The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace’ annual meeting opened in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday 21 June 2011. The meeting lasts until Thursday 23 and the main theme is “Human Rights and Traditional Values in Europe”. During the opening ceremony which took place in Christ the Savior Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, reminded the council members of the importance of authentic interreligious dialogue. The Patriarch, who is an ECRL founding member and former co-moderator, said that every side in the dialogue should be able to represent themselves without compromise to their own religious identity. The Patriarch underscored that in order to bring about peace, religious leaders should engage in a just and fair dialogue with each other and the society as a whole. The dialogue should produce strong intellectual results, communicate with the communities and connect with people to generate peace and justice, and promote human rights, dignity and responsibility.
The ECRL Moderator, Bishop Gunnar Stålsett stated that religion has a role to play in Europe and beyond. In regards to the main theme – human rights and traditional values in Europe – he saw a possibility to establish a common ground in respect to the concept of human dignity against which both human rights and traditional values could be tested.
High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, H.E. Jorge Sampaio invited the religious leaders to join hands with him in the work to advance the work on human dignity.
Due to the enlargement of the council a significant number of vacant seats were to be filled. 14 new members were welcomed into the Council. Among those are Angelo Cardinal Scola, Roman Catholic (Italy), Archbishop Jeremy, Orthodox(Poland); Bishop Bernt Eidsvig Roman Catholic (Norway); Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala, Protestant (Finland); Rabbi Abraham Dunner, Jewish (Great Britain); Imam Yahya Pallavicini, Muslim (Italy) and Bharti Tailor, Hindu (Great Britain).
The council meeting in Moscow is hosted by the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate. Among the participants in the council meeting are the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Kirill (Russia); ECRL Moderator, Bishop Gunnar Stålsett (Norway); Grand Mufti Dr Mustafa Ceric (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Metropolitan Hilarion (Russia); Chief Rabbi Adolf Shaevich (Russia); Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh (Great Britain); Jehangir Sarosh (Great Britain), and Honorary President Mme Jacquline Rougé.