True freedom rejects mere consumption and satisfaction and embraces a duty to rescue the migrant, to save women from violence, and to help young people struggling to work and care for their families. In short, freedom includes responsibility towards God and neighbor, Europe’s Christian leaders have said. “Our Christian freedom is God-given, rooted in Christ, and calls us into a life of service of one another. Christ challenges us to use our freedom to bring about the Kingdom of God in the here and now,” said the joint message from the Council of the European Bishops Conferences and the Conference of European Churches. “There is no freedom unless this freedom is with and for others,” it added. The May 8 message came at the conclusion of a Rome meeting of the Joint Committee of the Conference of European Churches and the Council of the European Bishops Conferences. The meeting focused on the theme “For a Europe of Freedom and Liberties: a Christian Approach.” The Conference of European Churches includes 125 members that are generally the most prominent Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches and communities. The Council of the European Bishops Conferences represents 33 Catholic bishops’ conferences of the European Community plus the archbishops of Luxembourg and of Monaco, as well as the Bishop of Chisinau, Moldova. During the May 6-8 meeting sessions, members of the two bodies reflected on the role of freedom. The resulting joint message marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The anniversary is a reminder of the “sacrifices made in a violent battle against deadly ideologies,” the joint message said. The Christian leaders stressed their conviction that “a Christian vision of human freedom” is needed in a pluralist Europe, since “this freedom is part of us, as God created us free.” A freedom “rooted in truth” often conflicts with other freedoms, the statement said. “Notions of freedom that support individualistic satisfaction and meaningless consumption at the expense of others are all too common.” the message said. It emphasized aspects of freedom “oriented to responsibility to God and to neighbor.” “We call for a freedom that denounces oppression and violence against women in the name of any religion,” the Christian leaders said. “We call for a freedom that rescues migrants in the Mediterranean, and works for an end to the causes of desperate migration and allows for all to live peacefully in their homelands.” The Christian leaders called for “a freedom that speaks words of solidarity in the face of anti-Roma prejudice.” The statement sought an end to human trafficking and called for “the end of worldwide modern day slavery.” Regarding the environment, the joint statement called for a freedom “that names creation as a sacred gift.” It cited the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in December. Finally, the statement called for “a freedom that chooses hope over despair, and lives in solidarity with young people in their struggles to build careers and raise families.” The joint committee meetings included prayers and a May 7 audience with Pope Francis, who stressed the need for churches to “find common answers to the questions which contemporary society puts to us Christians.” The Council of the European Bishops Conferences and the Conference of European Churches established their joint committee in 1971 in order to foster collaboration between the Catholic Church and other Christian confessions in Europe. The groups’ membership reaches beyond Europe. Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest and president of the Council of the European Bishops Conferences, stressed that they represent “Christian churches from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.”
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