D E C L A R A T I O N
Annual General Meeting, Utrecht, June 10, 2016
Eurodiaconia members gathered in Plenary;
Have adopted the following declaration:
AGM Declaration: Building a hospitable Europe
Hospitality is a core element of diaconia. It is about how we relate to each other in our local communities. It is about respecting each other’s differences whilst acknowledging the imperfection of ourselves and the other.
Hospitality is about opening hearts and doors to those in need, fully aware that we ourselves are in need of solidarity and hope – it is about giving and receiving.
Hospitality transcends the boundaries of the European Union. It is about welcoming persons from other backgrounds, but it is also about supporting vulnerable individuals in their communities of origin and about helping them to rebuild their lives and homes.
Are we hospitable to those with mental health challenges, to those who face loneliness or experience poverty? The sad and simple answer is no. The number of persons facing precarious employment and poverty has increased in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Pension reforms are pushing elderly persons into material deprivation whilst young persons struggle to find a decent job. Dreams of a better future are shattered in overcrowded refugee camps, whilst ethnic minorities such as Roma face discrimination on a daily basis.
Eurodiaconia, together with its members gathered at the Annual General Meeting in Utrecht this year, calls on decision-makers across Europe to demonstrate genuine hospitality by implementing ambitious and integrated strategies in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, by restoring the balance between economic growth and social investment, by formulating inclusion and integration policies which build bridges rather than fences, and by clearly and completely denouncing xenophobia and hate speech.
We call on the European people to open their hearts and minds to persons who face poverty and exclusion, to overcome hate and fear through expressions of love and hope, and to recognise neighbors in strangers. For our part, we promise to continue our diaconal work, based on the Christian faith and inspired by the example of Christ, which is based on three pillars: Advocacy, Social Praxis and Diaconal Identity.
Through Advocacy, we will continue to ensure that the harmful social consequences of certain economic measures and the cost of indifference do not remain unknown or unchallenged. We wish to convince political decision-makers of the value of hospitality, and to create and sustain societal change from the grassroots.
Through Praxis, we will continue reaching out to hundreds of thousands of individuals in need, often in partnership with the state. But in a time of dwindling public budgets, we wish to emphasise the continued importance of service accessibility and quality. While professionals remain a cornerstone of service provisions, we want to empower volunteers and users and involve them directly in the design and evaluation of our actions.
Through reflection on diaconal Identity, we will continue exploring improved ways of translating the Christian values of hospitality, solidarity and charity into practice. We wish to show that Christian faith is not purely a private matter – it carries public responsibility. Diaconia is an ancient concept with modern significance.
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