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  – 13.02.2006

[Austria] From Graz to Sibiu: Ecumenical “Relay Handoff”

Ecumenical Weekend in Graz in the Run-Up to the Third European Ecumenical Assembly

Graz, February 8th, 2006 (epd Ö) – At the ecumenical service on February 4th in the Stadtpfarrkirche Graz, the official “relay handoff” for the Third European Ecumenical Assembly (3EÖV) was carried out. In 1997, the Styrian capital was the setting of the large church assembly after Basel (1989); in September 2007, the churches of Europe will meet in Sibiu/Hermannstadt. In the context of the worship service, the president of the local committee of the Graz assembly, Prof. Grigorios Larentzakis, handed over the liturgical candle, which bears the logo of Basel already, later received the logo of Graz, and is now adorned with the logo of Sibiu, to the Romanian delegation.
A high-ranking Romanian delegation, among them the Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Transylvania, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Laurentiu Streza, the Protestant Vicar Episcopal of Transylvania, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hans Klein, as well as the Roman Catholic parish priest of Sibiu, Dr. Oskar Raicea, had come to Graz to exchange experiences in the run-up to the European assembly. Since Sibiu/Hermannstadt will also be European Capital of Culture in 2007 – this way (indirectly) in succession to Graz as well, there were numerous contacts on the political level during these days, too.
The Ecumenical Weekend in the House of Education Graz-Mariatrost was under the theme of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly from February 3rd to 5th: “The Light of Christ Shines upon All of Us – Hope for Renewal and Unity in Europe”. On this motto, Univ.-Prof. Viorel Ionita, director of studies of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Geneva, Univ.-Prof. Dietmar Winkler from Salzburg, church executive Prof. Dr. Raoul Kneucker from Vienna, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Grigorios Larentzakis from Graz, Dean Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hans Klein from Sibiu as well as the head of the Graz cultural office, Dr. Peter Grabensberger gave a lecture in front of a 100-people audience. Among the attendants of the meeting were the chairman of the Council of Churches in Austria, Bishop Mag. Herwig Sturm, and his predecessor, Rev. Mother Christine Gleixner.
The chairman of the Ecumenical Forum of Christian Churches in Styria, Superintendent Mag. Hermann Miklas, emphasised in his introductory statement that the manner, in which Christians and churches interact with one another – also and especially in the areas engaged in conflict – had the character of a model for society. Church Executive Kneucker said in his oral report that the European Union rested on the two columns “economy” and “political union” until now. A third, social column and the notion of a community of values respectively was not included in the previous contracts. If this was wanted, it only had to be proposed. The churches played a special role in this. Metropolitan Bishop Laurentiu Streza emphasised in the discussion that the better understanding of others gained in the ecumenical movement did not have to lead to an adulteration of one’s own identity, but that actually the reverse effect was often observed – growing tolerance and growing self-assurance.

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