2.12.2009. Brussels - A conference was held in the European Parliament about "The Role of Churches in the Social Inclusion of Roma" hosted by Lívia Járóka MEP. Participants agreed that historic churches might and must play an eminent role in the process of integration.
“Historic churches must play an eminent role in the social inclusion of Roma”
In her welcome speech Lívia Járóka (Hungarian Civic Union) appreciated the unequalled community building activities the churches pursue in addition to their support in terms of education, catering and housing. According to the MEP, measuring the needs of local communities and getting across smaller scale initiatives are the indispensable prerequisites of the Community Strategy on Roma Inclusion, which is gaining its shape these very months within the EU institutions. “Primarily the poorest people grappling with precarious living conditions and social exclusion are in need of the message of love, and of the guidance based on human dignity, but he poverty affecting the majority of Roma is a serious barrier of community building. “Numerous admirable examples show that historic churches can take up the dual challenge: they can simultaneously provide social support and spiritual nutriment, they can assist the mundane existence and in the meanwhile promulgate the message of universal love and by means of their moral calling diminish the prejudices of majority society” – said Járóka.
László Tőkés (MEP and bishop of the Transylvanian Reformed Church) called the social inclusion of Roma a European issue and simultaneously a Hungarian national mission. Tőkés also emphasized that supporting the social inclusion of Roma was the vital interest of the majority society. Pál Schmitt, Vice-President of the European Parliament reminded the audience, that the European People’s Party had substantially advocated the inclusion of Roma, since in a Europe that is so proud of its social achievements, it was unacceptable for a minority group of several million people to live in deep poverty. Further speeches were held by János Székely, suffragan bishop of the Esztergom-Budapest Archdiocese, Péter Gáncs, Bishop of the Southern Evangelical Diocese in Hungary, József Barna Nagy, Director of the Missionary Center for Roma in Nagyvárad, Gábor Gelsei, Deanery of the Orthodox Diocese of Hodász, and Géza Dúl, National Roma Referent of the Hungarian Catholic Church, as well as József Hofher and Ulrich Kiss Jesuit priests.
Participants unanimously welcomed that the Lisbon Treaty recognises the identity and specific contribution of Churches and engages on an open, transparent and regular dialogue with them.