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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics



This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Introduction (Elisabeth A. Diamantopoulou / Louis-Léon Christians)


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Since 1989, European studies about religions and democracy have progressively been focused on issues about Islam integration v. Islamic radicalism. It is especially true within the western secularized part of Europe. Such a (legitimate) interest, however, should not obscure other important questions about the relationship between religions, pluralism and Human rights in Europe, and need to be balanced today by new data and influences due to the European enlargement. Orthodox Christianity has become a significant religious actor along with other Christian confessions in Europe. Following the adherence of Greece – the first Eastern Orthodox country that joined the EU in 1981 –, other countries with an Orthodox majority, such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, also joined the EU. There is also a significant Orthodox minority in several other EU countries, such as Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, and Hungary, as well as in the diaspora communities of several Western European countries.

If the process of “Europeanization” does not imply uniformity, in terms of cultural, religious and linguistic traditions, it does, on the contrary, imply common underlying principles and shared norms that are based on the articulation of shared precepts and values of being “European”, among which, in particular, the shared conception of, and adherence to individual Human Rights plays a crucial role.

In fact, the Western secular conception of Human Rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the...

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