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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Joins in Appeal Condemning Violence in Mideast and Urges World Leaders To Use All Means To End Unrest

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Apr 19, 2002

Istanbul, Turkey, April 17 -– Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with Christian, Islamic and Jewish leaders here last week and joined in signing an appeal to end war and violence and terrorism in the Middle East and in other areas of conflict in the world. In strong language, the appeal stated that encouragement of military operations and terrorism will transform today’s world into a hell and sow the seeds of hatred in future generations, endlessly proliferating violence. “War leads to violation of human rights and justice and is founded upon blood, tears and misery that does not benefit anyone,” said the appeal, which was released today.

His All Holiness has, on his own, directly appealed to world leaders with special attention to the visit to the Middle East of United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, to intervene “to exhaust all possible means” to bring an immediate end to the unrest and to bring back peace to the region and its peoples, it was revealed today by the Chief Secretariat of the Holy Synod.

In a series of letters, His All Holiness addressed President George W. Bush, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, European Commission President Romano Prodi, as well as the American Secretary of State, expressing his “deep concern” in a “heartfelt appeal” to intervene and stop what he termed “senseless killing that is occurring among peoples of different faiths who live together in the same region.”

Secretary of State Powell ended his visit to the region today without a ceasefire in effect and the continued confrontation of the warring parties in the West Bank. However, he announced an international commitment to negotiations and a comprehensive settlement of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Ecumenical Patriarch, who has worked actively to convene leaders of the major religious faiths to promote cooperation and specific acts to defuse conflict, characterized each of the leaders as an ardent promoter of “interfaith dialogue and mutual understanding among world religions.”

In his appeals to President Bush and Secretary of State Powell, His All Holiness, in a reference to September 11, said that the United States,better than any other nation, because of the tragic consequences of the distortion of understanding among differing faiths, would realize the urgency of immediate intervention.

Throughout the letters, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, referred to “the Holy Land” and said he prayed that “enlightened leadership” would bring an end to the conflict “in order to make God’s desire for good will and mutual understanding between individuals, nations and faiths prevail in this land, which is central and holy to millions of God-fearing people throughout the world.”

His All Holiness, who has traveled in the recent past to Bahrain and to Iran late last year, has been meeting with Jewish and Moslem leaders, as well as representatives of governments in the Middle East to find ways to defuse the conflict. He is in daily touch with Patriarch Ireneos of Jerusalem, who leads a large community of Orthodox Christians and administers the vast majority of sites holy to all Christians.

In addition, His All Holiness has designated the director of the Orthodox Liaison Office to the European Union, Bishop Emmanuel of Reghion, as his representative for interfaith cooperation and has dispatched him to Jordan, Egypt and Iran, amongst other nations in the Middle East, where the Ecumenical Patriarchate has established good relations.

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