ECRL: Budapest Statement on The Role of Multi-religious Cooperation in Social Cohesion and Human Security

On 7-8th May, 2018 the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) came together in the beautiful and historic city of Budapest to explore the important theme of ‘Multi-religious Collaboration on Community Cohesion and Human Security’.


It is evident that the changing political, social and demographic dynamics in contemporary Europe present some of the biggest challenges for a generation to European citizens, communities and governments. Arguably the most pressing problems are: increased migration across continents; the rise of popular nationalism and associated; xenophobia, economic inequities and social exclusion; and the rise of religious extremism. More religion specific issues which are also of great importance include the freedom of religious practice and belief, and role of religion in the public space and discourse. Many of these challenges present a substantial threat to social and community cohesion; have significant implications for human security; as well as an apparent ethical/religious/spiritual dimension.

Religions role in many of these challenges is often ambiguous: for example it is often implicated in extremism and violence, but is also a vital positive resource in welcoming the increasing numbers of migrants into European community. However, as a result of the increased relevance of religion to many of the contemporary problems (both in a positive and negative sense), pan-European institutions and organisations, and national governments, increasing expect, and sometimes demand, a response from religious leaders and communities.

In recognition of the important role religion can and should play in tackling many of these contemporary challenges, this special symposium hosted by the European Council of Religious Leaders will examine and report on the role of multi-religious cooperation in enhancing community cohesion and human security. Drawing on the wisdom of some of Europe’s senior religious leaders, experts and academics in the field, as well as real-life examples from several European countries, this symposium will explore how religion might support and enhance efforts to break down negative stereotypes, create unanimity where deep division currently exists, and contributing to safe, peaceful and cohesive societies and communities in Europe today.


On 7-8th May, 2018 the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) came together in the beautiful and historic city of Budapest to explore the important theme of ‘Multi-religious Collaboration on Community Cohesion and Human Security’.

The choice of Hungary for ECRL’s annual meeting was particularly meaningful. It is a country which faces many of the challenges experienced in countries across Europe today: mass migration between continents driven by conflict and social and economic inequalities; balancing freedoms, rights and human security; the rise of consumerism which can contribute to the destruction of our natural environment; and the growth of political popularism driven by the fear of religious and cultural change.

We recognise that Hungary is a country which has been portrayed in a negative light for the ways in which it has understood and dealt with some of these challenges. As a Council we came to listen, learn and respect the views and concerns of the host country and communities, whilst at the same time sensitively sharing our own vision of the positive role religion can play in addressing the significant challenges evident in Europe today.

Following our profound considerations, as the most representative body of senior religious leaders in Europe today we call on community, religious and political leaders across Europe to:

Realise and recognise the humanity and dignity of every single individual regardless of their origin or background, and to work tirelessly together to overcome all forms of prejudice and discrimination. We know that fear, hatred and division are typically based on false negative stereotypes, and much greater support is needed for projects and initiatives which bring people from all backgrounds together, and help build positive relations and communal harmony;

Challenge negative popular and political discourse which confuses religious identity and human security. On the anniversary of VE day as a Council we remember that in Europe violent and oppressive ideologies have taken many guises. The overwhelming majority of religious people across Europe and the world strongly reject and condemn all forms of violence, persecution and hate speech;

Remember that history clearly shows that a society or politics based on fear can only lead to greater anxiety, communal tensions, and anguish. A society or religion that is afraid of change is one that cannot be secure and confident in its own identity;

Publicly acknowledge and support the shared positive moral, ethical and spiritual values inherent in all the world’s great religions: we pray and work for the peaceful and harmonious existence of people of all religions and those of none.

The ECRL express our deepest gratitude to the people and faith communities of Hungary for our warm and sincere welcome and open and constructive dialogue; and to our gracious hosts the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

As a Council drawn from diverse religious traditions and beliefs, our work as a multi-religious Council is based on the firm belief that the values, beliefs and hopes that bring us together are far greater and more powerful than the differences that distinguish us. As our deliberations have reminded us once again, people of all religions and none need not agree on everything in order to agree on the most important calling of our time: the need to work tirelessly for greater peace, respect and love across Europe and the wider world.

The European Council of Religious Leaders
8th May, 2018. Budapest



You may download the Budapest Statement on this page.