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Conference of European Churches adopts new constitution
(Vatican Radio) Following the conclusion of a meeting in Budapest this month, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) has begun operating under a new Constitution that includes moving its original offices from Geneva to Brussels to improve ties with the European Union.
As our correspondent Stefan Bos reports, the move comes amid pressure on CEC members to show more unity more between the different churches and to increase social programs among impoverished migrants and other vulnerable groups:
After a sometimes turbulent 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, or CEC in Hungary's capital Budapest, delegates approved the group's new Constitution "to help the European Churches to share their spiritual life, to strengthen their common witness and service, and to promote the unity of the Church and peace in the world."
CEC's new document will impact its members, including 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all European countries, and 40 associated organizations.
Anglican Bishop of Guildford, England, Christopher Hill, was elected as new president of the CEC to lead the group under the new Constitution.
The document came after Hungary’s Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog, a Reformed pastor, warned that “relations among the churches seem to have estranged”, 20 years after the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe "just as the enthusiasm they exhibited in 1989 has vanished, too."
Balog said it was also "regrettable" that in this new era not enough has been done to "renew Europe on the basis of Christian values," though he praised cooperation in the area of integration of impoverished Roma, also known as gypsies.
Europe's struggling migrants was another key topic during the gathering. The CEC announced that the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe, Europe's main rights watchdog, will investigate its complaint about the situation of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands who it claims are mistreated, despite that country's rich resources.
The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit, said it was important for the different denominations to work with migrant churches and not to forget the Church's mission. "If the churches in Europe together do not, in humbleness and with commitment, transmit faith in our Triune God to the next generation, who will do so,?" he asked.
Apparently feeling a social calling under the new Constitution, CEC's original expensive offices that have been in Geneva, Switzerland since its foundation in 1959, will be merged "as soon as possible" into the Conference’s location in Belgium's capital Brussels, "home of the European Union and related institutions.
The office in Strasbourg, France, will continue, though its future remains somewhat uncertain.