Tag Archives: ethno-phyletism

St. Patrick’s Challenge to Nationalism

by Pieter Dykhorst

This is how we can repay such blessings, when our lives change and we come to know God, to praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven….I testify in truth and in great joy of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any other reason for returning to that nation from which I had earlier escaped [Ireland], except the gospel and God’s promises.

—St. Patrick

Few saints are as well known or have so much written about them as Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. The body of work attributed to the very real 5th century Christian missionary and saint of that name is so large––and the historical record suggests that much of that work took place over significantly more than the span of one lifetime––that some scholars suggest there must have been two Patricks or that some unknown contemporary shared the work.

The St. Patrick we know, on whom the legend is based, did leave behind a written record that tells us a great deal but far too little to confidently describe his accomplishments. Patrick’s own words suggest that while all of the astounding growth and success of Christianity in Ireland in that period may not be directly attributable to him, his work laid the foundations for much of it.

Patrick left us two documents––a short biography and a letter––that provide a brief sketch of his life, a number of clues about the nature and scope of his ministry, and considerable insight into the nature of his faith, theology, and character. The wide-angle picture they give of his life and ministry offer few details, and together they wouldn’t fill half an issue of In Communion.

Most of the legend of St. Patrick comes from hagiography written down more than a century later. They connect the dots Patrick provides for a more robust picture of his life. But they also conflate his story with what was done by others who came after him. Much in them may be taken as reliably descriptive of Patrick and his life but cannot be taken as factual without additional evidence.

A third narrative informing contemporary notions about Patrick is the popular cultural fiction full of fun things like green beer, leprechauns, and pots of gold.

The Irish are not alone in surrounding an important historical figure with a popular mythology. The society without such mythologies probably does not exist. Patrick is on our cover in this issue for two purposes. Without begrudging Patrick his place in Irish hearts, we want to rescue him from being a saint merely for the Irish and restore him to the whole Church for all to venerate. By getting to know each other’s saints, we engage in bridge building and are drawn into a richer Orthodoxy and away from our tendency to remain too comfortably settled in our jurisdictional, cultural, or ethnic ghettos.

The makeover of Patrick from Orthodox saint to national patron also serves to exemplify how Christians may over time fall prey to erroneous thinking about not only our collective cultural and historical identities but also our Christian identity. By the 15th century, St. Patrick was only one of about thirty-five “pattern day” saints (patrons) in Ireland, albeit possibly the most important. He become Ireland’s Patron Saint when he was made the emblem of Irishness at the rise of Irish nationalism beginning in the 18th century. By teasing Patrick’s narratives apart, we find in him a father of the faith to the Irish around whom they may gather for celebration, but nothing like a national hero.

Very late in his ministry and near the end of his life, Patrick wrote his two documents. They clearly suggest he didn’t write much else, at least not earlier and nothing that might have been intended as a record. His very short Confessio was written self-consciously to the posterity of his Irish children in the faith, and the Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus was written against the chief of a band of murdering and plundering slavers who raided the Christians under Patrick’s care. One may feel a natural skepticism toward autobiographical sketches, but while Patrick’s words erect a bare biographical framework, they convey a profound and believable humility. Reluctant to tell his story, he seems more compelled to talk about God’s faithfulness, his own unworthiness, and his great love for his Irish children in Christ.

Patrick’s confession begins “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.” And then in one short paragraph, he offers nearly all of what he eventually gives us of the bones of his biography:

My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae [somewhere in Roman Britain]. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others.

Image of Dumbarton Castle. One theory of Patrick’s origins holds that he came from near Dumbarton in present day Scotland. No one knows where Bannavern Taburniae was.
Image of Dumbarton Castle. One theory of Patrick’s origins holds that he came from near Dumbarton in present day Scotland. No one knows where Bannavern Taburniae was.

He tells us that his story would be long if he told his “each and every deed” in Ireland. But he doesn’t; instead, his biography is really a lengthy confession of God:

So I am…a refugee, and unlearned. I do not know how to provide for the future. But this I know for certain, that before I was brought low, I was like a stone lying deep in the mud. Then he who is powerful came and in his mercy pulled me out, and lifted me up and placed me on the very top of the wall. That is why I must shout aloud in return to the Lord for such great good deeds of his, here and now and forever, which the human mind cannot measure.

So be amazed, all you people great and small who fear God! You well-educated people in authority, listen and examine this carefully. Who was it who called one as foolish as I am from the middle of those who are seen to be wise and experienced in law and powerful in speech and in everything? If I am most looked down upon, yet he inspired me, before others, so that I would faithfully serve the nations with awe and reverence and without blame: the nations to whom the love of Christ brought me. His gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.

Only after several paragraphs does Patrick offer just a little more detail about his circumstances. We learn that he and the many with him were taken because they “deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments.” He describes his life as a simple shepherd and tells of hearing God’s voice prompting him to escape, which he did after six years; about his years-long journey to return home again; and how he eventually returned to Ireland ––again being directed by God in visions––probably in his forties and over the strong protest of his family. Patrick’s Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus is similarly written in the style of a confession but with a more practical purpose. A lament for the killing and plundering of Christians and an encouragement to his beloved suffering Irish children in Christ, he begins the letter with these words:

I declare that I, Patrick, an unlearned sinner indeed, have been established a bishop in Ireland. I hold quite certainly that what I am, I have accepted from God. I live as an alien among non-Roman peoples, an exile on account of the love of God––he is my witness that this is so…. The truth of Christ stimulates me, for love of neighbors and children: for these, I have given up my homeland and my parents, and my very life to death, if I am worthy of that. I live for my God, to teach these peoples…. With my own hand I have written and put together these words to be given and handed on and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus. I cannot say that they are my fellow-citizens, nor fellow-citizens of the saints of Rome, but fellow-citizens of demons, because of their evil works. By their hostile ways they live in death…. They are blood-stained with the blood of innocent Christians, whose numbers I have given birth to in God and confirmed in Christ.

After descriptions of Coroticus’ crimes, encouragement to the suffering Irish Christians, and a defense of his ministry, Patrick ends with a purposeful appeal:

I ask insistently whatever servant of God is courageous enough to be a bearer of these messages, that it…be read before all the people, especially in the presence of Coroticus himself. If this takes place, God may inspire them to come back to their right senses before God. However late it may be, may they repent of acting so wrongly, the murder of the brethren of the Lord, and set free the baptized women prisoners whom they previously seized. So may they deserve to live for God, and be made whole here and in eternity. Peace to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It would be surprising if “each and every deed” of Patrick’s life were not repeated, did not become legendary, and did not also evolve by the time they were written down. by his own testimony, Patrick converted thousands, preached all over Ireland, and had dealings with kings and chieftains––he tells of one king who was quite unhappy when his daughter, guided by Patrick, became a nun. There were also conflations, fictionalizations, and inaccurate attributions. We learn from the legends, for example, that Patrick founded monasteries, faithfully taught about the Trinity to a pantheistic culture, and wrote certain poems and prayers that have survived. Likely he did found monasteries—he wrote of the many Christians under his care who entered monastic life—though no historical proof exists that he founded any, and he gives clear evidence that he faithfully taught the Orthodox doctrines of the Trinity, though historians doubt he used the shamrock to do so. It wouldn’t be surprising if he wrote prayers and made contributions to liturgical practice, yet historians doubt he wrote the ones attributed to him, and none others any longer exist.

he ruins of Slane Abbey, where legend claims Patrick lit a Paschal fire in defiance of the local king, who in admiration of Patrick’s devotion allowed him to continue preaching. Slane Abbey is one of many monasteries possibly founded by Patrick.
The ruins of Slane Abbey, where legend claims Patrick lit a Paschal fire in defiance of the local king, who in admiration of Patrick’s devotion allowed him to continue preaching. Slane Abbey is one of many monasteries possibly founded by Patrick.

Some of what is handed down is wholly fiction. He didn’t drive snakes from Ireland. Scientists who know tell us there is no evidence there have been any in Ireland since at least the last ice age, though banishing snakes may be metaphor for converting druidic folk to the worship of God in Christ. Patrick didn’t convert all of Ireland––that was mostly accomplished by the 14th century. He didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland and wasn’t the first Christian bishop—Christianity reached the island about a hundred years earlier and at least one bishop preceded him. Probably he was also not the only bishop in Ireland during his lifetime.

It remains for the skeptic to believe, however, that Patrick is not central to the story of the Irish Church, for no matter how sparsely documented are the lives of certain figures, popular culture never escapes their influence or fails to form collective memories of them. When those memories are later recorded and work done by Patrick’s spiritual children and grandchildren is attributed to him, the credit isn’t wholly misplaced. Knowing better the true story shouldn’t diminish him. The man who spent himself for the Irish “so that you may have me for yours,” and who “traveled everywhere among you for your own sake, in many dangers, and even to the furthest parts where nobody lived beyond, and where nobody ever went, to baptize and to ordain clerics or to bring people to fulfillment” remains worthy of collective commemoration of Christian faithful everywhere.

The Irish have succeeded in making Patrick their own, though he is not considered something like an Irish ethnic forebear. He became one of the most successful symbols of national identity anywhere by simple inclusion in the common national narrative. Patrick was one of many saints celebrated in Ireland when his feast day was taken over by parades, all things green, Guinness beer, and rousing music and fun prose. Over time many other elements of Irish identity were included—the Blarney Stone, Leprechauns, pots of gold—as St. Patrick’s Day evolved into a celebration of all things Irish.

As is very often the case among expatriate communities, Irish emigrants were among the most vocal advocates not only for creating and preserving a coherent and distinct Irish identity but for championing the political cause of the motherland. The keenest boosters of Irishness and Irish independence from Britain were found in America in the 18th century where the first St. Paddy’s Day parade took place in New York City as part of the nascent Irish Nationalist movement.

As the Irish formed communities in America, they began for the first time to think of what it meant to be Irish in the midst of others. Most had never thought in terms of ethnicity or national identity. Being Catholic became subordinate to being Irish as they sought to build and preserve their cultural distinctiveness. Over time, Gaelic culture became the matrix of Irish identity, in contrast to English culture. As the narrative of Irish cultural nationalism secularized, so did Patrick. Nobody seemed to notice that the saint was being erased from the page.

Despite being a driving force in most civic and international conflict, nationalism is much misunderstood. Irish nationalism is but one form, and Patrick provides but one example of a figure being co-opted in a nationalist project. Americans do not think of themselves as nationalistic, yet America broadly fosters a Civic Nationalism of a politico-credal sort even while other forms of nationalism flourish among a variety of groups, among them the messianic, religious nationalism of some Evangelical Protestants in which America is God’s chosen among the nations of the world. Americans often confuse patriotism with nationalism but they are not the same thing at all 1. One need not be a patriot to be a nationalist or a nationalist to be a patriot, or one may be both. Orthodox too hold to a variety of nationalisms, some of them are overtly religious while others are less so.

Bridal Party on the Hardanger, by Norwegian Romantic Nationalists Adolph Tideman and Hans Gude, is an example of 19th century Norwegian art commissioned to strengthen the notion of Norwegian separateness in Scandinavia in a bid to split from union with Sweden. The boat is carrying a group dressed in “traditional” Norwegian garb who are leaving a church. The imagery mimics Orthodox conceptions of the Church carrying the saints in an alien and hostile world.
Bridal Party on the Hardanger, by Norwegian Romantic Nationalists Adolph Tideman and Hans Gude, is an example of 19th century Norwegian art commissioned to strengthen the notion of Norwegian separateness in Scandinavia in a bid to split from union with Sweden. The boat is carrying a group dressed in “traditional” Norwegian garb who are leaving a church. The imagery mimics Orthodox conceptions of the Church carrying the saints in an alien and hostile world.

Among all forms of nationalism, religion remains the most powerful tool in any nationalist identity-building project because of the nature of religious belief. Religion is primary to believers’ sense of being human in the world. With religion at the core of understanding about the world and self and how all things relate to one another, religion becomes a handy cornerstone of collective-identity building around which many nation groups are formed. Who we are (personal ideas of identity are not possible without collective identity—it is the matrix in which personal identity is formed) unconsciously infuses every thought and perspective and thing with meaning so that we may say culture—that which defines the parameters and content of collective identity—becomes as water is to a fish, something not noticed until it is either threatened or absent or until something in stark contrast is presented as an alternative. When our culture—that is to say our collective being—is threatened or challenged, it’s existential primacy becomes immediately apparent as we instinctively defend it as we would our lives. Religion thus is often usefully the key element, albeit only one, of a complete montage of cultural components built together to form the being of each member of a national group from birth.

Religion-infused cultures abound. Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant countries (examples: Greece, Spain, USA) with long histories of Christianity being a dominant culturally formative factor could not be imagined without their Christianized character, regardless of whether or not any or most of their citizens still think of themselves as Christian. A couple of good examples of Christianity being consciously used to create an exclusive national identity, with varying degrees of success, would be in the increasingly influential narrative of America as a Christian nation uniquely blessed by God or the Greek nationalist project that conflates ancient Hellenic history with Byzantine Orthodox history to create an exclusive Orthodox Greek nation. Religion so used becomes the defining element of a nation-forming group’s identity. Their cultural particularities become the evidence of God’s blessing––the standard of good citizenship––and the means by which his blessing is maintained. Religious nationalism in any of many forms is the most obdurate and formidable of all nationalisms, Orthodox nationalisms being good examples rather than exceptions. Orthodox Christians often understand nationalism to be the same thing as ethnophyletism, which is the conflation of ethnic, or racial, and Orthodox identities to form nation groups that form the basis of both Church and State. The manifestations of this in the Balkans in the late 19th century—think principally of Greece or Bulgaria—was the cause of a Holy and Great pan-Orthodox Synod in Istanbul condemning this kind of nationalism in 1872. Orthodox who now routinely condemn ethnophyletism often remain nationalists of another type. But the nasty treachery of all nationalistic thinking is that it always makes us exclusive.

An example of non-ethnophyletic nationalism with religious dimensions among Orthodox is the Arab Nationalism of the Syrian Ba’ath party (forming around cultural “Arabness” with language as the primary identity marker) and which is held by large numbers of Syrian Orthodox Christians. A recent statement posted to the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate’s website in the name of Patriarch John X,2 states that “The Church of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox makes a point to affirm at all times that it is a daughter of the nation and is the abode in which they reside.” In the statement, the Mosque and the Church are linked as equal sister-daughters of the nation of Syria. In the Arab nationalism of the Syrian Ba’ath––as distinct from the Iraqi Ba’ath, which they split from in 1966––one is first a Syrian Arab and then either Orthodox or something else. Arab, Syrian, and Orthodox are thus conflated in a way that is not only wrong but much contested by other Syrians, Arabs, and Christians.

Not all difference is exclusive, however, and the warmth we naturally feel for our own cultural heritage is part of being human and is the natural consequence of how we are formed socially, culturally, linguistically, and generally in our whole-world view. The normal cultural differences that exist between groups are generally never intended to divide. The real problem of nationalism among Orthodox, however, is not in so benign a thing as the cultural preference of “Cristos anesti” over “Christ is risen” or “Krishti ungjall” or in enjoying plum pudding over baclava or in certain ritualistic preferences during the Divine Liturgy: while these things may naturally provide distinction as between families, they need not be divisive. The problem manifests when there is conflict or when difference forces the kinds of choice that expose competing allegiances and we begin to fight either to defend our difference or to elevate it. The contorted apologetics for the Syrian and Russian governments common among Arab and Russian Orthodox that fly in the face of fundamental Christian values is the result of such conflated loyalties.

One evidence of conflated Orthodox and national identity is the very modern phenomenon of making saints national heroes or national heroes saints. something that by its nature is divisive within the Kingdom of God and should be anathema to the Church but is instead common!

A common manifestation of softly held or unconscious nationalist sentiment is an elitism that sometimes makes others feel less “Orthodox” for being of another jurisdictional, ethnic, or cultural group because of the way we cleave to our national identity. The division of the Orthodox world into cultural and ethnic jurisdictions has created what some call Orthodox ghettos (ghetto implies separation not poverty) wherein a monolithic way of being Orthodox that results in isolation is created by the conflation of our own customs with the Orthodox faith. Visitors to Orthodox parishes should not be made to feel they must first, or even also, become Greek, Serb, Russian, or Arab to become truly Orthodox. Looking to the future, American Orthodox should avoid creating a similar attitude that elevates a version of culturally American Orthodoxy over other forms––something many are already promoting.

When Christ sent his disciples out, he called them ambassadors, people who represent the interests of one state to the leaders of another. Ambassadors who are confused in their allegiance are likely to be called spies and may be stripped of their citizenship rights, imprisoned, and often executed, as are citizens who switch sides to serve the interests of a rival state. It shouldn’t surprise us that the earliest missionaries usually found themselves in courts and before kings declaring their allegiance to God and were commonly martyred for it. Christ did not tell his disciples “You should not serve two masters”; he said “You cannot.” For, when you serve the one, you automatically oppose the interests of the other: you must choose. Ultimately, attempting to simultaneously serve two rival interests merely makes one useless to both. When the released Syrian and Lebanese nuns of Mar Thecla monastery contradicted the widely held perspective among Orthodox that they were being mistreated during their captivity, they were branded by the Church as traitors to Syria and unfaithful to the Church3. The conflated loyalties of the Church leaders in this instance promoted their national loyalty and compromised their spiritual sense.

When we consciously choose to exclusively serve Christ, we cultivate our Christian-ness to be a culturally transformative force rather than guarding it as part of our inherited cultural identity. Our lives are neither gift nor extension of anything earthly: we are not merely products of a history stream and so we do not owe our primary allegiance to any other product of history, such as a nation-state.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ’For we also are His children’ (Acts 17:26-28).

The Irish rightly love Patrick for his sacrificial work of building up the Irish Church, a legacy that lasts into eternity. But the very inclusion of Patrick in the Irish nationalist mythology diminishes him and casts a shadow over a saint who belongs to the whole Church everywhere and everywhen. It is a fundamental aspect of being human that we are defined by others, though at times in our development we are allowed to choose by whom. Like the apostle Peter, Patrick chose his identity in Christ. In answering Jesus with “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” Peter was given his own identity. It was in his recognition—by the Father’s revelation—of Christ that he was captured and transformed into a citizen of God’s Kingdom to be eventually martyred by Rome, the symbol of earthly citizenship.

Patrick willingly became a servant of “the nations” to whom he was sent from his home in Britain—there was no Ireland then, only the chaos of competing kingdoms just the other side of the Roman frontier. By the 4th century, a primitive Irish was widely spoken but a variety of Celtic languages were still common. Patrick saw an island in need not of “civilized” culture, Imperial rule, or a strong local king to bring lasting stability but the gospel. He went to share the gospel with “the nations to which the love of Christ brought me” at the end of the world, where he thought he was. Nationalism is a modern phenomenon, but it is possessed by the same sick spirit as tribalism, culturalism, ethnicism, imperialism, and so many other isms. Only as each of us discovers our full and true identity in an encounter with Christ, the Son of the living God, will we find the cure for the sickness of nationalism.  IC  [wpanchor id=”footnotes”]

 

Footnotes:

1. Simple working definitions: Patriotism is the natural love for one’s own country; nationalism is a political philosophy that claims statehood belongs primarily to distinct and exclusive national-identity groups. Click HERE for information on the OPF resource on nationalism, For the Peace from Above. Also search our website for more resources.
2. The full statement may be found on our website in Arabic HERE and in English HERE. Ba’athism is a socialist Arab Nationalism that conflates numerous identity groups to form the fiction of a Syrian nationality for the purpose of creating a secular state of Syria. Michel Aflaq, an Antiochian Orthodox, was a founder of Ba’athism. Hafiz Assad was its champion, and like Bashar today, was ruthless in eliminating competing political parties. The current civil war is the continuation of that struggle. The Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate supports the Assad family and its nationalist ideology, though they may not be Ba’athist––Patriarchal statements often reflect more general Pan-Arab nationalism. 3. From the Patriarchal statement referenced in footnote 2.

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Competing nationalist narratives in Syria create false dichotomies that force people into mutually exclusive identity groups.

2 Christian muslim magic carpet cartoon

Ba’athist nationalism creates a Syrian identity that falsely conflates Christian and Muslim as sister-daughters of the nation. Sectarian nationalists of various kinds manipulate and exploit religious difference to divide and create conflict.

2 steeple minaret cartoon

Chapter 9: Official statements

OFFICIAL STATEMENTS

9.1. The Local Synod of Constantinople 1872

The Local Synod of Constantinople was caused by the unilateral establishment of a separate bishopric by the Bulgarian community of Constantinople. It was the first time in Church history that a separate diocese was established based on ethnic principles and not principles of Orthodoxy and territory in the city of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch of Constantinople convened a local Synod to discuss the matter. Below follows the Synod’s official condemnation of ecclesiastical racism, or Ethno-phyletism”, as well as its theological argumentation.

Extract from the Statement of the Local Synod which met in Constantinople in August 1872

We renounce, censure and condemn racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissentions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers which ‘support the holy Church and the entire Christian world, embellish it and lead it to divine godliness’.[1]

A section of the report drawn up by the special commission of the pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople in 1872 set up to investigate racism. This section includes the general principles which the Synod took when it condemned racism and issued its “definition”.

The question of what basis racism — that is discriminating on the basis of different racial origins and language and the claiming or exercising of exclusive rights by persons or groups of persons exclusively of one country or group — can have in secular states lies beyond the scope of our inquiry. But in the Christian Church, which is a spiritual communion, predestined by its Leader and Founder to contain all nations in one brotherhood in Christ, racism is alien and quite unthinkable. Indeed, if it is taken to mean the formation of special racial churches, each accepting all the members of its particular race, excluding all aliens and governed exclusively by pastors of its own race, as its adherents demand, racism is unheard of and unprecedented.

All the Christian churches founded in the early years of the faith were local and contained the Christians of a specific town or a specific locality, without racial distinction. They were thus usually named after the town or the country, not after the ethnic origin of their people.

The Jerusalem Church consisted of Jews and proselytes from various nations. The Churches of Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Rome and all the others were composed of Jews but mainly of gentiles. Each of these churches formed within itself an integral and indivisible whole. Each recognised as its Apostles the Apostles of Christ, who were all Jews. Each had a bishop installed by these Apostles without any racial discrimination: this is evident in the account of the founding of the first Churches of God.

… The same system of establishing churches by locality prevails even after the Apostolic period, in the provincial or diocesan churches which were marked out on the basis of the political organisation then prevailing, or of other historical reasons. The congregation of the faithful of each of these churches consisted of Christians of every race and tongue.

… Paradoxically, Church of Greece, Church of Russia, Serbia, Moldavia and so on, or less properly Russian Church, Greek Church etc., mean autocephalous or semi-independent churches within autonomous or semi-independent dominions, with fixed boundaries identical with those of the secular dominions, outside which they have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction. They were composed not on ethnic grounds, but because of a particular situation and do not consist entirely of one race or tongue. Nor has the Orthodox Church never known racial churches of the same faith and independent of one another to co-exist within the same parish, town or country.

… If we examine those canons on which the Church’s government is constructed, we find nowhere in them any trace of racism. (…) Similarly, the canons of the local churches, when considering the formation, union or division of eccesiastical groupings, put forward political reasons or ecclesiastical needs, never racial claims. (…) From all this, it is quite clear that racism finds no recognition in the government and sacred legislation of the Church.

But the racial principle also undermines the sacred governmental system of the Church….

In a racially organised church, the church of the local diocese has no area proper to itself but the ethnic jurisdictions of the supreme ecclesiastical authorities are extended or restricted depending on the ebb and flow of peoples constantly being moved or migrating in groups or individually. … If the racial principal is followed, no diocesan or patriarchal church, no provincial or metropolitan church, no episcopal church, not even a simple parish, whether it be the church of a village, small town or a suburb, can exist with its own proper place or area, containing within it all those of one faith. Is not Christ thus divided, as He was once among the Corinthians, by those who say: “I am for Paul, I am for Apollo, I am for Cephas” (1 Cor. 1:12)?

… (On the need to establish racially based churches, ed.) No Ecumenical council would find it right or in the interests of Christianity as a whole to admit such an ecclesiastical reform to serve the ephemeral idiosyncrasies of human passions and base concerns, because, apart from certainly overthrowing the legislative achievements of so many senior Ecumenical councils, it implies other destructive results, both manifest and potential:

First of all, it introduces a Judaic exclusiveness, whereby the idea of the race is seen a sine qua non of a Christian, particularly in the hierarchical structure. Every non-Greek, for instance, will thus be legally excluded from what will be called the Greek Church and hierarchy, every non-Bulgarian from the Bulgarian Church, and so on. As a Jew, St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, could only have been a pastor in one nation, the Jewish. Similarly, S. Cyril and Methodius, being of Greek origin, would not have been accepted among the Slavs. What a loss this would have entailed for the Church!

… Thus the sacred and divine are rendered entirely human, secular interest is placed above spiritual and religious concerns, with each of the racial churches looking after its own. The doctrine of faith in “one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” receives a mortal blow. If all this occurs, as indeed it has, racism is in open dispute and contradiction with the spirit and teaching of Christ.2″

— Constantinople, 10 August 1872

From: Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes, The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, Thessaloniki, 1976, pp. 303-308

9.2. The Bosporus Declaration

The Bosporus Declaration was issued in February 1994 by religious leaders of different faiths gathered in Istanbul, Turkey. It is an authoritative statement on the understanding of some of the world’s leading religions of the conflicts that have struck the former USSR and Yugoslavia.

1.The participants in the Conference of Peace and Tolerance wish to thank the Government of Turkey for the courteous hospitality it has extended to us, an opportunity to pursue deliberations on the vital issues of peace and tolerance. The Conference wishes to recognize the contributions of President Clinton, President Demirel, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and all the other religious and political leaders who have sent messages of support.

In this declaration we wish specifically to refer to the Berne Declaration of November 26, 1992, which has given us a foundation on which to build. That declaration specifically states that ‘a crime committed in the name of religion is a crime against religion.’ Since November 26, 1992 we have seen many crimes committed in the name of religion and we, the Conference participants, wish to speak out vigourously against them. As recent events have shown, the crimes against humanity continue in Bosnia, in Armenia-Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tadjikistan. The cruelties have continued unchecked and we demand an end to this brutality. We, the undersigned, reject any attempt to corrupt the basic tenets of our Faith by means of false interpretation and unchecked nationalism. We stand firmly against those who violate the sanctity of human life and pursue policies in defiance of moral values. We reject the concept that it is possible to justify one’s actions in any armed conflict in the name of God.

We wish to emphatically remind all the faithful that the scriptures of all three monotheistic religions specifically speak of peace as a supreme value. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ ‘Allah summoned to the abode of peace.’ ‘His ways are the ways of peace.’

2.We reiterate that the war in former Yugoslavia is not a religious war and that appeals and exploitations of religious symbols to further the cause of aggressive nationalism are a betrayal of the universality of religious faith. We emphasize the imperative of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion of every minority. We call for an end to the confiscation, desecration and destruction of houses of worship and of holy and sacred places of whatever religious tradition. We totally abhor and condemn ethnic cleansing and the rape and murder of women and children. We demand the removal of obstacles that prevent humanitarian assistance from reaching those who are suffering. We condemn the use of force in countries of the former Soviet Union. The conflict in Georgia, Armenia-Azerbaijan, and Tadjikistan must be concluded immediately and solutions of the outstanding issues must be found by other means. We recognise that all who are suffering are victims, but single out specifically the most tragic and innocent victims who are the children.

3.We ask our religious communities to embrace children from the areas of conflict in God’s love and to extend all possible assistance to the suffering children, to help them to find spiritual, psychological, and physical healing. We cannot emphasize enough that spiritual nourishment is a paramount requirement; Religious communities must be supported. We also recognise that all the countries suffering from conflict have had a long, dark period of Communism where there was little or no spiritual education. We urge all faiths to redouble their efforts for spiritual guidance for those who were deprived. We wish to recognise also that tension exists within faiths and urge the leaderships of those faiths to bring about peaceful resolutions to the issues which divide them.

4.The conference participants, as all others who have followed these tragic conflicts, observe with horror the forced migrations of refugees. Millions have experienced or are threatened by forcible displacement. Therefore, we call upon all religious faiths to speak out clearly and consistently against these actions. We condemn those who uproot families from their homes, tear children from their parents, divide husband and wife in the name of false nationalisms. We expect all religious leaders to stand fast in the protection of all those threatened by involuntary migration, whatever their religious beliefs or ethnic backgrounds. We demand that all refugees who have left their homes involuntarily be permitted to return with dignity and honour; that the religious communities strengthen their institutions to receive, assist, and protect refugees of whatever faith; that religious and lay relief agencies develop procedures to coordinate their efforts. As long as the conflicts continue we urge all countries to extend temporary asylum to victims, while granting opportunity for refugee status to those who truly seek it; to increase resources for relief; and to work with all who are of good faith for the cessation or hostilities.

5.The participants in the Conference on Peace and Tolerance have agreed unanimously to utterly condemn war and armed conflict; to demand that no hostile acts be perpetrated upon any peaceful group or region in the name of a religious faith; to demand the initiation of constructive dialogues to solve outstanding issues between those of different faiths; and to demand the right to practice one’s religion in freedom and with dignity.

6.We have deliberated carefully and are in agreement that the wanton killing must stop; that those who continue to perpetrate such heinous acts are criminals and that, although we have no weapons of war and no armies for combat, we have a greater strength — the strength of spiritual might. We totally condemn those who commit the brutalities, the killings, the rapes, mutilations, forcible displacement, and inhuman beatings.

7.We, the conference participants, have decided to establish an Appeal of Conscience Conflict Resolution Commission, to deal with ethnic conflicts. The Commission will be made up of representatives from all of the faiths and from all of the countries represented at this conference. The AC Conflict Resolution Commission will be responsible for informing Commission members and recommending ways and means to deal with the scourge of extreme nationalism and ethnic conflict.

— Istanbul, 8 February 1994

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I

His Eminence Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, President of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Turkey

His Eminence Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice Cor Unum

9.3. Statement on the situation in Armenia-Azerbaijan, 1993

Extracts from the Statement of the peace-making encounter of the heads of religious communities of Armenia and Azerbaijan, gathered through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Danilov Monastery, 18 November 1993.

We, the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of all Armenians and President of the Supreme religious council of the peoples of the Caucasus and the spiritual head of the Muslims of Azerbaijan, using the high mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church, have discussed the immediate measures that we, responsible religious workers, can and should undertake to save our peoples, to rebuild peace and civilised relations among them.

… We firmly refuse the attempts to represent this conflict as inter-religious. Those who preach hate among religions commit a heavy sin before the all-Highest.

… It is imperative to lead armed forces out of territories that have been occupied by the force of weapons. War should not be waged against the people. All prisoners and hostages that both sides hold should be released. Any form of internationalisation of the conflict, which may have unpredictable consequences, must be firmly countered.

… All these actions can become the basis of negotiations, which should find a peaceful and just resolution of the disagreements. Additionally, this decision should really serve the interests of all inhabitants of the conflict zone, independently of their nationality or confession.

— Danilov Monastery, Moscow, 18 November 1993

9.4 Statements on the events in Russia, October 1993

In October 1993, the tensions between opposing factions in the government of Russia reached a climax in the stand-off around the White House, the seat of the Russian parliament. The following statements of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church have been taken from a full survey of the mediation attempts of the Russian Orthodox Church during the conflict published by CEC, WCC and the French Protestant Federation in November 1993.

Appeal By the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexy II

Russia is on the brink of the abyss. We now face the choice: we either put an end to the madness or bury all hope of a peaceful future for Russia. It is particularly tragic that today the Russian state is in danger of falling apart. Should that happen, we would be condemned by succeeding generations.

The virtually intolerable confrontations around the White House can degenerate into carnage from one moment to the next. And thus, with tears in my eyes, I appeal to the different parties in the conflict: Let there be no shedding of blood! Do not undertake any act that may disrupt the extremely fragile peace! Do not try to solve the political problems by force! Do not give in to madness! Do not cease to display mutual respect for human dignity! Have the courage not to be influenced by any kind of provocation, no matter how painful and insulting it may be! Be mindful that the present confusion may be exploited by extremists, criminals and quite simply, by evil people.

One shot fired at the White House could lead to disaster, the bloody consequences of which could engulf the entire land. It is for precisely this reason that I call for all peaceful means to be used to diffuse the armed confrontation. At the present complicated moment, it is necessary to show mercy towards everyone. No political objectives should prevent the people inside the White House from being supplied with medicines, food, water and medical attention. It is inadmissible that physical exhaustion should be used to prompt the parties involved into uncontrollable, violent actions.

In the name of the Church, I call upon the opposing parties to engage in dialogue and I offer any form of mediation at this fateful moment. In connection with the events currently taking place, an emergency session of the Holy Synod has been convened.

I call upon all the right-thinking Christians to pray for the salvation of Russia. May even those who have never turned to God in their life now call upon Him. I believe that Lord will give strength to his people and that He will bless his people with peace! (cf. Ps. 28:11)

— Moscow, 29 September 1993

ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Statement By the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

The turmoil into which Russia has been plunged prompts us to raise our voice for the sake of life and peace for our brothers and sisters.

The armed confrontation at the White House in Moscow has generated tension throughout the land. Everyone to whom Russia is dear knows that the present conflict could have disastrous consequences, causing bloodshed or the destruction of the state’s power.

In the present fateful moment, Christ’s holy Church must say to the people: “Take thought! Be mindful of the words of the prophet: ‘… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…’ (Deut. 30:19)”.

There is only one honourable way out of the present dangerous impasse: dialogue, based on observance of the rules of law and the renunciation of force. Bloodshed must be avoided under all circumstances. Otherwise, every hope of peace will vanish as bloodshed immediately throws up an unsurmountable barrier between those embroiled in the conflict. We must grasp the fact that no differences of opinion give us the right to behave like enemies towards one another. We are convinced that none of the persons now confronting each other is really the other’s enemy. May each of you be mindful that on the other sides of the barricades are your brothers and sisters, to whom you must be kind. All methods of gross, violent coercion of the will of persons or disregard of their freedom must be rejected as inadmissible. Therefore, no acts should be committed that will lead to chaos in the country’s economic and public life.

We call, above all, for the army and security forces not to be dragged into political disputes. If the army and the public order and security forces are sacrificed to political ambitions, those responsible are committing not only murder, but also suicide. He who first takes recourse to violence will inevitably face defeat and condemnation.

With the power that God has given to us, we officially declare that whoever raises his hand against the defenseless and sheds innocent blood shall be cast forth from the Church and anathemised.

The present turmoil could lead to the greatest disaster of all — the disintegration of Russia’s unity. Therefore, all leaders of the Russian regions must understand one thing: secessions and divisions do not solve local problems. It is impossible to hide from general misfortune behind the walls of one’s own little house. Only together can we overcome the difficulties now facing the people.

We are happy that the Church’s offer of mediation in the present conflict has been well received by the people. We hope that the dialogue now under way will be successful and stress that the churches are ready at all times to assist in the attainment of peace and harmony in State and society.

We urgently call upon the mass media to present an objective and unbiased picture of the country’s political and economic reality. The price of ignorance or error is today too high. Even incomplete information distorts the truth. We are firmly convinced, however, that the mass media should and must serve reconciliation and healing in this conflict, not fuel passions and entrench confrontation.

May our people’s leaders make use of this new opportunity to end the turmoil by peaceful, legitimate and just means. We will, however, pray for peace for the Russian State and people. As of today, fervent prayers will be offered every day in every church for the restoration of peace in our fatherland. The words of Tikhon, the Most Holy Patriarch of All Russia are applicable here: “Rich and poor, scholar and simple folk, old and young, girls and boys, unite and, like the people of Nineveh, put on the penitential robe and pray for God’s bounty, that He may have mercy on Russia and save it.”

May God not turn away from our fatherland! May God save us! May God grant our people peace, well-being and prosperity in all things!

— The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia ALEXY II

Members of the Holy Synod:

The Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine VLADIMIR

The Patriarchal Exarch of All Byelorussia,

The Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk PHILARET

The Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga IOANN

The Metropolitan of Krutitsky and Kolomna YUVENALY

President of the Church Office of External Relations, The Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad KIRILL

The Metropolitan of Orenburg and Busuluk LEONTY

The Archbishop of Kaluga and Borovsk KLIMENT

The Bishop of Tver and Kashin VIKTOR

The Bishop of Talinn and Estonia KORNILY

The Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal EVLOGY

The Bishop of Chimkent and Tselinograd JELEVFERY

The Danilov Monastery, Moscow, 1 October 1993

9.5 Statements on the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1994

Extracts from the Statement of His holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia to the participants at the meeting of the WCC Central Committee in Johannesburg, South Africa 20-26/1 1994

… With sad hearts we see how, knowingly or unknowingly, human beings are destroying the laws given us by God, as one robs the other of justice and peace contrary to Christ’s commandment: “In everything do to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12). We who live in the Balkans and carry out the Church’s ministry in this region of the world, find ourselves daily confronted with unutterable suffering, and not only among the Serbian people whose spiritual head we are but also among other fraternal peoples, be they of other Christian confessions or of the Muslim religion.

In the messages we have addressed to world public opinion and to our own Yugoslavian public the Holy Synod of bishops and I personally have consistently condemned violence, of whatever kind and by whomever it is used, regardless of religion or nation. The true Christian sees that in these wars little heed is paid to the voices of the religious leaders, so that God’s creatures continue to suffer, and most of all innocent people, children, women and those who are frail, old or sick.

… We do not in any way wish to say that there are no wrong-doers on the Serbian side, just as there are on the side of the other belligerents in this senseless war in which there is and can be no winner, but only misery and humiliation before God and before the world.

— Belgrade, 20 January 1994

Extracts from the Message of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

from its extraordinary meeting in Banja Luka, 1-4 November 1994

The Lord will give strength to His people! The Lord will bless His people with peace! (Ps 28:11)

… We are here to give a brotherly kiss of peace to all and send a call for the unconditional ceasing of the insanity of the war and for the establishment of peace and continuation of negotiations. Before God and the people we testify, in our name and in that of our people, to which God has sent and appointed us for the ministry, that we are with all our heart for peace and reconciliation. So, as nobody else desires more bread than the hungry ones, so nobody else desires more peace than those who bleed in the years-long war.

… We request also the leaders of our nation to do everything to establish peace with our up-to-yesterday neighbours, and now adversaries who suffer equally with us. It is dangerous now and illusory to lay the blame upon one another. We must direct our best forces that the conflicts and war be stopped, peace and mutual negotiations be re-established as the only way worthy of men to solve the ensuing problems, according to divine and human justice, for the benefit of both Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We all, as well as the people of good will in the world and the international factors, should employ all our authority and all ethically justified means that the horrors, which threaten the existence of us all, be stopped.

… Raising our voice against further dissemination of evil and hatred among warring peoples of the same tongue, common past and future, we raise also our voice against all divisions and schisms in the Serbian Orthodox nation. Making efforts to establish just peace with our neighbours we should first reconcile with each other. The men of God who for centuries have given an infallible direction for our actions both in peace and war, both in liberty and slavery, expect from us who now represent the Serbian nation and its Church to be worthy of the Orthodox faith and our name; to know how to say and by our own person show that what our Orthodox people should always be: light to the world and salt to the earth; Christ’s sheep among wolves; humans even among non-humans. That the doctrine of the Gospel always be the measure by which we shall measure all our actions, and then the actions of other people: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Mt. 7:12) and the words of the Apostle: “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling”; “For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong” (1 Petr. 3:9, 17).

… Once again we witness before God, before Orthodox and Christian nations, as well as all people of good will: we as pastors and spiritual leaders do not identify ourselves with the authorities on any side of the Drina; but in the same way we cannot separate ourselves from our own our own nation, sinful but belonging to God, in the ecumenical family of nations, but remain with it on the cross on which it is crucified.

… Let us be humans, let us be the people of God, so that the Lord, the Man-lover and Peacemaker, the Saviour of the world, might bless us and all the people with His peace!

— Banja Luka, 1-4 November 1994

Appeal for peace and understanding among all people

Within the general context of the tense contemporary realities, such as those in Bosnia Herzegovina, dominated by violence, chauvinistic nationalism, territorial revisionism, religious fundamentalism, intolerance and fratricidal wars, We, representatives of the two Orthodox families, Eastern and Oriental, Parthenios III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Theoctist, Patriarch of Romania and Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, met in Bucharest, during the month of September, 1994, on the occasion of the session of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches.

We would like to assert together anew the traditional creed, ethos and vocation of Orthodoxy in respect for all people, as we are all together human beings, created and loved by the same God, bearing indiscriminately the same image of our Creator.

Throughout the past centuries and down to the present day, the Orthodox faithful confessed their faith in Christ, the Lord of peace, and prayed for the peace of the whole world and for goodwill among all people and all nations. They also tried to promote friendship and fraternal cooperation, in full mutual respect, with all the faithful belonging to other Christian Churches or religious faiths, especially of Islam.

On the basis of this centuries-old experience of faith and love, we call from the bottom of our hearts and souls, both our believers and those of the other Christian Churches, as well as the Muslims, to rediscover and follow the path of love, peace, tolerance, goodwill and mutual respect promoted and pursued by our common forerunners.

Moreover, our hope is that, by asserting together the spirit of peace and understanding promoted by our faiths, we could avert and avoid the attempts of some radical groups or political contemporary powers who, eager to dominate, influence and acquire supremacy, strive to reach their goal by using often abusively the religious faith and feeling, in order to divide, tear apart, sow and nurture hatred among people, countries and nations.

Let us pray that the God of peace and love be with us all and help us to live the truth that was revealed to us by our Lord Jesus Christ when He said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt. 5:9).

— Bucharest, September 1994

+Parthenios III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa

+Theoctist, Patriarch of Romania

+Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church

9.6 Statements on the Situation in Kosovo, March 1999

Kosovo Peace and Tolerance — Vienna Declaration

We, the representatives of the Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox communities who have lived in Kosovo for centuries, wish to express our sincere thanks to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for bringing us together for this unique and important opportunity to deliberate with one another concerning the fates of our peoples. We also wish to thank our generous Austrian hosts for bringing us together in this land of peace and tranquillity, so that we could have thoughtful and fruitful discussions. We are grateful for the personal participation and support of the President of Austria, H.E. Dr. Thomas Klestil, Chancellor Viktor Klima, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schossel, and the encouragement of President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Kofi Annan, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the President of the European Community, Chancellor the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard Schroder, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Azedin Laraki, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, His Holiness Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia, the World Council of Churches, and many others.

Further, we pray that the efforts in Paris concerning Kosovo will achieve the peace we are all seeking.

Our delegations have come to Vienna from a troubled region, one that has seen much bloodshed and injustice, and we the emissaries of our faithful, wish to state unequivocally that the war that is now raging in our homeland, where our people are being killed and maimed, and where our homes and places of worship, and our schools and monuments are barbarously being destroyed, is not a war of religions. We state categorically that we are against the killing and destruction, and that we stand for dialogue and negotiation to bring about the peace that God demands of us.

We are proud of our homeland and are tied to it by bonds that reach deep into past generations. We want to bequeath that legacy of pride in Kosovo to future generations. We also know only too well our troubled and tragic history. A history that has all too often pitted differing ethnic and religious communities against each other. We know that past conflicts have left deep scars, have caused unspeakable suffering and have brought forth veritable rivers of blood and tears. We cannot ignore those deep wounds and must grieve for those who have suffered.

Without forgetting our sorrows, however, we want to emphasize to our faithful and to all others in Kosovo that history is recounting the past. No one can change the immutable past. But the future is within our power to influence and direct. In the name of our faithful, we can demand an end to the suffering that has plagued our peoples for so long and call on all to look forward, to change the present era of confrontation to one of cooperation. We, therefore, enjoin all who are wrongly fueling the fires of the bloody conflict now raging in our homeland to stop the killing and destruction and join us in the search for peace through discussions and negotiations.

Although our faiths differ, we maintain that human life is of ultimate value. We all serve God and abide by the commandments He has given us to follow. Therefore, we firmly denounce the killing and all acts of violence. We urge our faithful to solve their disagreements peacefully with those of other religions or ethnic backgrounds, as we have done during our discussions here and in the publication of this declaration.

We pledge that we will bring this message of cooperation home to our faithful, that we will distribute it within our communities, and that we will urge all to lay aside their weapons. Only then, when the weapons are silent and all religious and ethnic communities have the right to express their views through open and free discussions, can we achieve understanding, tolerance, and cooperation and find equitable solutions to our differences.

It is with this in mind that we, the representatives of the Catholic, Islamic, and Orthodox faiths in Kosovo lay down these precepts.

1. Stop the killing and all acts of violence.

2. We call for a verbal cease fire to end the polemics of hate and remind all of the words from Proverbs, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

3. In cooperation with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, establish an on-going interreligious “Conscience Contact Group” to continue the work begun by this Conference and to help advance the principle of “live and let live.”

4. Allow all in Kosovo to live in peace, safety and freedom.

5. Insure safe and unimpeded travel in all areas of Kosovo.

6. Permit all in Kosovo to live, worship and work in the knowledge that their basic human and religious rights will not be violated.

7. Preserve and protect houses of worship as well as religious and cultural monuments of all faiths.

8. Permit all ethnic and religious communions to retain their cultural and linguistic heritage and to freely allow those communities to provide education that will perpetuate that heritage.

9. Establish a viable system in Kosovo, one that reflects the wishes of those who live there without violating the rights of any minority.

10. We demand that all assistance from international humanitarian organizations to those in need in Kosovo be transmitted without hindrance and delay.

We, the undersigned, believe that it is our duty to God and to our faithful to state categorically that all must accept the way of non-violence and cooperation. Only then will there be an end to the killing and to the destruction of our homes and places of worship. We, therefore, demand of those who have resorted to misguided violent means to achieve their goals, to lay aside their arms, to withdraw their engines of terrible destruction, and to seize the initiative we offer from our hearts — cooperation and peace — to bring about a better and more fruitful life for all in Kosovo today, and for all those who will follow.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation

His Eminence Reverend Marko Sopi, Catholic Bishop of Kosovo

His Eminence Kyr Artemije, Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Kosovo

The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Professor Qemail Morina, Vice Dean, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Pristina, Kosovo

His Excellency Victor Klima, Federal Chancellor of Austria, Witness

Vienna, Austria, March 18, 1999

Peace Appeal of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, meeting at the Patriarchate on March 23, issued the following statement regarding the threats over Kosovo and Metohija and the threatened bombing of Serbia and Yugoslavia:

Human experience, both old and new and most recently in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, shows that war and violence, particularly inter-ethnic, leaves in its wake only chaos and general misery, with long-lasting spiritual, moral and social consequences and unhealed wounds.

Aware of this, in the name of God we demand and beseech that all conflict in Kosovo and Metohija immediately cease, and that the problems there be resolved exclusively by peaceful and political means. The way of non-violence and co-operation is the only way blessed by God in agreement with human and divine moral law and experience. Deeply concerned about the threatened Serbian cradle of Kosovo and Metohija and for all those who live there, and especially by the terrible threats of the world’s armed forced to bomb our Homeland, we would remind the responsible leaders of the international organisations that evil in Kosovo or anywhere else cannot be uprooted by even greater and more immoral evil: the bombing of one small but honourable European people. We cannot believe that the international organisations have become so incapable of devising ways for negotiation and human agreement that they must resort to ways which are dark and demeaning to human and national honour, ways which employ great violence in order to prevent a lesser evil and violence.

We pray the Lord of peace, the living and true God, in whose hands are judgement and justice, to give to all in Kosovo and Metohija, and throughout our Homeland and throughout the world, peace, justice, security in freedom, and to the powerful of the world understanding and wisdom.

— Belgrade, 23 March 1999

Statement of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Albania

With all our hart we share the pain of those who suffer injustice and violence as a result of the Kosovo crisis. This extremely difficult situation can not be resolved by rhetorical and naive declarations. But, while we pray every day ‘for those who hate us and for those who love us,’ we humbly pray the God of truth and love to bring about a miracle and make peace and justice reign once more in our unstable region, as soon as is possible. We have already contributed, within the limits of our forces, to ease the sufferings of the Kosovars who have left their homes because of the conflict and have settled in Albania. And we will continue to work in this direction.

— Tirana, 29 March 1999

9.7. Syndesmos Statements

Declaration of the Syndesmos War and Peace in Europe Seminar

We are the participants in the Syndesmos seminar on Peace and War in Europe, which met at the Cultural Centre of the Holy Metropolis of Kydonia and Apokoronos, Chania, on the Island of Crete, Greece, October 1 to 9, 1994. Throughout our meeting, we were blessed to have the active presence of His eminence Metropolitan Irineos, who led us on pilgrimages to holy monasteries, parishes and shrines of Crete. We were blessed to take part in the annual festivity of St. John the Hermit at Guverneto Monastery, to venerate the Saint’s relics, and to visit the caves where he lived, suffered and fell asleep in the Lord.

We often hear the word “Peace” in our Holy Liturgy. Church members are called to transfigure their lives in the Holy Liturgy so that they will be a witness to the angelic words: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will to all people.”

During the days we spent in dialogue the following points were considered significant:

1. We remind ourselves that being a peacemaker is one of the Beatitudes and is connected to all the others. If we disconnect peacemaking from the other Beatitudes, we are not be called peacemakers, as we see in anthropocentric peace movements. To avoid the evils of this world, we suggest that we Orthodox should participate in catechetical formation courses about peace, rooted in the Holy Liturgy and the Tradition of the Fathers.

2. We appeal for strongly-bonded Orthodox co-operation in peace efforts. This includes efforts to overcome divisions that exist among Orthodox Churches. There are wounds in the body of the Church which are not the fault of others but of ourselves. We need to pray in repentance for these wounds to be healed.

3. Inter-Orthodox solidarity can be expressed with the strengthening of our existing Orthodox network of agencies for merciful activities. To ensure better use of available resources and to avoid overlapping assistance to victims of conflict, the Church should seek to cooperate and share information with relief organisations working in the same areas wherever it is possible.

4. We support the efforts of the Serbian Orthodox Church in her struggle to find a peaceful solution for the war in former Yugoslavia as well as justice for her people. We also express dismay at the failure of the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical organisations to see the Serbian Orthodox Church in a way not blinded by prejudice and one-sided press reports. We pray and hope that God will bless all the peoples of former Yugoslavia with peace and mutual respect.

5. Being Orthodox means to be a soldier of Christ, that is someone engaged in the fight against evil. People are not the main instigators of conflict but, when they do not resist evil, become tools in the hands of Satan, who always rejoices whenever those who are made in the image of God shed each other’s blood. The main weapon in our combat with Satan is repentance, which must begin with ourselves. As Hegumen Ephrem of the Monastery of Philotheou, Mount Athos, told our conference: “Everyone who does not truly repent and apply the commandments of God is an enemy of God. How can he make peace? How can he sacrifice himself out of love?”

6. Conflict is not only war but any action that causes innocent people to suffer. While economic sanctions are sometimes described as non-violent, in fact the resulting shortage of medicine and food causes many deaths, especially among the young and aged. This too is a form of war. Humanitarian assistance should not be affected by sanctions against any country.

7. Similarly, the distribution of humanitarian assistance should be practised regardless of the beneficiaries’ convictions or identity, but only the needs of the people.

8. We note that in the European region, many conflicts are occurring in areas where Communism dominated, especially in former Yugoslavia and parts of the former USSR. The collapse of Communism left a void easily filled by new evils. It is not, however, the cause of war but rather its absence that has exposed old unhealed wounds.

9. We wish to express solidarity and concern over the fate of Orthodox minorities in the world, particularly in the Holy Land considering its special place in the hearts of Christians everywhere. We appeal to Orthodox churches in Europe to try to understand the different issues concerning conflicts there, especially those of a religious nature.

— Chania, Crete, October 1-9, 1994

A Cry of World Orthodox Youth Regarding the Kosovo and Methohija Crisis

This text was written by the Albanian and Serbian delegates and unanimously adopted by the Assembly.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’

–Mt 5:9

We, the representatives of over 120 Orthodox Youth movements from more than 40 countries worldwide, who have gathered in the XVIth General Assembly of Syndesmos, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, wholeheartedly sympathise with the pain of all those who have suffered injustice and violence in the crisis in Yugoslavia. We also condemn violence, ask for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, and pray to the God of Truth and Love to perform His miracle so that a just, permanent and peaceful solution can be found for the troubled area of Kosovo and Metohija. We pray that the Lord will enlighten all those who wield power in the whole region, to act with wisdom and seek peace and sincerely to respond to human misery wherever it is found. Noting the close personal interest of His Holiness Pavle, Archbishop of Pec and Patriarch of Serbia, and His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania, we applaud the Orthodox Churches of Serbia and Albania for their efforts in peacemaking and relieving human pain before and during the crisis.

The delegates further ask all sides involved to act quickly to make good the environmental damage in Yugoslavia and the surrounding countries, and to contribute to the work of reconstruction before the onset of winter, so that the destruction of the civilian infrastructure caused by violence will not result in the widespread loss of innocent human lives. We also pray that God will help both the Patriarchate of Serbia and the Autocephalous Church of Albania to continue to respond to the tragedy with compassion and forgiveness.

We finally express our deep sorrow and condemn the destruction of Holy monasteries and churches, as well as mosques and other religious and cultural monuments in the suffering region.

— Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Valamo, Finland, 24 July 1999