International Congress: Rethinking Europe with(out) Religion

Experts from science and politics discuss the contribution of religion(s) to the European project

The research platform "Religion and Transformation in Contemporary European Society" (RaT), based at University of Vienna, is announcing its international congress "Rethinking Europe with(out) Religion" in 2013, February 20 to 23, in Vienna. RaT has invited leading European philosophers, sociologists, political scientists and theologians to reflect on the political role of religions for the European unification process in times of crisis. The congress is opened by Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission.

In the face of the Euro-crisis intellectuals such as Jürgen Habermas have criticized a relapse in nationalist paradigms. They plea to change track for Europe and "to broaden the public discussion which has been restricted to economic questions so far."

The meaning of Europe to theology and history of philosophy
Kurt Appel, Systematic Theologian at University of Vienna and Speaker of the research platform, agrees: "The European unification process is a historical project which has not existed so far. Trying to bring together the different historical experiences of religions and states to develop a common humanistic vision for Europe as a paradigm of a plural global community is unique." Appel states that, from the perspective of theology and history of philosophy, the unification process of the last decades has to be interpreted in terms of a Kairos (Ancient Greek for "now or never") of universal meaning, which churches and religious communities should not exclude themselves. However, so far they have rarely considered the theological, historical and philosophical meaning of Europe. In the face of the Nobel Prize for Peace for the European Union it is time to face this challenge and to reflect scientifically on the contribution of religion(s) to the European project.

Experts from politics and science
Leading politicians such as Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission, and Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, have accepted the invitation. Well-known scholars from all over Europe and from different disciplines (philosophy, sociology of religion, political sciences and theology) have announced their coming: Cristina Lafont (USA), specialist on Habermas, and Thomas Schmidt (Germany), expert on philosophy of religion, will open the scientific part of the congress with a philosophical contribution. Two sociologists of religion, Detlev Pollack (Germany) and Martin Riesebrodt (Germany/USA), will approach the issue from a sociological point of view. Erhard Busek and Sabrina Ramet (Norway), political scientist and expert for Eastern-Europe, will focus on the special Eastern European experience with religion. Marcello Neri (Italy), systematic theologian, reflects on the meaning of Christianity to Europe. The voice of Islam will be represented by the sociologist of religion Tahir Abbas(Turkey), the voice of Judaism by the Austrian journalist Isolde Charim. Besides, RaT expects Katharina von Schnurbein, Advisor of the EU-Commission for churches, religious associations and communities (BEPA).

According to Appel "Europe is a continent which essence lies in transcending itself". The contribution of the three monotheistic religions, which roots are originally non-European, consists in anchoring this fact in the collective memory of Europeans - against all attempts to exclude whole groups and regions. Furthermore, it is the task of religions to correct world views that reduce human being and life to mere objects or that find the meaning of life in consumption only.

Congress: "Rethinking Europe without Religion"
Wednesday, February 20th to Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
Place: Juridicum (Vienna University), Schottenbastei 10-16, 1010 Vienna


Congress Information
Mag. Dr. Angelika Walser
Research Platform Religion and Transformation in Contemporary European Society
University of Vienna
1010 Vienna, Schenkenstr. 8-10
M +43-664-602 77-238 02

General Information
Mag. Veronika Schallhart
Public Relations
University of Vienna
1010 Vienna, Universitätsring 1
T +43-1-4277-175 30
M +43-664-60277-175 30

Wissenschaftlicher Kontakt

Mag. Dr. Angelika Walser

Forschungsplattform Religion and Transformation in Contemporary European Society
Universität Wien
1010 - Wien, Schenkenstraße 8-10
+43-1-4277-300 24


Mag. Veronika Schallhart

Pressebüro der Universität Wien
Forschung und Lehre
1010 - Wien, Universitätsring 1
+43-1-4277-175 30
+43-664-602 77-175 30