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The annual meeting of the President of the European Commission, Mr. J.M. Barroso with the religious leaders of Europe was held for another year. The subject of this year's meeting was the future of the European Union. The meeting was also attended by the President of the European Council Mr. Van Rompuy and one of the Vice-President of the European Parliament Mr. Lazlo Surzan. The Religious leaders: Christian denominations (Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans), Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Mormons took part in it. The Church of Cyprus was represented by the Director of the Office of the Church of Cyprus in the European Institutions, the Bishop of Neapolis Mr. Porfyrios.

The President of European Commission Mr. J.M. Barroso, among others, stressed that “Across Europe, dialogue on the future of Europe is taking place at all levels. Integration and legitimacy have to advance in parallel. More democracy is the corollary of the greater institutional integration needed to enable the European Union to rise to current global challenges. In this respect, there is a pressing need to strengthen links between EU citizens and the democratic process of the Union. I strongly believe that the active involvement of Churches and religious communities can contribute decisively to this reflexion”.

President Van Rompuy stated: “Over the last years our common home has been in the centre of a heavy storm. But it has overall resisted well, thanks to both the framework of its values and the soul of the house - the soul that resides in a certain idea that we pursue, in the Union, of the human person and the relationship to the other”.

Vice-President Surján declared: “Churches, religious associations and communities have been during the crisis a bastion against the deterioration of the social fabrics that makes Europe: they have contributed not just to the economic, but also to the social and moral recovery of the continent”.

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The Bishop of Neapolis in his intervention underlined, among others, that “A large number of our European compatriots share the conviction, given the conditions of globalisation under which the European Union is developing, that the strength of those who are already powerful is being further reinforced, while nothing is being done to strengthen those who are weak. This results in an even greater widening of the chasm between rich and poor, powerful and weak states and peoples, North and South. The European cohesion mechanisms that were designed in a spirit of solidarity often give the impression of functioning on the basis of economic theories and bureaucratic approaches, irrespective of the social outcome”. On the other hand he referred the various work of the Church of Cyprus that “over and above its natural and deep interest in the fate of our millions of desperate fellow-men throughout Southern Europe who are victims of the financial crisis, has organised an extensive network of social support in the framework of its responsibility but also on a broader scale, though obviously without being in a position to act as a substitute for national or European social support structures”.

Finally, all the participants of the meeting adopted a common statement on Mrs Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to a hundred lashes and sentenced to death by hanging on charges of apostasy and adultery. Sudan has ratified the relevant conventions of the United Nations and the African Union and therefore has an international obligation to defend and protect Human Rights and religious freedoms.

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