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Religious Liberty Advisory in Rome

Religious Liberty Advisory in Rome

The Advisory members

Rome, Italy [Liviu Olteanu; CD EUDNews]. On June 3-6, 2013 the Public Affairs & the Religious Liberty Department (PARL) of the Inter-European Division (EUD) in partnership with the General Conference of SDA (GC) met with 22 PARL directors and other offici

June 18, 2013 | CD EUDNews; Liviu Olteanu;

Rome, Italy [Liviu Olteanu; CD EUDNews]. On June 3-6, The Public Affairs & the Religious Liberty Department (PARL) of the Inter-European Division (EUD) in partnership with the General Conference of SDA (GC) met with 22 PARL directors and other officials of the EUD Unions in Rome, Pomezia, Italy, for the EUD Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Advisory.

EUD PARL Director and Secretary General of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (IADRL), Pastor & Attorney Liviu Olteanu, the Permanent IADRL Representative to the United Nations, and main representative to the European Parliament, to the Council of Europe and to the OSCE, was looking forward to the first Advisory to equip his EUD Union colleagues with more updated information and materials on public affairs & religious liberty. He joined with GC colleagues to provide training on sensitive public affairs and religious liberty issues.

He presented topics such as “The Synergy of PARL with other SDA departments’, ‘the European Union and Religious liberty’ and the contribution of EUD to the EU FORB Freedom of Religious and Belief Guidelines.

On the first day of the Advisory, the meetings began with worship led by the Portuguese Union president pastor Antonio Rodriguez.

The EUD PARL Director Liviu Olteanu made several presentations. He first started with clarifying and establishing all the framework of the global dimension of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty on the theme ‘Vision and the Structure of PARL Department at all levels of the Church' (GC, EUD, Union, Conference, Church).

Dr. Ganoune Diop made several presentations; he is the Director of United Nations Relations and Associate Director of GC PARL department, expert in biblical, theological studies, interreligious, inter- governmental relations and diplomacy. He introduced the participants with deep insights and clarity to the ‘Foundations for Religious Liberty’ from biblical, theological and philosophical perspectives. He elaborated on Adventist contributions to this issue. He presented the SDA relations to the UN by clearly identifying common values and unique Adventist perspectives. He also shared a vision and practical tools for interfaith relations.

Dwayne Leslie, GC PARL Associate Director, and the PARL Unions directors gave practical presentations on how he and Liberty Magazine along with NARLA organized liberty dinner in Washington. He also gave a report on his work at the Capitol Hill in Washington.

Both Diop and Leslie presented the practical work of PARL and mentioned the contributions of Dr. John Graz, PARL Director at a GC level. They represented the church, Leslie at a national level in the US and Diop at an international level, at the UN and at other interfaith fora (interreligious encounters). They spoke about their responsibilities in the publication of the journal, “Fides et Libertas”, the world report, the experts meeting program (Diop) and liberty dinner, the TV programs, “Faith and Freedom,” and a twitter account (Leslie). The whole GC department team with its director, Dr. John Graz, focuses on Congresses, symposiums and festivals to promote religious freedom and put the Adventist church on the map of contributors to religious liberty.

Dr. Tiziano Rimoldi of Italy presented an interesting case of religious freedom in the European context.

There were several EUD Union reports: Tzanko Mitev: Bulgaria, Thomas Kabrt: Czech Republic, Dora Bognandi: Italy, Harald Mueller and Friedberg Hartmann: Germany, Paulo Sergio Macedo: Portugal, Nelu Burcea: Romania and Herbert Bodenmann: Switzerland.

The evaluations at the end of the meeting reveal that the organization of the Advisory, the content of the presentations and the materials offered were deeply appreciated by the participants. They highlighted some points: “Ganoune Diop’s presentations, the motivation and basics by Ganoune, the subject of human dignity, the doctrinal foundations of Religious Liberty, the basis for religious liberty, the reasons for religious liberty, knowing the Biblical approach and personal relationship with local authorities, the Biblical foundation of human rights, personal contacts, the topics themselves were very important, the spiritual themes and information, the reports, Dwayne's presentation, how to organize a dinner, the advice in favour of creating and maintaining the philosophy of the pact of the liberty for all people…”

Some quotes:

“I appreciated this Advisory very much and I believe that I have learned a lot. It gave me a vision regarding the work I have to do and gave me a lot of determination in my commission”. “I believe it is necessary to have more contacts with the leaders of the society.” “I appreciated the nice atmosphere and the understanding”, thank you for your ministry. I now understand that the department is a necessary part of the mission of the church.” “Thank you very much for the opportunity I had. Thank you for the effort and for giving us the chance to come together. May God bless you.” “God bless your ministry I will pray for you!” “Thank you, it was really nice for me to meet you and my colleagues from different unions. I feel more motivated after this Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Advisory we had in Rome.”

"In the future, there will be room for improvement at the PARL Advisory. More time will be devoted to workshops, practical discussions on the national religious liberty issues and more time for interactions among participants. Especially after the reports there will be more input from this international gathering of experienced group", so Liviu Olteanu.

"I give my thanks to each one of my colleagues for all their contributions. I praise the Lord for this very useful meeting we had in Rome on religious liberty, and for the support received by the EUD officials to organize this event. As appeared in the evaluations, we received a great, special and practical support by professor and doctor Ganoune Diop. May God bless the SDA Church at all levels and all worldwide defenders and champions of religious liberty", commented Liviu Olteanu.

To learn more about Religious Liberty activities in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, please visit the following web sites:

www.aidlr.org

www.adventistliberty.org/

pictures: 1. The advisory; 2. Mary Robinson, President of the International Association for the defense of Religious Liberty, Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Ireland; 3. Liviu Olteanu, Secretary General of the International Association for the defense of Religious Liberty and PARL Director at a EUD-Division level;

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