Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I. in Neapel

Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Italy, honourable Giorgio Napolitano,
Your Eminence, brother Cardinal of Naples, Monsignor Sepe,
Dear brothers, members of the blessed Community of Sant’Egidio,
Most beloved Fathers, Brothers and Children of Our Humble Person,

Having clearly in Our mind the statements given by the illustrious guests gathered here together, and the constructive discussions we had; feeling the desire and the need of a peaceful and non-violent world, we wish to contribute to this final moment bearing witness of the Orthodox Church, which we represent. How can Orthodoxy contribute to this universal dream? What is its aim? Its aim is to fulfil divine within man. In other words, we can say that it is the incarnation of God in mankind and in the world.Contemporary world, and, particularly, the European one, is suffering, for having cast out God from the life of man. Many European thinkers have spoken, and speak of, a post-Christian age.

European civilization there is the desperate attempt to replace Christ-God and true Man, with man, characterised by his passions and limits. There has been talk about the death of God. But if God is dead, sin does not exist, because the assumption for sin is the existence of God. As Dostojevskij wrote: “Without God everything is allowed”. Everything is relativized, supreme values are ousted, and, unfortunately, relative values are dominating. Relativism eventually builds a modern aspect of European humanism. Everything becomes relative, and values concerning man are relativized, man becomes the only value.

Orthodoxy proclaims restoration of Christ-God and true Man, as the solution to all anxieties of humanity. Actually Orthodoxy is the expression of a human and divine civilization, deaconry towards man, image of Christ. Educated by the divine-human example, man - and through him all the creation - is being transfigured from within. This is achieved through evangelical virtues, faith and love, prayer and meekness, love and humility. Who practices these virtues participates to the making of the Orthodox civilization.

Orthodoxy does not foster violence, because the Kingdom of God is not the product of a superficial or violent mechanical imposition, but it derives from the intimate, voluntary and personal acceptance of Christ, and from the continuous practice of the evangelical virtues, as the Lord himself said “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." (Luke 17,.20-21)

Can the Orthodox world, a small fraction of world population, influence human history? Yes indeed, it can! Yet, Orthodoxy is not subject to the anxiety of expanding, from a geographic and quantitative point of view, its scope of action. It is an internal strength, with external consequences. It relies on its spirituality, it is grounded on the Gospel and on the spiritual tradition of the Great Fathers of the undivided universal Church. “Obtain the internal peace and you will save thousands of people around you” – a Holy man from the Orthodox Church used to say. This spiritual renewal - the transfiguration and change of mankind - is Orthodoxy’s offer to the contemporary world.

We believe that this kind of meetings and discussions will contribute to enhance co-operation among peoples, and to bolster the growth of relationships of mutual understanding and friendship, which the world badly needs.

Coming to a close, we want to rejoice with the Community of Sant’Egidio, for this wonderful occasion it offered us through this constructive and fruitful meeting. We acknowledge the special fondness and high respect that Sant’Egidio feels towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that forged links of mutual collaboration, and inspired a common effort for the future of our planet.

Finally, we can never forget the great and wonderful city of Naples, that so warmly welcomed us. May God bless Naples for this effort, so that it may continue to yield beneficial consequences to its people.


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