The following speeches and addresses were delivered from speakers in the 1st Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom which was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium in November 2010.
I thank God for this honor of being with you this evening at the beginning of our historic conference on religious freedom. I am thankful, first of all, for the mere fact that we are able to assemble peacefully for such a discussion; that we may all take part and speak our minds without hindrance or fear; that we who are clergy may be dressed in the garments of our vocation; and that we may enjoy dinner together, sharing the bounties of God's blessings without hunger or want. In other times, and even now in other places, this meal and this conference could not take place. What we do here is not merely a discussion of freedom: it is an expression of freedom, a celebration of the freedom God gives and God wills for all people of the earth!
Religious freedom is a very complex and ‘hot’ issue in our multicultural societies. This modern human right claims from state and religions more than tolerance towards groups and persons with different religious convictions. Tolerance is easier to practise than the demands of religious freedom. It makes pragmatic concessions to the ‘others’ without granting them their rights. Tolerance often expresses an arrogance, which humiliates.
On behalf of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe and in America, and my colleague Archon Sassayiannis, welcome to this historic International Archon Religious Freedom Conference, Religious Freedom: Turkey’s Bridge to the European Union.
I am very pleased to welcome you in Brussels in our house in the European Parliament. I would also like to thank the organizers for their kind invitation to attend the opening of this conference. I sincerely regret that my Vice Presidency obligations in London have not allowed me to share my thoughts with you in person as I had planned.
With great spiritual satisfaction and gratefulness of heart, we greet all of you, the participants of this truly historic religious freedom conference, as you commence your work and days of collaboration and exchange. We especially thank the sponsors of the event, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, and the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe, in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, for their offering of this most significant symposium.
I am honored and pleased to join you here, today, in the seat of the European Union, to discuss issues of religious freedom and some general concerns expressed by religious minorities in Turkey.
“I warmly welcome the participants to this very interesting conference and I wish them very successful debates.”
With gratitude toward God and with fervent prayer for all people, I greet you with love in the Lord at the opening of this historic International Archon Religious Freedom Conference. Once again, as last night, we express our wholehearted thanks to the Archons of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, both from America and Europe, for a truly impressive preparation and commendable realization of such a promising conference.
It is with overwhelming feelings of pride and gratitude that I humbly offer these closing thoughts to you today. Truly, in the last 48 hours, we have experienced an extraordinary event of lasting spiritual, political, diplomatic and social significance.
It is difficult for me to express in adequate fashion the delight and pride that I feel, on behalf of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for the incomparable success and invaluable significance of the international conference that we have all experienced over the last two days here in the beautiful and historical city of Brussels, the capital of Europe.
5 Issues of Concern
Daily Scripture Readings
3rd Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom to spotlight persecution of Christians and impending disappearance of Christianity from the Holy Lands and Middle East.
Open Doors USA, the California-based non-profit that has tracked Christian persecution for the past 25 years, points out that millions of Christians face interrogation, arrest, torture, and/or death because of their religious convictions and cultural or ethnic identification. The U.S. State Department reports that Christians face persecution in more than 60 countries with Pew Research noting that between 2007 and 2014, Christians have been targeted for harassment in more countries than any other religious groups.
The Hurriyet Daily News reports on 'Hagia Sophia, Halki mark religious freedom panels' by Vercihan Ziflioğlu
An international conference on “religious freedom in Turkey,” was held in Berlin, focusing on the Hagia Sophia and Halki Seminary issues, which have remained problematic for decades.
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