Action on labour and life

Church and Society Commission: current commitments

If the member states of the EU are trying to define a new economic, social and ecological strategy to face the challenges of the next decade, then a feeling of responsibility for the situation of people in Europe is inseparable from the traditional commitment of the Churches. This responsibility also includes the economic and social aspects, as a result of which the Churches provide social and healthcare services, among others. To reinforce the work of the Churches in this period of crisis in the field of employment and its socio-economic implications, the Church and Society Commission (CSC) of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) is launching, on the initiative of its member Churches, a new European Initiative. It is a network, “Call”, acronym of Church Action on Labour and Life, which intends to become a forum to exchange views and experiences on these questions in the various European countries and, thereby, to bridge gaps between Europe societies. It should also be a clearing house for common initiatives of the Churches in the field of employment, by offering, for example, information on education and training. The network will be launched with a conference in Brussels on 28-30 April 2010.Churches of Europe and Latin America reflect on globalization. Work is continuing on a joint document which should be published in the first part of 2010 on the issue of the consequences of globalization. The process took a further step forward with the second meeting between the members of CEC’s Church and Society Commission and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) held in Norway at the end of November. Apart from the document, the joint work is leading to a fruitful rapprochement between the two delegations. In the words of Franklin Canelos, CLAI’s Executive Secretary, the most substantive outcome is that “as the process continues, we are reaching a consensus on a number of themes. Although we still have different positions in other fields, as a result of our different historical experiences, we are now able to identify a number of common areas of concern and so define joint actions”. And he added: “We will always remember with gratitude all the work that the CEC/CSC and the Church of Norway has done for the dialogue”.Promoting the mobility of youth without discrimination. The Church and Society Commission, together with CEC associated youth organizations ETCE and WSCF, took part in the European Commission consultation on the Green Paper “Promoting the learning mobility of young people”. The Green Paper sees mobility as a crucial element of education which helps develop new linguistic and intercultural skills. “The ecumenical activities of church-related organizations – comments the CEC – contribute a lot to these aims and open up possibilities for people of all ages to gather and exchange experiences with people from different cultural and denominational backgrounds”. Attention however needs to be paid to the fact, points out the CSC, that “persons with special needs, unclear legal status, precarious financial position or persons in the care of others should not experience any disadvantage, either on the labour market because of lacking mobility experiences or in their access to mobility programmes and financial resources.” Mobility, as point of qualification on the labour market, “conceals the danger of discriminating against those without formal mobility experience and can reinforce already existing imbalances”. The CEC associations further add that education means more than “preparing young people for the labour market”.Forthcoming events. The Task Force of the CSC on globalization will hold its next meeting on 17-18 February. On 2-3 March, at a meeting of experts convened by the CSC, preparations will be made for the contribution of the Churches to the common position of the EU in view of the reform of the Treaty for the non proliferation of nuclear weapons, scheduled to be held in New York in May. The 8th assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) will be held in Prague from 9 to 13 June. The CEC is also working together with the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) on the preparation of a seminar on the ethical dimension of the market economy. The newly elected Church and Society commission will meet for the first time in June.

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