Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Essays about Orthodoxy

 

Conciliar Proclamation against Religious Violence
Issued by the Patriarchate of Alexandria - 23 November 2012
 
Source: Ecclesiastic News Agency  www.romfea.gr/ektakta-nea-2/14608-2012-11-23-13-49-16

 

 

After the updating of the Body of the Hierarchy by the Rev. Metropolitans and the Bishops who represented the Venerable Prelate and the Alexandrian Church in inter-Orthodox, inter-ecclesiastic and inter-Christian dialogues and international conferences, as well as the examination of contemporary, multi-level social problems and the approval of the final text of the Conciliar Proclamation opposing religious violence, the proceedings of the Holy and Sacred Council of the Patriarchate of Alexandria were concluded on the 23rd of November of this year.

In closing the proceedings of the Holy Synod, His Most Divine Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore II expressed his wholehearted thanks to all the Hierarchs of the Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark for their laborious and sacrificial poemantic opus in the Continent of Africa, pointing out that at the epicentre of missionary activity continue to be the spiritual instruction of the Christ-named flock and the Evangelizing and qualitative upgrading of the lives of our African brethren, with special attention given to the orphaned children, the combatting of illnesses and the development of education.

In his antiphony, the Rev. Metropolitan of Pelusium, Elder Callinicus, praised the Venerable Prelate's unsleeping paternal care for the clergy and the laity of the  Ancient Church of Alexandria.

His Beatitude then apposed an official farewell meal in the Grand Patriarchal Dining Hall in honour of the Honourable Members of the Holy Synod.

 

CONCILIAR PROCLAMATION AGAINST RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE

Mankind has recently become witness to a series of eruptions of religious violence, such that have disrupted community peace, in the form of intimidation, persecutions, compulsory expatriations, tortures, or even executions.

These atrocious acts, above and beyond every logical boundary and prudence, bring to memory images from dark ages that we all hoped had passed into History's oblivion.

Apart from the exceptionally negative social and psychological consequences at a local level, the incited eruption of phenomena of religious violence has blackened - through the rapid interactive society of information - the image of civilizations and religions at a universal level, thus creating bridgeless chasms and impenetrable walls between people of a different confessional identity, through uncontrolled psychological incitation and illogical emotional arousal of the masses.

The use of violence, under the cloak of religious faith, constitutes a thorough perversion of the meaning of whichever religious tradition, inasmuch as religions as a whole are obliged to function as a carrier of unity between people.  More especially, the use of violence as well as tolerance towards it is entirely inappropriate for those who believe in Christ. 

It is imperative to stress that violence as a practice is not only a meaning that annuls the Gospel; it is essentially a complete denial of Christ, Whose God-human Person is the hypostasis of love according to John's quote "God is Love" (John 4:8); of peace as "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Phillip 4:7), and, after all, of Life itself according to the unerring evangelical word: "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 11:25).

Throughout Her entire history, Orthodoxy has suffered the violence of persecutions innumerable times - by status quos that were alien, or of other religions and anti-Christian - the truthful witness of which is Her Book of Saints, which is adorned with the heroic figures of Martyrs and Confessors who offered their very lives out of love for Christ.

Even so, the highest possible paradigm of love and sacrifice for the sake of man's existential veridicality and salvation is the God-man Himself, Jesus Christ, Who offered His life as an innocent victim, for the union of humankind with God.

With God's condescension as the unerring indicator, Who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3,16), we wish to address our Christian brethren throughout the African Continent and elsewhere on earth, who are suffering for their faith.

We call upon them to remain steadfastly faithful to the confession of love of our Faith, not forgetting that our Lord had reassured us on one hand about the calamitous results of violence, by stressing that "all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matth.26:52) and on the other hand about the deserved reward of self-sacrificing piety, by stressing that: " whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." (Matth.32-33).

We call upon all those who commit inhuman acts of religious violence or show tolerance towards them, to consider that God, as the Creator, the Principal and the Fount of the world, is the God of all nations and all people; the God of Love, of Providence and of Salvation "according to the multitude of His compassion" for all of His creations.

We call upon national and international politicians, as well as peace-making and humanistic carriers to implement active policies for the interception of senseless religious violence - which has as its gnomon the exploitation of people's religious sentiment and their inability to comprehend and tolerate religious differences - so that it cease to function as a Trojan horse that sanctifies religious intolerance and religious fanaticism.

It is time for people to cease calling upon God to serve their divisive or terrorist choices - be they collective or personal.  It is time to marginalize psycho-pathological obsessions of zealotism that claim to be on supreme missions from God but are realized with the use of every possible means - even that of aggressive or vindictive violence.  It is time for people to cease politicizing religion, or religionizing politics and falsifying religious belief by linking it to totalitarian tendencies, chauvinism and tribalism, for the purpose of hatching wars that are falsely declared as "holy".

On the threshold of the third millennium from the salvific incarnation of the Son and Logos of God, mankind is realizing on the one hand the perennial validity of the axiom that "an unholy and god-less city... there never has been, nor shall there be seen" (* Plutarch: Against Colotes 31), and on the other hand, the self-evident principle that there cannot possibly be peace without peace between religions.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria, as the oldest carrier of the Gospel's word in Africa, is struggling - and struggles on a daily basis - for the existential propagation of Christ's words as the path towards holiness and deification.

From this position, it outrightly rejects and categorically renounces every form of religious violence, inasmuch as it is an ineffective expression of moral complicity of faith with violence - an undesirable expression of trivialization and downfall of the crown of divine creation: mankind.

Towards this end, it labours philanthropically, poemantically and sacrificially towards the espousing of a loving and forgiving conscience, far from inappropriate blind instincts; a conscience which, by moving "not only towards those of a like nation, but towards everything of like nature" (Cyril of Alexandria, PG 72,686), will be capable of expelling the illogical element of violence and be re-forged, into a domicile of God. A conscience that may be temporarily joined to the earthly homeland, but is forever aiming for the true homeland: the Eternal Kingdom of God.

The Great City of Alexandria, 23rd November 2012.

 

Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore II
Archbishop of Axum, Elder Peter
Archbishop of Pelusium, Elder Callinicus
Metropolitan of Kampala (Uganda), Jonah
Metropolitan of Harare (Zimbabwe) and Angola, Seraphim
Metropolitan of Lagos (Nigeria), Alexander
Metropolitan of Capetown, Sergius
Metropolitan of Cyrene, Athanasius
Metropolitan of Carthage, Alexis
Metropolitan of Mwanza, Jerome
Metropolitan of Ptolemais, Proterius
Metropolitan of Guinea, George
Metropolitan of Hermopolis, Nicholas
Metropolitan of Irenoupolis, Demetrius
Metropolitan of Lusaka (Zambia) and Malawi, Joachim
Metropolitan of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Damascene
Metropolitan of Khartoum (Sudan), Emmanuel 
Metropolitan of Yaounde (Cameroon), Gregory  
Metropolitan of Central Africa, Nicephorus
Bishop of Antananarivo (Madagascar), Ignatius 
Bishop of Katanga (Congo), Meletius
Bishop of Maputo (Mozambique), John
Bishop of Leontopolis (Egypt), Gabriel
Bishop of Accra (Ghana), Savvas
 
*****************
 
(*) AGAINST COLOTES, THE DISCIPLE AND FAVORITE OF EPICURUS. - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 5
"...but there was never seen nor shall be seen by man any city without temples and Gods, or without making use of prayers, oaths, divinations, and sacrifices for the obtaining of blessings and benefits, and the averting of curses and calamities. Nay, I am of opinion, that a city might sooner be built without any ground to fix it on, than a commonweal be constituted altogether void of any religion and opinion of the Gods or, being constituted, be preserved."
 

 

Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 26-11-2012.

Last update: 26-11-2012.

UP