By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we, thirty representatives of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches in Europe, from countries stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic, have gathered together for the First European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. We express our gratitude to all who have worked for the success of this meeting, especially to the Archbishop of Trent who warmly received us and offered hospitality. The meeting has been organised by the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE), in close collaboration with various Orthodox Churches and some of the dicasteries of the Holy See.
We have expressed our deep sorrow at the sudden death of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, who had warmly extended his blessing upon the project of this Forum.
In an instruction released December 12th, 2008, Dignitatis Personae, the Holy See clarified a number of issues in biomedical research and their application to family life that have been hotbeds of contention for decades.
"Dignitatis Personae acknowledges that previous standards by some ethics committees have not been "sufficient" and the Holy See has taken steps to assist both parents who vaccinate their children and researchers who use aborted fetal or embryonic material," stated Children of God for Life's Executive Director, Debi Vinnedge.
The First Catholic-Orthodox Forum, organized by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE), took place in Trent from Thursday to Sunday. Seventeen representatives of European bishops' conferences, Vatican dicasteries, and Orthodox Churches met to discuss the theme "The Family: A Good for Humanity." The Forum is not a theological dialogue; rather, it seeks to "help define common positions on social and moral questions. By engaging in this exchange, we help each other realize just how close our moral and social doctrines are."
Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's representative branch in European international organizations, took modern Western society to task for backsliding on traditional family values.
"The dramatic and unprecedented in scale social sweeping change caused by the "sexual revolution" has affected almost all Western countries. Within less than fifty years, the traditional assumptions about family and sex have been overthrown: they are replaced with the "progressive" norms based on a liberal ideology," Bishop Hilarion said reporting to the First Orthodox-Catholic Forum in Trento, Italy.
Orthodox Churches in Russia and abroad have been holding memorial services for Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, on Saturday, the ninth day after his death, in keeping with the Orthodox tradition.
In Athens, in the shadow of protests, today ends a three-day scientific seminar - Dialogue between Christianity and Islam, within an interreligious educational initiative for cooperation, with the theme titled '' The Ability of building interreligious dialogue''. The Patriarchate of Constantinople and the World Islamic Call Society both organized this seminar which lasted from December 11 to 13, 2008 in the capital of Greece.