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  – 14.10.2009

[Austria] Schwarz: "To Misuse Religion and Church for Ethnic or Nationalistic Purposes Leads Astray"

At a Symposium about Religion and the Turnaround in East Central and South Eastern Europe, the Canonist Commemorated the Charta Oecumenica as "Stimulating Guide"

Vienna (epd Ö) - In his closing remarks at the symposium "1989 -2009 Religion and Turnaround in East Central and South Eastern Europe” at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna on October 9th, Univ.-Prof. Karl Schwarz of the Cultural Office at the Federal Ministry for Education, Art, and Culture expressed the wish "that more turnarounds may follow and walls still towering between East and West will be torn down“. Schwarz said the following about the role of the churches in the pursuit of consensus throughout the whole society in the post-Communist states, "To find such a consensus is the imperative in pluralist societies. Without surrendering to a dictate of the majority, the church is dependent on cooperation - with everyone who is full of good intentions." This search for an acceptable consensus was tedious and should not be made easier "through premature coalitions with a nationalistic heritage". To misuse religion and church for ethnic or nationalistic purposes, lead people astray. Overall, according to Schwarz, "a certain cluelessness" was observed twenty years after the turnaround "in view of a possible ethical dominant culture, furthermore in view of tedious interreligious elementarisation work, in the spelling of common social aims concerning migration and integration, finally also in view of certain signs of fatigue in the ecumenical dialogue".

Schwarz regards the Charta Oecumenica, signed by the Conference of European Churches and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences in Strasbourg in 2001, as "one of the most important documents of the latest church history". The "guidelines for the growing cooperation between the churches in Europe” were a "sensitive compass for the coexistence of the churches”. The canonist and church historian regretted that the Charta Oecumenica had not been adopted sufficiently in the countries of East Central and South Eastern Europe. This could be possibly explained by the fact, "that their theological entitlement was run through from A to Z between Strasbourg and Geneva" and the document was therefore felt as too Western-oriented. Schwarz challenged the participants of the symposium, "Let us hold on to this stimulating guidepost, which has become an indispensable compass in these parts!" At the symposium "1989 - 2009 Religion and Turnaround in East Central and South Eastern Europe", specialists from thirteen countries of East Central and South Eastern Europe dealt with the background and motives of the 1989 upheavals in 25 lectures and discussions from October 7th-9th.

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