Meeting with EU Officials
On Tuesday, the 9th of June, Fr. Stavros Kofinas, Coordinator of the ENHCC, went to Brussels to meet with officials of the EU and with the Director of the Church and Society Commission of CEC.
The Tuesday morning meeting with Rev Rüdiger Noll, Director of the Commission and Associate General Secretary of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches, together with Rev. Dr. Dieter Heidtmann, Executive Secretary of the Commission, was held in a spirit of true friendship and common concern regarding developments within Europe. The executives of the Commission informed the Coordinator that the process for organizations becoming affiliated with CEC and CSC is being re-evaluated and that this will be discussed in the upcoming 13th Assembly that will take place in Lyon between the 15-21 July 2009. The Director and the Executive Secretary both confirmed their desire to continue the open dialogue and working relation that has been established between the ENHCC and the CSC. One of the major issues that the CSC is drawing its attention to is that of migrants in Europe. The concerns regarding bioethics continue to be of high priority, together with issues regarding the elderly and the end of life issues. They expressed the desire to send a representative to the upcoming London Consultation so as to honour the ENHCC upon its 10 year anniversary celebration.
At the Church & Society Commission
In the afternoon, the Coordinator of the ENHCC was joined by Network Committee member Axel Liégeois of Belgium. They first met with Jorge César das Neves , Adviser European Commission – BEPA Dialogue with Religions, Churches and Communities of conviction. During this one hour meeting, Jorge César das Neves explained the change of efforts that his office is making in comparison to the past administration. He sees his role as someone that can bring faith communities together in Europe to discuss specific areas of concern, such as health care, and invited the ENHCC to feel free to propose opportunities for dialogue. He was most impressed with the vast participation in the ENHCC from EU countries and expressed a great interest in health care chaplaincy in Europe.
Fr Stavros, Jorge César das Neves and Axel Liégeois
The final meeting on Tuesday was with Ms. Despina Spanou, Deputy Head of Cabinet of the EU Commissioner for Public Health. Ms. Spanou was well informed of the ENHCC, stating that the Network is well known in the office of the Commissioner for its past contributions in the area of palliative care. She said that she is very aware of chaplaincy and spoke fondly of her personal experience of chaplaincy in her formative years, when her family use to regularly attend church services in the hospital near by her home. With warm recollection, she stated that “We considered the hospital chapel as a part of our lives and we all supported the chaplain in his work.” She attentively listened to the various difficulties that chaplains encounter in their ministry. Both the Coordinator and Committee Member Liégeois asked how the ENHCC could assist the Commissioner’s office. In response, Ms. Spanou said that three areas of health care that the Commissioner’s Office presently is looking at are cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and mental health. She invited the ENHCC to make any contribution to these areas of concern on an EU level. In closing, Ms. Spanou promised that her office will start sending all EU directives to the Network regarding public health, in order to, open up a more direct line of communication between the Commissioner’s and the Network.
Meeting with Ms Despina Spanou