Towards a Vision of Europe - Dialogue and participation

59. Our hope for healing is strongly reinforced by the current developments in a number of countries in Europe towards more scope for dialogue in foreign affairs and domestically through a process of reform and democratisation of society. In some countries what is called a "civil society" is emerging: groups, non-governmental organisations and initiatives which are independent from the state. People are becoming increasingly aware of their rights, their role and their strength within their society. They want to participate actively in shaping their future. This gives a new dimension to detente. The CSCE Vienna Concluding Document (1989) could also be of importance for this process, because of its clear statements on religious freedom, human rights, national minorities and human contacts.

60. These steps toward dialogue and communication, both within and between countries, are also an important challenge for the churches to take part in this process. The churches should be places of openness and dialogue between those who disagree but seek the truth. In times of polarization and tension, the churches have a responsibility to facilitate dialogue between those who would otherwise find it difficult to talk with each other. This includes people of other world views and belief. This dialogue should also occur across the divide in Europe. In this way, we can assist in the process in which borders can gradually lose their separating character.

61. We strongly affirm the importance of non-violent, political means as the appropriate way of seeking to bring about change in Europe. There are no situations in our countries or on our continent in which violence is required or justified.

© 2001 by Ulrich Schmitthenner • Bildschirm-Version