Transcending polarisation by bringing together the various religions and philosophical convictions
Last Friday, the Council of Ministers approved a memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting dialogue between the civil authorities, the representative bodies of recognised religions and the recognised non-denominational philosophical organisations, following a proposal by Prime Minister Michel and Minister of Justice Geens. At the first meeting held today, all parties involved signed a declaration on the need for an ongoing dialogue aimed at working together to build a society that will ensure the sustainability of our fundamental values.
The Brussels and Paris attacks and the sometimes polarised climate that resulted from them have demonstrated the importance of an ongoing dialogue between the various religions and philosophical convictions and the civil authorities. "It is only through dialogue that we will create a society in which everyone feels involved." stated Minister of Justice Koen Geens.
On 20 April last year, the Federal Government and the official religions and secular organisations issued a joint statement detailing their desire for dialogue and consultation. In the joint statement, they emphasized the observance of the independence of religions, of non-denominational philosophies and the State, and their desire to combat all forms of violence.
The Council of Ministers had tasked the Minister of Justice with creating a permanent consultative body involving the civil authorities, the representative bodies of official religions and the non-denominational philosophical organisations and to submit a proposal in this regard. A draft Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up in consultation with the Prime Minister's Office. The various representatives will meet twice a year, in a Council, with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, with the aim of stimulating dialogue between the authorities and the interfaith world. Of course, the Council may also be convened if crisis situations arise.
Prime Minister Charles Michel stated: "It is important to encourage an ongoing dialogue between the representatives of recognised religions, the secular world and the Federal State in order to promote and guarantee the sustainability of our fundamental values, and in particular human rights.
We had already brought the religions and the secular world around the table in 2015 and 2016. The Memorandum of Understanding for ongoing dialogue is a continuum, a strong signal aimed at fostering the emergence of a society of trust and a free society based on such values."
Minister of Justice Koen Geens stated: "It is important to bring the different religions and philosophical convictions around the table. Only in this way can we understand each other. We must transcend polarisation and bring people together rather than dividing them and pitting them against each other. The creation of this body for dialogue provides us with the necessary structure that we need to make full use of."