Central European Ecumenical Discussion in Budapest

On the invitation of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary, the leaders of Austrian, Czech, Slovak and Polish ecumenical organisations visited Budapest to hold a discussion on 14-15 February. The discussion revolved around the programme of the Hungarian churches concerning the EU presidency, as well as the opportunities of co-operation.

The opening sermon was delivered by Imre Szebik, Lutheran Bishop Emeritus and President of ECCH, and the liturgical services were carried out by the leaders of the ECCH member churches. In his speech opening the discussion, Secretary General Zoltán Bóna emphasised the significance of regional co-operation in Central Europe, which could be greatly influential in the common service of churches even beyond the six months of the Hungarian EU presidency.  

During the consultation, the following areas of co-operation were identified:  the churches’ role in the advancement of social reconciliation, the presentation of the cultural and religious diversity unique to Central Europe and the facilitation of understanding between Western and Eastern Europe.

Peter Pavlovic, Study secretary of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches, while discussing the challenges of European integration and the restructuring of CEC, also called for the strengthening of regional co-operation and the realisation of the potentials in the unique features of the area. 

Ireneusz Lukas, Director of the Polish Ecumenical Council has been engaged in discussions with his Hungarian colleague on the Hungarian-Polish EU presidency handover.  

During the two-day meeting, Balázs Ódor, Head of the Foreign Office of the Reformed Church of Hungary presented a publication of the ECCH, now also available in English, which outlines the Hungarian churches’ expectations about and contribution to the EU presidency, also listing the related joint programmes.

The current details of the Danube Strategy, which is significant in the life of the region, were revealed by György Nádasi, Deputy Head of Department of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; while the related church initiatives were presented by Adél Dávid, Lutheran pastor, representative of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.  

The participants of the meeting held a discussion with Synod Clerk Zoltán Tarr about strengthening relations within ecumenical organisations, and then took part in the reception hosted by Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei, where they had the opportunity to meet the participants of the Roma consultation that was being held at the same time.  

Further representatives of ECCH member churches were also present in the meeting, namely Archiepiscopal Vicar József Kalota, representing the Orthodox Exarchate in Hungary, Dr. Kálmán Mészáros, Head of the Baptist Union of Hungary, and Imre Csernák, Methodist Superintendent.