On the Resurgence of Violence spreading throughout the World

The Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses profound concern about the resurgence of violence currently spreading throughout the world. From America to Africa and throughout Europe and Asia, continents are confronted with the phenomenon of intolerance that not only undermines world stability and peace, but also constitutes a denial of human dignity. Racial murders, genocide, ethnic cleansing, anti-semitism, destruction of places of worship and so forth, constitute barbaric acts that must be denounced publicly, particularly when they are masked with the veil of religion in an effort to justify them.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is particularly concerned about the situations in the Middle East, as well as in Nigeria and Sudan. Clashes between Christians and Muslims in these parts of the world must be overcome by promoting love for one’s neighbour as the peaceful expression of the bond uniting every human being. Furthermore, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is deeply concerned about the future of the people of Syria, as well as for the future of Christianity in that country. Therefore, we are calling on all parties involved in this conflict to lay down their weapons, especially given the urgency of the humanitarian situation.

The solution to such conflicts requires dialogue above all else. Dialogue constitutes more than merely a better understanding or toleration of our differences, indeed, dialogue is the essence of reconciliation and transformation. Therefore, religious leaders should be working together, through dialogue, to affirm God’s peace in the world. We, as religious leaders, have a moral obligation to resist war and promote peace as a vital and fundamental necessity for all humanity. Religion cannot and should never be a basis for war and conflict, nor should it be used as an instrument of fundamentalism and fanaticism for purely political motives and ends. With great resolve, we have repeatedly emphasized that any crime in the name of religion is a crime against religion. In this respect, dialogue is the only hope for attaining peace.

Finally, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Ecumenical Patriarchate express their solidarity with and compassion to all communities affected by violence, addressing a fervent appeal to all autocephalous Orthodox Churches, all Christian Churches and religious communities, as well as to international organizations and states, as well as every person of good will, to contribute to the triumph of peace over war and hatred.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, August 14, 2012

The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod

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  1. As His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew once pointed out, is that a war of religion, is a war against religion. It completely defeats the purpose of religion and spirituality when one uses it as a pretext to justify or legitimise hatred or intolerance of another. Its true purpose is to allow the person to seek out the divine and go beyond their own limited context or weakness. To seek out our divine origins in God.

    However there are those who use the excesses of “religion” as the basis to justify their own atheistic convictions, and in like fashion condemn religion with the same rancor and actions of hatred and intolerance. One of the famous catch-cries has been that religions have caused all the wars of human history, or a slightly modified claim is that religion has created the wars of the worst atrocities. The veracity of such infantile claims cannot and will never be affirmed, because it misses the fundamental problem of human character and imperfection. Irrespective of whether one is religious or not, if a person, nation etc are bent on the idea of persecuting or coercing another group of people, they will inevitably try to justify their actions in whatever manner they can.

    The 20th century is an interesting study of history, in that it was an era where religion was overtaken by secular and atheistic ideologies and theories (ie fascism, eugenics, nazism, communism, unrestrained capitalism, socialism) that sought to create utopia on earth irrespective of the cost to individuals or communities. The religious view of the value of the human person was removed, but nothing of real substance was put in place of this void. And so there was no restraint in place that could stop the excesses of these ideologies which brought about wars, sufferings and hardships unseen in human history before. The technological developments of the 20th century assisted in imposing many of these ideologies through wars, genocides, revolts etc at a magnitude and destruction unseen in human existence.

    It is a sobering thought to consider, but as His All Holiness and the Synod of Constantinople observe, it seems that now the world is departing the era of atheistic ideologies and now that same hatred and violence is being entrenched in religious discourse once again. And so we now see the re-emergence of religious fanaticism as an ideology for justifying the same sort of crimes that marked the 20th century via atheistic ideologies. Therefore having religion or no religion does not guarantee whether wars, hatred and intolerance will not exist, rather the beginning of the struggle to change this sad state of affairs begins with the struggle within ourselves. He who wishes to change the world for the better, must first learn to govern themselves in love, peace and self-control.

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