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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Decries Violence in Advance of Meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2014

NEW YORK – The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness Bartholomew of Constantinople, has issued a statement decrying the violence against women in Northern Africa. The full text is as follows:

We are horrified that, in the early twenty-first century, our world still experiences such horrific and disgraceful acts of religious violence. As we have repeatedly emphasized, every form of violence in the name of religion is violence against religion itself.

What is happening in Nigeria and Sudan is a dual act of wrongdoing: first and foremost, it is a disgrace against humanity, which we believe and proclaim is created in the image and likeness of God; and second, it is a defamation of the God, whom the great religions of the world worship as divine creator of all life.

In Northern Africa, both believers of Islam and Christianity are obliged to promote a God of love and compassion. And the political authorities are responsible for protecting their citizens, especially the more vulnerable members of their societies. Such acts of violence are unacceptable from the perspective of religion and morality, as well as by standards of international human rights.

(http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/statement-religious-violence-north-africa).

Specifically, the Ecumenical Patriarch addresses the recent plight of Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school to be sold into marriage and forced to renounce their Christian faith, as well as a pregnant Sudanese woman facing execution based on Islamic apostasy laws simply for being a Christian.

The statement comes days before His All-Holiness will meet with Pope Francis in Jerusalem to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 meeting of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. The two world religious leaders will discuss the precarious situation of Christians around the globe, including the diminishing Christian population throughout the Middle East.

The meetings between the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch will take place over a two-day period, May 25 and 26 in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.

His All-Holiness Bartholomew is Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch. He is the 269th successor of the 2,000-year old local Christian Church founded by St. Andrew. The Ecumenical Patriarch is a living witness to the world of Orthodoxy's painful and redemptive struggle for religious freedom and to the innate dignity of humankind. As a citizen of Turkey, His All-Holiness' personal experience provides him a unique perspective on the continuing dialogue among the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds. He is known throughout the world as the "Green Patriarch" for his groundbreaking environmental initiatives and ecological theology. For his inspiring efforts on behalf of religious freedom and human rights, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was heralded as a Bridge Builder and Peacemaker and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S. Congress in 1997.

Additional information about the visit of may be found online at: http://www.apostolicpilgrimage.org

The Statement of His Holiness Pope Francis on the Meeting may be found at:

http://www.news.va/en/news/angelus-5-january-2014

The Statement of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew may be found at:

http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/jerusalem-2014-statement

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