Penalizing families

Conclusions of the meeting on immigration in Europe held in Istanbul

“It is the institution of the family which suffers the most from some unjust norms that regulate the phenomenon of migration”, says the final communiqué that the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and the Conference of European Churches issued on 11 March, at the end of the annual meeting of the CCEE-CEC Joint Committee which had been opened in Istanbul on 7 March on the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I. This year the members of the Joint Committee – chaired by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest for the CCEE and Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (Ecumenical Patriarchate) for the CEC – decided to examine the phenomenon of migration. Family and migration. “Often – lament the European Churches in the final communiqué – the family nucleus is forced to be broken up due to the lack of any possibility of family reunion”. A matter of particular concern is that “the first victims of such policies are the children who grow up in a social context deprived of the joint affection and education of a father and a mother because they are entrusted to grandparents, if not to distant relations or neighbours. This causes serious forms of depression among members of a family and, in some cases, even suicides have been recorded”. “Europe – continues the communiqué – has perhaps still not yet clearly grasped the devastating significance of this phenomenon for its future. Instead, it must be clear that our societies cannot do without the family and family unity not just for the good of the person but for the whole of society”. In their final communiqué, the CCEE and CEC, after three days of discussion and debate, once again reaffirm their conviction that “justice and charity are the guidelines for all Christian conduct” in response to the phenomenon of migration: “lawfulness and justice on the one hand, the proper and absolute recognition of the human dignity of all people, and compassion for those most in need on the other, ought to form an organic whole”.European questions. “Some currents of thought are spreading throughout Europe which harm the dignity of the person and concern the Churches because of an anthropological model somewhat far removed from the culture of life and the natural model of the family”, charge the participants in the Istanbul meeting. They were also informed of current issues concerning the European institutions and the activities of the Church organizations specifically established to handle relations with the EU, namely COMECEE on the Catholic side and the CEC’s “Church and Society” Commission on the other. With regard to European questions, the final communiqué declares: “There are serious questions about the ostensible values which hitherto some EU representatives, through European legislation, have tried to spread in individual nations, especially in matters of education, the role of religion, the meaning of life and the traditional family, and the very identity of the person”. In particular the Churches express their concern about “the planned law on non-discrimination” which “could have serious repercussions on the life and activities of church bodies”. The participants were also informed of parliamentary initiatives about the protection of work-free Sunday; the European Commission Consultation on the revision of the Directive on family reunion, in particular on the right of citizens from Third World countries legally resident in the EU to be reunited with members of their own family; and the proposal for a directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. This proposal – explains the communiqué – “concerns reducing recourse to tests carried out on animals (for example in the area of pharmaceutics) as well as promoting the alternative methods that are available. One of these alternatives consists in the use of human embryo stem cells”.Looking to the future. The CCEE and the CEC recognize “the importance of the joint work undertaken in the past in the area of relations with Muslims in Europe”, continues the communiqué, and therefore “intend to pursue this dialogue at local and continental level, with bilateral meetings between a Church and a Muslim association or group, or through projects and initiatives promoted jointly between CEC and CCEE”. The next annual meeting of the CCEE-CEC Joint Committee will be held in Belgrade (Serbia) from 17 to 20 February 2011 on the invitation of the Catholic Archbishop His Grace Stanislav Hocevar, member of the joint Committee.

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