WELCOME AT WEDNESDAY BREAKFAST
ARCHON COMMANDER ANTHONY J. LIMBERAKIS
3rd Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom
The Persecution of Christians In The Holy Lands & Middle East Consequences and Solutions
(December 6, 2017 – 8:30 – 9:30 am)
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Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Your Eminences and Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I welcome all of you to this morning fellowship. Yesterday was truly an inspirational day, a day rich with dialogue and conversations, and with the presence of the leaders of our government, a hopeful sign for the work of this Third International Conference on Religious Freedom. Please allow me to express on behalf of all the Archons our abiding gratitude and appreciation for your presence and participation in these most urgent conversations on the fate of Christianity in the lands of its birth and growth.
We all see the dangers encroaching on historic and ancient communities throughout the region. The recent violence against Sufi Muslims in North Sinai in the attack on a mosque that left over 300 dead. As we know so well, Sinai is the home to the Monastery of Saint Katherine, the world’s oldest institution with a continuous history in one place. The violence within the Muslim world between differing traditions – whether they be Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi, Alewi, Druze or any other – demonstrates that the danger is not only against the Christian and Jewish communities. Violence and persecution of one eventually leads to violence and persecution of all. As the prominent Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller – who spent seven years of his life in a Nazi concentration camp said:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
My friends, we must speak out for who suffer this bane of religious hatred and persecution. Thank you for your willingness to add your voices to ours.