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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Rededicates Holocaust Monument

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May 30, 2003

May 30, 2003

Thessaloniki -- Expressing “endless grief” at the execution of tens of thousands of Thessaloniki’s Jewish population during World War II, Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki affirmed that we are to fight for the creation of a peaceful world where all people will co-exist in harmony. “We should explain to our children and our fellow human beings,” the leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians stressed, “that such crimes of the past must never be repeated, since they were a result of hatred and misjudgment.”

The Minister of Culture of Greece, Evangelos Venizelos, and the Chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Rabbi Israel Singer, also addressed delegates of the Fifth Consultation Between Judaism and Orthodoxy, which had concluded a two-day meeting here. Participants joined the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki for what was described as a rededication of the Holocaust Monument.

The group also visited the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki and gathered for a ceremony at the Jewish Community where the Ecumenical Patriarch and Andrew Athens, President of the World Council of Hellenes, who had hosted the Consultation, were made honorary citizens of the Jewish Community. Rabbi Singer was similarly honored the day before.

In accepting the honor, the Ecumenical Patriarch declared, “it is in our interest to have justice and equality for all minorities since whatever people offer and recognize in any country to minorities, the same will be enjoyed in their own country.”

In addressing the Consultation last Tuesday, the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “Fanatics are not the elect of a specific faith but rather the weakest among its believers.” The interfaith meeting, attended by more than 60 delegates of the two faiths from around the world, issued a final Communiqué calling for an effort to “educate the faithful of both religions to promote healthy relationships based on mutual respect and understanding to confront bigotry and fanaticism.”

In addition, the Communiqué called for an annual day devoted to Jewish-Christian relations, welcomed new developments that could bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians and urged the immediate recognition of Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem by the Government of Israel

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