Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church takes part in inter-religious conference at the Italian Council of Ministers

On 19 March 2012, the conference on Religions, Culture and Integrationbegan at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome (residence of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic). Representatives of the majority of religious communities in Italy participated in the conference.

Hieromonk Antoniy (Sevryuk), secretary of the administration of the Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Italy, took part in the conference on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church. Bishop Silouan of Italy represented the Romanian Orthodox Church; Archimandrite Simeon (Katsinas) the Patriarchate of Constantinople; and Archpriest Rashko Radovich the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh communities in Italy, as well as the major Christian denominations of this country, also sent their representatives to the conference.

Professor Andrea Riccardi, Italian Minister for International Cooperation, delivered an opening speech in which he underscored the necessity for religious communities of the country to take an active part in solving the problem of migration. The Minister stated that this issue is of considerable importance for Italy these days, in particular from the perspective of contacts with religions and cultures of those who come to the Apennines from many different countries. Prof. Riccardi cited statistics about the presence of various religious communities in Italy. The Minister noted that the Orthodox community is the second largest community in the country after the Catholic one. According to Prof. Riccardi, the Ministry for International Cooperation on behalf of the Italian Government is willing to invite the leaders of religious communities of the country to take part in a discussion on the process of full-scale integration of migrants into the life of the country.

Anna Maria Cancellieri, Italian Minister of the Interior, also addressed the participants in the conference.

During the second part of the conference, representatives of religious communities had an opportunity to explain how they see the progress of integration in respect of their own communities.

At the end of the meeting, Minister Andrea Riccardi thanked all the participants and said that the conference, to be held regularly, will continue its work in the near future. The meetings of religious leaders of the country will be taking place on a regular basis at the Italian Council of Ministers, reports the web-site of the Church of St Catherine in Rome.

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