Παρασκευή, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2015

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE "Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence In the Middle East"

"Religious and Cultural Pluralism and
Peaceful Coexistence In the Middle East"

Athens, 18-20 October 2015

Presentation by His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thank the Government of Greece and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikolaos Kotzias, who invited me. It is well known that Canada fully respects human rights. It has an Office of Religious Freedom and I am a member of its External Advisory Committee. Whatever I shall say, I say it in the name of the True God, whose Grace I invoke to all.

1. There are three main monotheistic religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam; their combined followers make up more than half of the planet’s population. There are more than 4,000 religions and confessions in the world.

2. There are also many people who believe in many ‘Gods’; even the Ancient Greeks who were exceptionally sophisticated, fashioned their ‘Gods’ according to their own likeness, causing division and war among the ‘Gods’.

3. Today, some faithful of monotheistic religions kill in the name of ‘God’ and thus they prove that their ‘God’ is a pseudo-God.

4. There is only one true God and therefore one Truth; this God and this Truth must be taught to all people.

5. Leaders of monotheistic religions should consider this and strive to teach God’s Truth to all.

6. How do the leaders of monotheistic religions feel when people abandon their faith in God because these religions do not teach the same God? Is it not the duty of these leaders to do everything possible to teach the people about the one true God?

7. At a minimum, religious leaders have a duty to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, individuals or organizations who impose their will on other people, as some Islamists do, or kill, in the name of 'God.'

8. It is also the duty of these leaders to teach tolerance among the people so that justice and peace will prevail for all.

9. The current situation in the Middle East is unbearable. The Arab Spring, which was supported by the West, did not produce positive results. Division and fighting persist with people suffering greatly; in Syria, hundreds of thousands have been killed or injured and fighting there has produced millions of refugees.

10. Tellingly, most refugees are attempting to immigrate to Western nations, with few choosing to go to rich, predominately Muslim countries. Why? The motivating reason I believe is because in Western nations human rights are respected.

11. Media report and some government officials claim that among the refugees, Jihadists are infiltrating Western countries with the aim to annihilate them; as a consequence, we see groups in many of these countries, including Germany, protesting against refugees and the influence of some Islamic teachings.

12. One dangerous outcome of the multi-year conflict in the Middle East is the so-called ‘Islamic Caliphate’ or ISIS.

13. An American-led coalition is fighting ISIS which claims to govern by divine authority, does not recognize democratic institutions, discriminates against religious minorities and kills thousands in the name of a pseudo-God.

14. On a side note, is it not true that in some predominately Muslim countries followers of other religious are obliged to pay more in taxes?

15. Unfortunately, now, there is emerging an unacceptable divide between the U.S.-led coalition and Russia regarding the fight against ISIS.

16. Terrorist groups and countries who harbour them and who do not respect the freedom and rights of all of their citizens should be penalized; but by whom?

17. I would suggest that this role be taken upon by a revitalized and reformed United Nations.

18. Should the UN not be given additional powers to impose peace and justice when there is an unquestionable need to do so?

19. A reformed UN is needed to take on this role, beginning with a restructured Security Council to eliminate the ability of one veto member stopping international intervention in war-torn countries and to avoid conflicting approaches as we are witnessing between the U.S.-led coalition and Russia in Syria.

20. The will of nations, based on both number and population, should prevail and this should be led by the United Nations.

21. No one should be naïve enough to think that this can be accomplished in short order but I believe that this is the ideal solution and something all countries should strive for.

22. Until that time, though, it is the duty of all countries and religious leaders to ensure that tolerance, freedom and human rights prevail for all people.

23. In closing, we see that with the advancement of science and technology, the planet is now a neighbourhood.

24. Humanity is God’s creation and all people are His children; therefore, if we desire peace and justice for all, we must live as one family, in one neighbourhood, with leaders of countries, big and small, acting in harmony and cooperation.

I thank you fervently.

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