Ecumenical Patriarch: “Terrorism is a stranger to any religion”

Moscow, April 28, 2017

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On Wednesday, April 26, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew left Geneva, where he had addressed the World Council of Churches the day before, for Cairo, where he attended and addressed an interreligious conference at Al-Azhar University on Thursday. His address, “Religions and Peace,” focused on the importance of religions and interreligious dialogue in today’s world, and his view of the equally peaceful nature of all religions.

The international peace conference was attended by representatives of the religious, political, and academic spheres from various states, Romfea reports. Conscious of his inter-religious audience, His Holiness speaks throughout of “religion” in general, rather than the particularities of Orthodox Christianity and union with Jesus Christ.

The patriarch opened by noting the increase in terrorist attacks over the past two decades, which have left countless dead and injured, “and which are becoming the greatest threat and source of fear for contemporary societies,” and which are typically blamed on religion. He also highlighted the simultaneous willingness for peace-promoting dialogue among political, religious, and secular leaders.

“How, then,” Patriarch Bartholomew wonders, “after so many conferences, declarations and initiatives for peace, could we witness an increase of violence, instead of noticing a progress in peace making?”

To understand our modern world, he pinpointed four areas in which, not simply Orthodoxy in particular, but religion in general plays a critical role: Religion is connected with the deep concerns of the human being, providing answers to existential questions and opening eternity to man; Religion is related to the identity of peoples and civilizations; Religion has created and preserved man’s greatest cultural achievements, moral values, compassion, and respect for all of creation; and Religion is a vital factor in the peace process.

His All-Holiness did note that religion can cause divisive intolerance and violence, but, speaking of all religions equally, added, “this is rather [religion’s] failure, not its essence, which is the protection of human dignity.”

In his explanation, the extremes of relativism and fundamentalism distort and prevent these essential roles of religion in the modern world, noting that fundamentalism provides skeptics with arguments against faith. Relativism “denies the existence of truth,” while in his presentation, fundamentalism is that which “considers that its own truth is unique, and must therefore be imposed over the others.”

The patriarch recalls the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Saint Petersburg or Stockholm, and the most recent against Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria. Of course, all of these attacks were carried out by Muslims and in the name of Islam, although this point does not appear in the patriarch’s speech. Describing all religions as having the same ideals, he states, “The truth is that violence is the negation of the fundamental religious beliefs and doctrine.”

Romfea notes that His All-Holiness received a round of applause from the audience gathered in heavily-Islamic Egypt when he affirmed, “We would like to oppose at least one prejudice: Islam does not equal terrorism, because terrorism is a stranger to any religion.” He also noted that the encyclical of last year’s Cretan Council also emphasizes that fundamentalism does not “belong to the essence of the phenomenon of religion.”

The Constantinopolitan prelate offered the counter-example of the Mediterranean region, which he characterized as a place of peaceful cohabitation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims over the past several centuries, where people of various religions living together find “the most fundamental message for humanity which unites.”

Drawing to a close, he called upon all nations, states, and religions to work together to overcome the violence that we see so often in our world today, as with the various Islamic attacks he had previously referenced. “We need one another; we need common mobilization, common efforts, common goals, common spirit… Our future is common, and the way toward this future is a common journey,” he stated.

In conclusion, the patriarch addressed the inter-religious gathering, with the same words of the Psalmist with which he had opened his presentation to the World Council of Churches: Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity? (Psalm 133:1).


Isaac1/12/2018 6:52 pm
Emile, great question!

I would also like to know whether he has ever read the bible, outside of conducting Church services where he HAS TO read and listen to the Gospels?
Emile6/24/2017 7:50 pm
Has His Holiness ever read the Quran?
Brian Johnston5/4/2017 11:07 am
By using the words "must therefore" Bartholomew conflates that which “considers that its own truth is unique" with that which must "be imposed over the others.” In other words according to this definition, just to hold to a unique truth is to impose ones will on others and deny them free will.

How does Bartholomew explain such a statement, when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me" (John 14:6)

Bartholomew should also know that there can be no peace through these human endeavors apart from Christ Jesus, "for unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be on His shoulder. His name will be called the Angel of Great Counsel, for I shall bring peace upon the rulers, peace and health by Him. Great shall be His government, and of His peace there is no end ..." (Isaiah 9:5-6)

We must pray for Bartholomew.

The Lord have mercy on us sinners.

Rdr Andreas Moran5/1/2017 12:52 pm
In response to the comment of Prodromos, it is true that Patriarchs of Constantinople for a long time have been in a difficult situation because of restrictions imposed by the Turkish authorities. It is also true that Patriarchs of Constantinople are subject to influence from the USA; one has only to consider the fate that befell Patriarch Maximos V.

However, it is incorrect to say that those who express concern about Patriarch Bartholomew’s ecumenism do so ‘for reasons known only to their own pride, egos, and ignorance’ – there is widespread unease about ecumenism, and the current Patriarch’s support for it, from leading hierarchs of local Orthodox Churches to Athonite fathers to distinguished theologians to ordinary members of the faithful. To judge all these who feel and express concern as proud and egotistical is unwarranted, and such people are certainly not ignorant.
Anthony5/1/2017 11:32 am
@Prodromos. Greetings of the day! Rejoice my beloved! And many, many thanks for taking the time to offer a sober analysis of the Phanar and the ''cross'' the man bears, whilst taking a swipe at those of us fundamentalists who find his new age ''theology'' in and of itself revolting. Prodromos, maybe you should read the lives of the saints to understand what real cross-bearing entails. It means fidelity to Christ and His Church, and ultimately Truth. Read about St Mark of Ephesus, St Photius of Constantinople and all the other real Saints of our Church who bore far heavier crosses than the current Phanar, and literally saved the Church from complete annihilation to heresy. That is what cross-bearing in the Church entails. Standing up for Truth, no matter what in the face of lies and aggression. If the Phanar is not up to the task, then he should step aside. Try educate yourself on what ecumenism entails and you may see why the man irritates a good many of us - below is a starter for ten:

And I say again raise your hands up high and rejoice.
George5/1/2017 11:13 am
It makes me sad to see so much liberalism in the Church. Modernism is so totally pervasive that it is terrifying to contemplate. There has been such a revolution in human society in the last 100 years that is without precedent. I live in America and the architecture and city design is absolutely horrible and sickening. Classical architecture is superior to the filth that adorns our city centers today. The habits of dress are another degradation, as well as the severe degeneracy of manners, sexuality, and culture. Most music is filth, modern art is completely filth, spoken and written language are extremely lacking in order and intelligence. Modern religious views and ecumenism are dumb. All modern political ideologies are trash. Our establishments and universities promote error and prohibit even questioning the established errors. Also, studies have also shown that the average IQ of Europeans has decreased 20 points since 1860. In short, our society is completely enslaved to the devil.
Paok4/30/2017 9:42 pm
The fruit of P. B.'s teaching can be understood in how our sister Dana understood and interpreted what he said. Clearly the patriarch is not promoting the teachings of Holy Orthodoxy, but a new age, gnostic worldview. Highly unfortunate!
Anthony4/30/2017 1:05 pm
@Dana. Greetings of the day! Rejoice my beloved! And many many thanks for taking the time out to clarify who ''god'' is. So when the hindu's address their cows as god, then they're god I guess. And when the muslims say there is no god but allah, as a direct affront to Christianity in denial of the Triune God, then allah is the same god as the Trinity - one God in three Persons, even though there is a direct contradiction here. Etc. etc. etc. Thanks so much once again Dana for sharing your enlightened thoughts with us. As on so many other occasions, so once again now I say, let us all raise our hands up high, and with one accord chant Kumbaya me Lord Kumbaya.
Prodromos4/30/2017 8:38 am
It's truly horrifying to read negative comments against His Holiness. Most will never know the cross he truly bears, and the scars he must endure, even for those intent on tripping him up for reasons known only to their own pride, egos, and ignorance.
michael smebak4/29/2017 11:49 pm

Just one comment. In consideration that in India
alone, the religion of peace killed over 400
million people through the years, I could not
even read this article, No wonder
few truly respect this man. I bet he did
not even mention that recent attacks were
by Muslims. Oh Well.
Dana Aritonovich4/29/2017 4:42 pm
Describing all religions as having the same ideals, he states, “The truth is that violence is the negation of the fundamental religious beliefs and doctrine.”

I agree 100%! God is God, no matter what you call Him.
Isidora4/29/2017 2:48 pm
Bartholomew has got to go. The man is an Ecumenist heretic who actually hates the Orthodox Church and actively works to see it give up its claim to the Truth and Tradition established by our Lord Jesus Christ. His gawd is an imaginary idol being erected by all those opposed to the Church. We desperately need a council to declare this man and his beliefs anathema, and then the Greeks can do with him as they will (and as the CIA, EU and Turks allow).
Editor4/29/2017 1:59 pm
Anthony: This is not an endorsement, just a news report.
Rdr Andreas Moran4/29/2017 11:44 am
The report says His All-Holiness said, ‘fundamentalism is that which “considers that its own truth is unique, and must therefore be imposed over the others.”’ There is no common understanding in the Church of the meaning of ‘fundamentalism’, a term generally used pejoratively. Even if there is some common ground as to what constitutes fundamentalism, it does not follow that those who may be called fundamentalist would attempt to impose their ‘own truth’ upon others.

His All-Holiness is reported as saying that relativism denies the existence of truth. The Orthodox Church, surely, proclaims the existence of truth, ‘truth’ being Jesus Christ; the Church, unless I am wrong, proclaims that it possesses the fullness of the truth in a way which is unique to it as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. In insisting on the truth of Orthodoxy, were the Church’s confessors such as St Maximus the Confessor ‘fundamentalists’ and were those martyrs whose blood adorns the Church ‘as in purple and fine linen’ ‘fundamentalists’? Are those who strive to hold to sound teaching and guard the deposit and who, being ‘not conformed to the world’, seek to guard the Church against harmonising it with modern western society likewise?
JEinCA4/29/2017 9:57 am
The Globalists have their fifth column within the Church. I have no doubt just as the Soviets of yesterday had KGB agents working as priests and informing on the flock. I wouldn't expect anything less frim the Evil One. This is how the Evil One operates. Divide and conquer.
Anthony4/28/2017 11:19 pm
Why is Pravoslavie promoting this man's garbage. I can see many weak minded westerners who've been indoctrinated into equality and diversity, thinking that Bartholomew's stupid and quite ridiculous assertions which fly in the face of facts are Orthodox in any manner, way shape or form. Komrades. You ought to be very very ashamed of yourselves.
Gregory4/28/2017 9:05 pm
Wow!... Why then be Orthodox? I'm're ok.??..I'm at a loss for words...
Paok4/28/2017 7:44 pm
God have mercy!! We are in biiiiiiiig trouble!
Andrew4/28/2017 7:38 pm
There are many articles which will assist people coming to Orthodoxy. More from the Holy Father's and Contemporary Elders - so that people can be edified on their spiritual journey!
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