His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the important role that religions can play in preserving world peace and promoting respect for human dignity, in a spirit of solidarity and safeguarding of fundamental freedoms, in the context of the interfaith meeting organized on 4 February 2020 by the “International Commission on Human Brotherhood” in Abu Dhabi, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the signing, in the same city, of the “Declaration of Human Brotherhood” by the Pope of Rome and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.
In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch noted among other things:
“In our times, the credibility of religions depends largely on their commitment to peace through interreligious dialogue and common witness in view of the great contemporary challenges. Genuine religion cannot betray earth for the sake of heaven, the present for the sake of future. It does not absolve humans from their responsibility in the world and for the world. On the contrary, for true believers, faith is to be a presupposition to approach rightly the earthly reality and its contradictions; to resist injustice and all tendencies that undermine social cohesion; to exercise critique on the declaration of economic indicators and profit as the absolute criteria of economic activity; and to reject the subordination of man to the tyranny of needs and the transformation even of children into unsatisfiable consumerists.
Obviously, it is impossible for the current crisis to be exclusively addressed on the basis of bureaucratic, technocratic and economically centred principles. The solution must be based on the protection of human dignity and social justice. Religions are able to promote the respect of human dignity, by implementing and cultivating a spirit of solidarity, and by supporting relevant initiatives in the political and social sphere that have the safeguarding of the fundamental freedoms as their goal. Faith inspires and strengthens the struggle for a just and peaceful society and even provides support when it appears to be at an impasse. Without a doubt, religions cannot replace politics and they do not aim to do so. However, they can inspire civil and political activity, raising awareness for the advancement of social cohesion, for the protection of the creation, for sustainable development and for the establishment of a culture of fraternity. They can persistently propose solutions that reject war and violence, and instead strive for tolerance and solidarity. Peace is always a duty; it requires vision, commitment, struggle, and patience. Peace does not automatically result from economic and cultural development, from high living standards and from the progress of science and technology.“
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also pointed out that people today are expecting a common witness from the people of faith, and therefore, that it is the duty of all to promote interfaith dialogue as communication frees religions from introspection. He added that if religions act as forces of openness, then this can serve as a positive challenge for secular institutions and humanitarian movements to discover in Faith a valuable ally in promoting the sacred cause of freedom, equality and brotherhood.
During his visit to the United Arab Emirates, the Ecumenical Patriarch met with Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, as well as Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign and International Cooperation. He also visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, where he was informed about its history, as well as the local branch of the Louvre Museum. The Ecumenical Patriarch was accompanied by the Metropolitans Emmanuel of France and Ignatius of Dimitrias and Almyros.
On the same day in the morning, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his entourage met with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was coincidentally on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. During their meeting, the Prime Minister of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarch discussed issues of mutual interest in the presence of Ministers of his Government, the Ambassador of Greece to the Emirates Dionysios Zoi and Mrs. Mareva Mitsotakis.