Message from the Economic & Refugee Crisis Conference


Prof. Petros Vassiliadis – OCP News Service – 27/2/18

The conference on “The Economic and Refugee Crisis: Political, Religious and Spiritual Dimensions,” organized by SALLUX and CEMES and held in Thessaloniki 20-23 February 2018, to celebrate the second anniversary of the ecumenical initiative of H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His H. Pope Francis and the Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and of All Greece, who visited the island of Lesbos to alert the world community of the refugee problem,respectfully URGE our European and national leaders to act according to the biblical and relational principles toward the economic crisis facing Europe today and the solution of the refugee problem.

-Following the example and the ecumenical spirit of the above ecclesiastical leaders,representatives of the majority Orthodox Church of Greece, the Catholic Church in Greece, and the All-Greek Evangelical Alliance, have jointly REFLECTED in an ecumenical spirit,together with politicians and members of the European and the Greek parliament, theologians, NGOs of Europe and Greece,on the current problems of Europe, and the European Union in particular.

-Having reflected together during the conference we ANALYZED both the theological and the political aspects of the current multifaceted crisis.

-Based on the inter-disciplinary dimension of this conference and taking into consideration the expressed will of all Christians in Europe to cooperate, we DECIDED to establish stronger relations among members of different Churches, of Christian organizations and European citizens.

In this spirit we jointly DECIDED to addressthe following points of consideration:

-Having a fundamental conviction that the only creator of the world is God, who was fully manifested in His son Jesus Christ according to the Bible and the ages old Christian Tradition, we FEEL responsible for His creation and the world and society entrusted tous. This faith in the God unites us as Christians, regardless of the variety of approaches and solutions to the society and its challenges.

-We,as Christians,Understand our duty and responsibility to foster and advance political solutions in Europe by actively being engaged in the public discussion about the economic policies of the European Union, the refugee problem, and of course the future of European cooperation and integration.

-We POINT OUT that Christian NGOs and Christian politicians have tried to respond to the crises at hand. However, there has not been much opportunity to reflect on the broader political,religious,spiritual, and economic consequences and implications of the situation in a broad ecumenical setting. At this conference, with the assistance of politicians, theologians, sociologists, economists and activists of grass-root and ecclesiastical movements an overview and reliable picture was revealed of a phenomenon that requires clear and honest response by the European Union, including its Churches.

-We STATE that Christians in Europe have long ago reaffirmed that they are ready to work hand-by-hand with all people of good will and with secular institutions (political, social etc.), even of differing political persuasions, who share our common ethical values.Christian activists and politicians share responsibility for solving the crisis of this planet with other people, whether they are people of faith or not.

– We believe that we ARE CALLED to actively participate in any actions that support and endorse human dignity on all levels.Wetherefore consider as our obligation to contribute to overcome the divisions of the world, with the refugee problem being one the most evident example of the current crisis.

-We ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERLINE the difficult situation of minority groups like Christian, Yezidi and others, living within a predominantly Muslim population inside refugee centres throughout Europe. The harassment, assaults, rapes, threats and sometimes unjust treatment,need to be taken into consideration by authorities.

-As Christians we DEMAND the acts perpetrated by immoral traffickers and refugee smugglers receive an adequate response from the authorities, on the basis of the international laws and treaties already in force, regardless of religious affiliation.

-We CALL For a serious consideration of the Christian perspective on the economic crisis, which in the current political debate is beyond the old bipolar political divide between capitalism and socialism.We believe that “the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it”(Psalm 24:1). A real and just economy is arelationaleconomy.A relational economy includes all stakeholders (interests) in the economic process and deeply considers the relations between them and the impact of these relations on the economic process.

All above-mentioned concerns, thoroughly discussed in our conference, are the result of the Christians’ determination to address the structural sin, expressed in the intertwined contemporary crises, the economicand the refugee, from the perspective of the marginalized. The Christians in Europe are called to acknowledge the sinful nature of all forms of discrimination and to transform all unjust structures, thus safeguarding the sacred nature of every human being and of the earth.

Prof. Petros Vassiliadis – OCP News Service