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European Churches: CEC, international Peace Conference marking 100 years since Treaty of Versailles opens in Paris today

The international Peace Conference convened by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) at the Palace of Versailles – where the Treaty of Versailles, which officially marked the end of World War I, was signed 100 years ago, in 1919 – will open in Paris tonight. “Given CEC’s ongoing role in promoting reconciliation and building peace, CEC is hosting a significant international conference, with a twin focus on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the current global and European situation”, a description of the event reads. The Peace Conference, which will end on 12 September, is meant to reflect on the past as well as to provide greater understanding of the context in which we live today. “Reconciliation for peace as desired and as experienced in the different Churches of CEC can then become a central leitmotif for CEC in its wider engagement in society”. The conference today will be opened by Rev. Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches, and by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, together with Sylvain Waserman, Vice-President of the French National Assembly, and Claudia Roth, Vice-President of the German Bundestag. From tomorrow, discussion will focus on the Middle East, with the crises in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the region, and the continuing unstable relations between Israel and Palestine: “What responsibility does the Atlantic West have for the past, present and future?”. Other topics to be discussed include populism, sustainability and economics: “Just economics are needed to address the ongoing challenges of economic migration, in order to create a more just world and healthy environment. What responses are required to increasing populism and the growth of new forms of nationalism?”. Discussion will also focus on the Abrahamic religions and their role in building peace since “no religion by itself can build peace, but peace in the world may depend, in part, on peace between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This is especially true in a world where there are growing tensions between Christianity and Islam. An enhanced and sustained dialogue for peace between the Abrahamic traditions is an imperative of our time”. Speaking in the round table will be Rabbi David Rosen, from the American Jewish Committee, and Al-Sammak Mohammad, Secretary General of the National Committee for Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Lebanon. Finally, there will also be a reflection on “Europe’s peace vocation” and security role: “In the realignment of power blocs what is Europe’s role in the coming world order? Has Europe a distinctive peace vocation and what might it look like? What is the Churches’ role in helping to shape the peace vocation?”. The Conference will also be attended by Mgr. Youssef Soueif, Archbishop of the Maronites in Cyprus, representing the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).

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