Pictures: Report:


Paris, 1 November, 2008

Dear Friends,

The launching of the European women’s Group is a major step forward in the history of Religions for Peace. As one engaged for thirty years, I can appreciate its importance.

When, in 1984, I became one of ten presidents of WCRP, I was one of only two women in the group. When, in 2001 in Paris, a few of us laid the foundations for the European Council of Religious Leaders which was officially established in Oslo the following year, Europe had national chapters but not enough strength at the regional level where political decisions increasingly take place.

What you are doing to-day is to help bring about on our continent the needed empowerment of women in everything that concerns peace, not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world thanks to the useful links you are weaving with the European international institutions.

You will, I am sure, successfully promote women’s rights everywhere.

You will also bring to bear the irreplaceable role of religious women in the work going on in various fora for the transformation of conflicts, disarmament, sustainable development and human rights in general, in addition to gender-specific issues.

For all this, I congratulate you warmly. I pray for you and wish you every success.

Jacqueline Rougé

Honorary President, Religions for Peace

Representative of Religions for Peace at UNESCO.

Greeting to European Women of Faith Network
EWFN launch 13 November 2008, European Parliament, Brussels,
from the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

While 20 years ago many thought that God was dead and religion was dying, now he – or she – is back. God, or religion, is disturbing the ordered machinery of society, laying claims on the attention of politicians and bureaucrats alike.
But those religious traditionalists who rejoice and feel vindicated, those who believe that because God is back, old religious realities are back, are gravely mistaken. God is back, religion is back, but within entirely new realities. The end of a modern secularist hegemony has not given way to pre-modern religion, but to religion adjusting to a post-modern reality.

One of the major changes to religion is the move from majority hegemony to plurality: In many – not all – European countries, one religious community has been hegemonic for centuries. One of the biggest changes that are happening right now is that the majority religions are adjusting to a situation where they become conscious that they live side by side with a range of other religions.

It is almost self evident that this situation calls for – cries out for – dialogue; methods of engaging each other in respectful ways. And it calls for action across different religions. Different faith – common action.
I am here at this joyful occasion as representative for Religions for Peace – European Council of Religious Leaders. And it is a joyful event. The launch of European Women of Faith Network – Women against Poverty states two very important elements. It states that Women of different faith congregate and that they wish to join forces in a joint action, against poverty – different faith – common action.
The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians as active participants. One of the co-moderators is Godfried Cardianal Danneels from Belgium. ECRL is one of four regional Inter- Religious Councils within the Religions for Peace network which is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.
ECRL is proud to count European Women of Faith Network as its affiliate. We are proud to be partners with this strong and vital network.
If one looks at women’s situation in Europe today one can say that the change and development for women have been tremendous. I believe that the changes we have seen never could have taken place without the common commitment of various women movement and women network. By this I don’t say that European Women of Faith Network’s agenda is similar with that of more secular movement but I believe it is a lesson to be learned. Women have other agendas them men. Women have other tools than men. Women have other vision than men. Women need to unite in order to achieve. Perhaps one can add that this is even more important in religious structures.
Anyway – a warm thank you and a warm congratulation to you all and good luck. ECRL is looking forward to be working with you and we at the ECRL secretariat are ready to help out in any possible way we can.

Thank you all for the attention.

by Ingrid Rosendorf Joys, Senior Information Officer