On the way to the great jubilee in 2013

Serbian Orthodox Church


Novi Sad, Serbia: May, 2nd – 5th, 2012.

Departing from the Everlasting values and permanent actuality of Edict of Milan, at the eve of the Great Jubilee 2013, the participants of the conference THE EDICT OF MILAN (313-2013): A BASIS FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF?, organized in the city of Novi Sad (SERBIA) from 2nd till 5th may 2012 discussed different aspects of ways in which the everlasting symbolic message associated with the so called Edict of Milan could be the source of inspiration and the guideline for practical implementation of principle of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The conference was organized and hosted by the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa and the Association of NGOs in SEE, CIVIS, in partnership with PRO ORIENTE Foundation and Peace and Crises Management Foundation and in cooperation with CEC.

It brought together theologians, historians and experts from different religious communities from all over the Europe and even beyond. The participants expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the excellent framework for a fruitful exchange of views in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which the organizers have provided. The following conclusions, offered by the organizers of the conference, may serve as a basis for the future cooperation in promoting freedom of religion or belief.

o The ideas that in the given historical and social context inspired the Edict of Milan should be taken as the symbolic starting point in a new contextualization of libertas religionis for everybody, being a member of majority or minority, according to the realities of our times and the changing world.

o Churches and religious communities would need to continue to work together on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief as well as to strengthen their cooperation with the civil society in order to unite their voices vis-à-vis the state which is obliged to guarantee the universal fundamental rights to freedom of religion or belief.

oFully aware of theological and behavioral differences related to the concept of freedom of religion or belief in various spiritual tra ditions that ought to be equally respected the participants came to the common assessment that such differences can be successfully overcome only if the dignity of the human person is put in the center of all concerns. In that sense universally accepted international human rights standards should provide the general legal framework for assuring the respect of human rights in the field of the freedom of religion or belief.

o Different models and experiences of Church and religious communities – state relations could serve as the useful empirical basis in creating the preconditions for constructive partnership between religious and governmental sectors of society with more effective impact of the civil society which in this respect should find with Churches and religious communities the objectively existing common ground. The participants emphasized the need for establishing of pertinent structural dialogue about all important issues for improvement of concretization in the area of the freedom of religion or belief. On their behalf, Churches and religious communities are ready to take the responsibility for preservation and development of all social values.

o Different forms and ways of cooperation and consultation between individuals and organizations already engaged in the projectEverlasting Value and Permanent Actuality of the Edict of Milanas well as welcomed contribution of other actors relevant for the domain of freedom of religion or belief should be intensified in the following period. This is the precondition for decisively achieving new dimension of quality at the next conference that should be held in year to come which is the year of the Jubilee of the Edict of Milan. The participants are convinced that by the successful common endeavor at this and previous conference within the same project sound basis has been created for substantial breakthrough towards the real progress in the utmost important and extremely complex sphere of freedom of religion or belief.