The Archbishop of Esztergo-Budapest had strong words at the opening of the European Orthodox-Catholic forum, in Paris.
"The oppression of religion and religious experience is not a solution. There can be no negation of God to avoid tensions. On the contrary, secularism weakens society's life and only brings insecurity," said Cardinal Peter Erdo at the beginning of the gathering.
The forum, which runs from 9th-12th January in Paris, is examining the theme of Europe in fear from the threat of fundamentalist terrorism and the value of the human person and religious freedom.
The Orthodox-Catholic forum was created in 2008 to examine anthropological, pastoral and cultural questions, considered important by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Attention is also being focused on moral and social issues which will affect both the present and future generations. The majority of the forums members are Bishops, 10 Orthodox and 8 Catholic.
This year, the forum is giving special focus to questions of human dignity, religious freedom and religious intolerance, fundamentalist terrorism and the mission of rulers, along with the contribution of the Churches.
Cardinal Erdo's address focused particularly on the links between the external threat of fundamentalism and an individualistic and consumerist society. "Who threatens us? Who does it hurt? Who does not feel the need to respect and care for the dignity of the human person?" he asked the delegates. He also observed that "We see a growth, especially amongst young people, in a great desire for radicalism and a life which is not banal or trivial. This desire, however, does not have to bring fundamentalism and, even less, a hatred of others but rather, as Jesus taught, to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself."
The end of the first working day of the forum was marked by a prayer service at Paris' Orthodox Cathedral of St Stephen. A Catholic service of Evening prayer will be held at the Cathedral of Notre Dame on 11th January.