2007, Migrants & Refugees

Migrants and Refugees in the UK – Report on the FiE Residential Conference at Llandaff

Report on Llandaff

Richard Seebohm

On 17-18 October 2007 Faith in Europe held a residential meeting at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Cardiff.
The theme was Migrants and Refugees.

St Michael’s is the Anglican Theological College of Cardiff University. It is walking distance from Landaff Cathedral. Some 45 ordinands were around (a gender mix, of course). Its financial future is secure just now; disabled access and en suite rooms are a future priority.

As an introduction to the theme, Aled Edwards, CEO of CYTUN, gave us a run-through of Welsh history, leading up to the benefits and frustrations of partial devolution. Migrants had come to Wales (including Moroccans) ever since Roman times. Celtic Christianity was a feature. The last indigenous Prince of Wales, however, was Llewellyn, ousted by Edward I – he complained of being treated worse than a Jew or a Saracen. Until the seventeenth century Tudor settlements (as in Ireland), women could own land but Jews were persecuted – wearing the yellow star. Under Elizabeth, the Welsh Bible and Prayer Book anchored the language. In spite of Henry VII’s Welsh birth, however, all public offices went to the English. The industrial revolution (initially helped by slave trade proceeds) brought prosperity and Irish Catholics to Wales.

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2007, European Union

Is the Expanded EU More Receptive to Christian Voices?

Is the Expanded EU More Receptive to Christian Voices?

Jonathan Luxmoore

(Note: This summary of a presentation at a Briefing Meeting on 19 July 2007 was updated in March 2008)

Is the Christian heritage of Europe being disregarded or ignored? Despite all the evasions and prevarications of recent years, can we be confident that the EU still embodies some kind of Christian purpose?

Three years after the major enlargement of the EU, controversy over the religious heritage of Europe and the specific Christian contribution appears to have calmed, and we are now in a more settled situation. There is clearly a deep reluctance to acknowledge Europe’s Christian heritage directly. As expected, there was no reference to God or Christianity in the EU’s new Reform Treaty, adopted at the last Inter-Governmental Conference in December to replace the ill-fated Constitution. But it is also clear that churches and religious communities are being listened to, at least sometimes! I personally don’t believe that we are witnessing ‘mass apostasy’ or ‘spiritual suicide’ in Europe (with due respect to Benedict XVI, George Weigel and others). The situation is much more complex and nuanced.

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2007, Rights - Religious, Human

Religious Rights, Constitutions and Legislation in the New Europe

Religious Rights, Constitutions and Legislation
in the New Europe

Peter Petkoff

After the Second World War, for the first time an international legal system was designed on entirely secular principles, and this meant that defining religious freedom was a particularly difficult task. We are faced with questions. Is there something about the secular project, at least in the way it was articulated in the post-Second World War legal order, that makes it impossible to talk about religion? Is there something about religion that makes it very difficult to reflect on rights language the way it is phrased in international law?

Religious rights discourse under international law was formed within ‘Cold War’ dynamics. It has framed the current jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as well as the approach of the UN and the OSCE. It is beset by three distinctive sets of problems.

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2007, Rights - Religious, Human, Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights: Moscow Meeting

The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights:
Moscow Meeting, March 2007

Conference of European Churches – Office of Communications Press release No. 07-15/e

23 March 2007 (Slightly edited for layout but not cut – Philip Walters)

Churches Stay Committed to Human Rights

From 20 to 21 March 2007 delegations of experts from the Russian Orthodox Church and from the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) met in Moscow to discuss about human rights.

The meeting was organised because the Russian Orthodox Church intends to adopt a basic document on human rights. Preparations for such a document began with the 2006 Declaration of the World Russian People’s Council and subsequent statements from members of the Russian Orthodox Church on human rights. These gave rise to the concern as to whether there is still a common basis for human rights related issues among member churches of CEC.

The most important result of the dialogue meeting in Moscow in this regard, is that the very concept of human rights is not under question. The Russian Orthodox Church wants only to raise some questions with regard to the interpretation of certain human rights, as H.E. Metropolitan Kyrill, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations put it. The Joint Communiqué of the meeting reads:

The two delegations agreed that the result of the present debate on human rights within the Russian Orthodox Church and among European churches will be to strengthen the churches commitment to human rights as laid down, for instance, in the United Nations Bill of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe’s Social Charter as well as in documents of the Follow-Up Conferences of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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