Mr. Liviu Savescu, City Hall’s representative, opened the discussions with a short presentation of the city of Lugoj and the good relationships between the people living here, followed by Nelu Burcea, president of the Conscience and Liberty Association, who quickly introduced all those present.
Greg Hamilton presented the main discourse of the meeting, offering both the North American concept of religious freedom as well as current international trends on the topic. Concluding, the American expert emphasized the importance of the existence of clear and firm legislation to insure a climate of freedom.
In the discussion that followed, local SDA Pastor from Lugoj, Mr. Dănuț Obăgeanu, stated that in this part of the country, even though there is no law that would impose it, churches manage to maintain amicable relationships, but these relationships are characterized by a “cold peace.”
The most important factor in the success of developing respectful interreligious relationships is education,” said Mr Dragos Musat, Director of the Conscience and Liberty Association from Banat. Mr. Ioan Cerbu, Archpriest [Protopop] Iconom Stavrofor of the Orthodox Church in Lugoj cited the role the Banat Metropolitan [Mitropoly] Church continues to have in promoting respect and freedom for the various churches.
Mr Mihail Dumitrescu, the parochial priest of the Greco-Catholic Cathedral, Mr Ivan Bloch, president of the Jewish Community, Mr Ioan Balan, Guardian [epitrop] of the Evangelical Church and Mr Ilie Albiciuc, Archpriest [protopop]of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church each stated that good relationships currently exist between churches; they maintained that the city of Lugoj had not seen any violations of religious freedom. However, it would be necessary and beneficial to have a law that would insure the framework of freedoms and rights for all religions, stressed Mr Ionel Soponariu, Treasurer of the SDA in Banat.
Present at this meeting, Romanian Senator (Lugoj), Mr Ioan Iovescu, made the appeal to continue the good relationships between churches and also between religious leaders and politicians, suggesting that the current model of relating will not be modified in the near future, because a law similar to the United States constitutional provisions for religious liberty will not be soon introduced in the Romanian Parliament.
Translated by Eddie Ciobanu, Lugoj, March 12, 2013