Press release - 6 February 2009
Coordinating Group for Religion in Education in Europe CoGREE
CoGREE contribution to the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue process of the Council of Europe
CoGREE welcomes the Council of Europe White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue that was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in May 2008. The openness of the document encourages our contribution to an ongoing discussion to establish intercultural dialogue as a continuing process at all levels.
CoGREE is pleased to note that religion is regarded as a significant factor, although it is more than a dimension of intercultural dialogue. Committed to the principle of freedom of conscience and religion and the need for democratic governance, we confirm that inter-religious dialogue is a related issue. It enables the religious organisations "to fulfil their role", although it also goes beyond the immediate competencies of the Council of Europe.
CoGREE underlines that teachers of religious education can contribute to interreligious as well as intercultural understanding and to the implementation of the thinking behind the white paper. In this respect it is important to recognise that religious facts, though relatively easy to teach in the school curriculum, are necessarily defined by their reception within religious traditions. Religious educators in Europe have considerable experience of exploring knowledge and of encouraging young people to understand a range of beliefs in a manner that is free from sectarian indoctrination. Young people need to become "religiate", if their engagement in intercultural dialogue is to be complete. We also believe that education about, from and through religion is necessary to enable young people to make informed conceptual and spiritual judgements. Good education also aims to take account of how religious extremism may relate to unjustifiable assumptions.
The whole text of the CoGREE contribution to the "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue":
CoGREE Contribution (pdf)