Orthodox Church Leaders met with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and propose a peace initiative for the Middle East
Brussels, September 18, 2012
The Primates of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East met with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels in order to discuss the burning issues of turmoil in Syria and in the Middle East in general.
Accompanied by the former Vice President of the European Parliament Mrs. Rodi Kratsa-Tsagkaropoulou, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Mr. Theodoros II, Patriarch of Jerusalem Mr. Theofilos III and Archbishop of Cyprus Mr. Chysostomos II, and by representing also the Patriarch of Antiochie Mr. Ignatius IV, asked all Member-States to protect the rights of the Christian populations in the area and act towards in bringing peace and security for all the people living in the broader region.
The President of the European Commission expressed his joy for the Primates speeches and visit. He stressed that the positions of the Primates are the ones of the European Commission. Religious freedom is a high and importance priority for the European Commission as well as the protection of the Christian populations in the Middle East or anywhere else they are oppressed and persecuted.
Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso noted also that the EU is closely monitoring all developments in the broader region and continues its work to bring peace to the Middle East. Furthermore, he said that he had visited many Arab countries with Christian populations such as Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Turkey and had met religious leaders such as the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinoupolis. Recently he had also received a visit by the new President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, his Excellency Mr. Mohamed Morsi.
The President noted that the Primates visit is based in cooperation for the support of religious freedom and of the human respect.
Finally he mentioned that he had visited Greece several times and expressed his joy having Greeks contributors such as the MEP Mrs. Rodi Kratsa-Tsagkaropoulou, former Vice President of the European Parliament and Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Deputy Head of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) of the European Commission.
During the meeting, the Orthodox Primates submitted a common signed letter for the protection and promotion of the rights of the Christians wherever there are faithfuls of the three Abrahamic Religions.
His Beatitude the Archbishop of Cyprus Mr. Chysostomos II noted the need of meeting with the European Commission and the Primates of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East on a frequent base.
The common signed paper on the protection and promotion of the rights of Christians by Primates of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East.
INITIATIVE OF THE HEADS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONCERNING THE SITUATION OF THE CHRISTIANS IN THE REGION
TO THE EUROPEAN UNION.
We Christians have been living in the region of the Middle East since ancient times. Therefore, we consider that all efforts aiming at ousting us are unreasonable and unjust. Even when other religions conquered our land, we have always managed to adjust ourselves and find ways of symbiosis and peaceful coexistence with them.
However, the recent increasing influence of extreme fundamentalist elements in the region, directly jeopardizes the lives of Christians in their ancient cradles. We witness daily aggressions against Christian places of worship, killings of innocent people, violent acts and atrocities against Christian properties, as well as violations of the most elementary human rights of Christians. Christians are thus forced towards expatriation. Thousands have already left their ancient cradles and have become refugees in various parts of the world, seeking more security.
We call upon the European Union and all those willing to intervene, in order to put an end to this blatant injustice. More specifically, we call upon them to exercise their influence in order to protect all aspects of religious freedom and worship in the region. Moreover, we would appeal to them to preserve and save from desecration and pillage the places of worship and the Christian cultural monuments in this tumultuous land, e.g. in Syria and the occupied Cyprus.
These temples and monuments are part of the world cultural heritage, therefore belonging to Humanity as a whole.
As Christian leaders, we call upon all the religious and political leaders and every person of good will to contribute to the peaceful coexistence of all the Communities in the Middle East.
We reiterate the commitment of our Orthodox Churches to the Middle East Council of Churches and pursue through it the strengthening of relations among all Christians of the Middle East and the development of friendly, harmonious and peaceful relations among the believers of the Abrahamic religions.
As Heads of the Orthodox Churches we cannot remain indifferent towards the challenges facing our region, in view of the political and socio-economic changes taking place there nowadays. We therefore underline the need for a peaceful solution of all conflicts, through constructive dialogue.
Moreover, we stress that Syria is a country in which churches have always co-existed side by side with mosques, in a unique symbolism of symbiosis, fraternity and mutual respect, bringing people closer together. As Heads of Churches of the Middle East, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Cyprus, we reiterate our commitment to support all the efforts and necessary initiatives, aiming at restoring peace and tranquillity in that country.
Brussels, 18th September, 2012
†Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II,
†Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius IV,
†Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III,
†Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus Chrysostomos II