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The Ecumenical Patriarchate issues statement on Religious Tolerance and Violence

Communiqué for Respect of Religious Differences and Cessation of Violence

The Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses profound sorrow as the world has rushed into a confusing and volatile time of religious protests turning violent, and a grievous lack of consideration for religious differences.  When we act disrespectfully and violently in the name of our religious prejudices or our religious beliefs we are undermining our own lives and faith, while creating an atmosphere of anger, hatred, and distrust which unravels the very thread that has woven humanity together since our creation. 

The Ecumenical Patriarchate issued last August a communiqué “On the resurgence of Violence spreading throughout the World” and called for all people engaged in violence to lay down their weapons.  Given the events of the past weeks, this call for peaceful engagement and mutual respect for all humanity is even more critical.

Holy Scripture teaches us in Proverbs 10.12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins”.  Hence, let us love one another because we know that true love comes from God who created every living person, and He loves every individual in His Divine Providence.  We who profess to know God must recognize the Divine miracle of life within each human being and respect that seed of Divine creation.  We who name God as our sovereign must nurture human life and reach out with honor to that person with whom we disagree.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate believes it is our obligation to dialogue with those who are different than we are to gain insight into the other’s symbols, their priorities, and their way of thinking.  Symbols are external representations to which all people connect their own internal meaning and values.  In developing an understanding of the symbols, we come to understand the person.  To destroy symbols is to inflict pain on the people who honor those symbols and the traditions they represent in their heart.

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I continues to call all humanity to adopt a “radical conversion of attitudes, habits and practices” and to attain that level of commitment where we “are open to sharing all things with all people.” He points us to St. John Chrysostom who wrote: “the sacrament of ‘our neighbor’ cannot be isolated from the sacrament of ‘the altar’”.   In pursuit of these truths and in humble recognition of the Divine in all people, His All- Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Ecumenical Patriarchate denounce treating one another with disrespect, disdain, and destructive hatred. In the end, no one benefits from hateful speech, unfounded accusations, misunderstanding of cultural differences, and blaming others to avoid responsibility. Regardless of the path one’s conscience has chosen to follow, we are all intricately woven together into a Divine tapestry and must recognize the beauty and inherent worth of every other thread and cease with the destruction of any part of our collective beauty.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 29th of September 2012

From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod

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