between the institutions of the EU and the churches, also took part in it. Patriarch Daniel of Romania addressed the conference, as well as representatives of the Romanian government, which presides over the Council of the European Union during the 1st semester of 2019.
Invited speakers presented the various forms of State – Church relations existing in member-states of the European Union, as well as future challenges and perspective of those. Officials of the European Union outlined the dialogue between the European Institutions (European Commission and European Parliament) and the churches, religious associations, philosophical and non-confessional organizations, as provided for by article 17 of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The representative of the Church of Cyprus, Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, presented the relations between the Cypriot state and the Church of Cyprus from its founding up to our days. Among other things, he noted that:
“In Cyprus, relations between Church and State have always been strong and, to a great extent, “healthy”, insofar as there was a clear differentiation of roles and mutual assistance. In those areas where the State left room for pastoral action on the part of the Church (e.g. in the sector of Education and in the field of family law from 1960-1990) the positive results were evident in all aspects of social life (improved sociability and mental health of citizens, a fall in anti-social behaviour, etc.) In those areas where the State managed to reduce the influence of the Church (e.g. in the field of family law in recent years), the consequences proved harmful to the State itself since basic institutions (e.g. marriage and the family) were eroded and damaged.
On the part of the Church, insofar as the clergy made the most of the room for action granted by the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Cyprus and did not act in areas unrelated to its mission, the benefits were not only spiritual (i.e. concerning the salvation of souls, which is the main mission of the Church) but were, by extension, social, reinforcing the standing and civil power or the Cypriot State.”