On Thursday, 11 April 2019, the Orthodox Academy of Crete (O.A.C.) held a Seminar titled “The future of Europe – European Elections 2019”, at the historical building of “Képos” in Chania, Crete. Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, Director of the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Institutions, represented the Committee of Representatives of Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU). K. Tsoutsoplidis, spokesperson for the Office of the European Parliament in Athens, and Th. Georgakopoulos, editorial director of the non-profit research organization “DiaNEOsis”, also gave speeches on the above topic. Dr. Konstantinos Zorbas, Director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, moderated the Seminar.
In his speech, Bishop Porfyrios gave an outline of the history of the European Union making reference to the vision of its founding fathers, to the accomplishments of the Union, affecting the lives of some 500 million European citizens, as well as to the most severe challenges that is faced with today (migratory crisis, terrorism, populism, Euroscepticism and public discontent).
In his analysis, he presented the views of the Orthodox Church on how these challenging questions could be tackled by the European Union. The member Churches of CROCEU have a positive stance about the upcoming European Elections of the 26th May 2019 and would like to urge their flock to exercise their civil right to vote, aiming at a European Union such as was envisaged by its founders, based on the European values and principles. The Orthodox Churches may offer a substantial aid to the European institutions, if the latter wish to render the EU more appealing to its citizens. His Grace underlined, among other things, that: “The European Union cannot survive as a beacon of hope if it merely follows the laws of the market as its guiding principles. We must restore and resume the spirit that inspired its founding fathers, which enshrines peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, solidarity, democracy, the rule of law, human dignity, and respect for human rights. The EU is not just a political and financial international entity. Without a soul and a heart, it can’t have any future, as former President of the European Commission Mr. J. Delors has remarked.”
The spokesman of the Office of the European Parliament in Greece K. Tsoutsoplidis stressed the negative effects of the rise of the extreme right, while underscoring the advantages of the European integration. The editorial director of “DiaNEOsis” Th. Georgakopoulos underlined the alarming degree of public ignorance about the way that the European Union functions and its practical consequences on the lives of European citizens. Finally, the General Director of the O.A.C., Dr. Kon. Zorbas, emphasized the need for educating and informing our citizens on EU-related issues, so that the European societies, through their members, may ensure a fruitful future for our Continent.
The Committee of the Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) was established in 2010 and consists of: the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Romania, the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, the Church of Cyprus and the Church of Greece.