In Munich last week, a Congress of the interdenominational Christian community, held under the motto “Christian communities and movements. Together for Europe”.
The Congress was attended by 1,700 representatives from 200 of the Christian communities and movements from 40 countries. Among them are the leading experts on interfaith dialogue, as well as the leaders of the major Christian movements and international organizations, such as the General Secretary of the world Council of churches pastor Olav Tveit Fix, President of the movement of Focolare Maria Voce, President of the Community of Sant’egidio Marco Impagliazzo, its founder Andrea Riccardi, a Yale University Professor Miroslav Volf, Metropolitan Seraphim Joanta (Romanian Orthodox Church), Bishop Seraphim Sigrist (American Orthodox Church), one of the pioneers of the movement “Together for Europe” the priest Christopher d Aloisio from Belgium (Patriarchate of Constantinople).
Russia was represented by the Dean of St. Filaret Orthodox Christian Institute (SFI) priest Georgiy Kochetkov. Video greetings sent to the participants, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Congress was held under the auspices of UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
A full report on the forum was published Tuesday on the website of SFI.
Christian communities and movements can combine polarized European society, said at the Congress the President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strom. “Christian unity opens up the prospects of the churches richer than we can imagine”, he said.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the representative of the Catholic bishops Conference of Germany, stressed in his speech that the condition of such unity – the perfect reconciliation of Christians, adding that the source of power, which is achieved by this reconciliation – meeting: “the Other person gives us strength and helps achieve mutual understanding.”
“Until we resolve the most pressing European problems, they will overtake us,” said Gerhard Pross, Chairman of the organizing Committee of the Congress, former General Secretary of the YMCA in Germany. – Europeans must learn to live together.” Fifteen years “experience of dialogue of diverse Christian communities and movements, aimed at the creation of a single community, very enriching,” he said, referring to the Christian movement “Together for Europe”, which has organized this Congress in Munich.
The movement “Together for Europe” brings together more than 300 ecclesial movements and communities of various faiths who seek to overcome the tragic separation of the Churches. At the forefront of this initiative – the presidents of the two Catholic lay movements: the late founder of the movement of Focolare Chiara Lubich and the founder of the Community of Sant’egidio Andrea Riccardi. Among the most active participants of the YMCA in Germany, the German Catholic movement “Canstatt and other major Catholic and Protestant movements, as well as representatives of Orthodoxy. Together they seek answers to the main challenges faced by European society through the care of the world, the protection of life and environment, and equitable development of economy, improvement of cities and the creation of fraternal relations between the Europeans.
This experience allows Christian communities in Europe “to oppose the centrifugal forces of fear, the path to a new unity in the hope”, said Gerhard Pross.
The Orthodox view from Russia
For a story about the experience of the Christian movements in Russia at the Congress this year was invited by the rector of SFI priest Georgiy Kochetkov is the founder of Transfiguration brotherhood, the largest informal Association of believers in the Russian Orthodox Church.
“The question of Christian unity in our country was essentially, in the days of the Gulag, that is, during the particularly cruel persecution of the Church by the Soviet authorities, – said the rector of SFI. – In Soviet concentration camps suffering was such that prisoners are not asked who to which denomination it belongs. There is the dialogue of life and for life contributed to mutual reconciliation and brotherhood, including interfaith”.
Perhaps more important in the Soviet years was the search for unity within the Orthodox Church, said the representative of Russia. “When they had an unspoken rule “no more than two or three is not going to”, among those who, overcoming fear and separation, still looking for meetings in Christ, sometimes there is a real fraternal and even communal ties, he said. – In this way, in a circle of believers in Christ friends in Moscow began in the late 60’s-early 70-ies of our movement”.
Georgy Kochetkov told about the good relations the Brotherhood with the movements of other religions, and also about the experience of praying together with them. Speaking about the current stage of the dialogue, he noted that “aggression is evil in the world, no less than it was in the terrible XX century. And we have to deal with it traditional for Christians – multiplication of love, faith and trust. Nothing else in our hands and hearts will never.
Georgiy Kochetkov is sure, that Christians “need you feel the pain of lack of unity, and in General all the fullness of ecclesial life, not just interfaith”.