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Pan-Orthodox Council: final statement, “the Church is sensitive to the cry for justice of peoples”

“The Holy and Great Council has opened our horizon towards the contemporary diverse and multifarious world”. “The Orthodox Church is sensitive to the pain, the distress and the cry for justice and peace of the peoples of the world”. The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church has sent this significant message to “the Orthodox people and to all people of good will”. The message was released yesterday following the celebration of Divine Liturgy at the end of the work of the Council which met in Crete from 20 to 25 June and was attended by some 290 participants from 10 different Orthodox Churches. For the first time in 1,200 years, the leaders and the representatives of the Orthodox Churches met and made public in their statement the decision to convene a Council on a regular basis every 7 to 10 years. Many are the topics touched on in the message. In the first paragraphs, the Council Fathers stress the “great importance” of dialogue with non-Orthodox Christians, explaining that the “dialogues conducted by the Orthodox Church never imply a compromise in matters of faith”. The Churches also express their deep concern for the “explosion of fundamentalism” in the world. Hence the unequivocal condemnation of “the extension of military violence, persecutions, the expulsion and murder of members of religious minorities, forced conversions, the trafficking of refugees, the abductions, torture and abhorrent executions”. The Churches are following with concern the situation of Christians and persecuted minorities in the Middle East and call on the international community to spare no effort to put an end to “armed hostilities”. To facilitate the peace process in those regions, the Churches urge “the civil authorities, the citizens and the Orthodox Christians in the countries in which the persecuted are taking refuge to continue to offer help to the limit or even beyond the limit of their abilities”. The message also addresses other key topics: science and its advances, the ecological crisis, respect for the particular characteristics of people, and politics. The document ends with a reference to young people: “you are not only the future, but also the dynamic and creative present of the Church, both on a local and on a world-wide level”.

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