War and violence are not inevitable and religious leaders can show another way, says Bartholomew, Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.
He was addressing the 17th Eurasian Economic Summit, speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a founding member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
“As faith communities and religious leaders, we are obliged constantly to remind people about the obligation and responsibility to choose peace through dialogue,” emphasised the Patriarch.
The summit was held 4 to 6 February in Istanbul, Turkey by the Marmara Foundation.
“Human conflict may well be inevitable in our world; but war and violence are certainly not,” said Bartholomew. “If our age will be remembered at all,” he continued, “it may be remembered for those who dedicated themselves to the cause of peace”.
Speaking about interfaith dialogue, the Ecumenical Patriarch noted that “historical conflicts between Christians and Muslims normally have their roots in politics and not in religion itself.”
“Christians and Muslims have lived together, sharing the same geographical region, in the context of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires,” he pointed out.
These historical models, Bartholomew said, reveal “possibilities in our own world, which is shaped by pluralism and globalisation.”
“This is precisely why a dialogue, which acknowledges differences but also suggests ways to negotiate differences, may prove helpful to map out appropriate avenues of communication.”
“It is the only way of discovering the peace,” added the Ecumenical Patriarch.
* Speech by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the 17th Eurasian Economic Summit in Istanbul: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=62075