Interreligious Meeting - Athens, August 2004 (English)
MESSAGE FROM HIS BEATITUDE PETROS VII, POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA AT THE START OF THE INTERRELIGIOUS CONFERENCE ENTITLED: “RELIGION – PEACE – OLYMPIC IDEAL”
(Amarousion Attica 10th August 2004)
Your Holiness Bartholomaios Ecumenical Patriarch and beloved Brother in Christ,
Your Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece,
Esteemed Mayor of Amarousion,
Your Excellency Mrs. President of the Hellenic Parliament,
Your Excellencies Messrs Representatives of the Hellenic Government,
Dear Representatives of the Religious Communities and remaining Delegates,
The organization of an interreligious conference in the municipality of Amarousion entitled “Religion – Peace – Olympic Ideal” is not only an important spiritual event on account of the inter-religious participation of representatives of the Orthodox Churches, other Christian doctrines and the great religions, especially the Monotheistic ones, but it especially contributes to the preparation for the upcoming start of the Olympic Games 2004 in Greece, where they have their historic beginning.
If the Olympic Ideal, as it was formed in the classical period of Ancient Greece, projected then the rivalry of the athletes in the stadiums for the consolidation of the value and meaning of the peaceful co-existence of the “city – states” from which the athletes, and from among them, the Olympian medalists of that time came, it is only through religious faith that peace is possible and the Olympic ideal able to be understood and to be viable in the contemporary world. The cultural heritage of the Olympic truce is configured in the 21st century, in such a way that the terrorism and conflicts that the world is concerned with may be confronted, that the good of peace, love, mutual understanding and the rest of the positive consequences thereof which come from religious faith, can progress.
In this sense, the organization of the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens, calls to vigilance all communities of the world, so that by the proposal and invitation of the religious communities, they can understand the benefits which peace gives to all, which is why the religious leaders shoulder the burden of their historic responsibility for the exploitation of the opportunity offered by the organization of the Olympic Games.
Truly, the sub-titles of the Interreligious Conference, while they represent the sustained possibility for manifold approximation of the Olympic ideal (theological, humanistic, communication), they do at the same time delete the breadth of the application of religious views to the contribution of the virtuous intent of peace. Therefore, the obvious quest remains the issue of peace, seeing that it is now evident that, through it, the Olympic ideal can extend to its proportionate dimensions by way of the contribution of the religious communities and their responsible leaders.
As religious belief develops the total inner quests of man, the world is served by Christian faith, which in the final analysis offers love, which is the experienced verifiable relation of people within the historic space and time of their existence. The undertaking of this particular initiative by the Church comes as a continuer of other corresponding meetings through which the quintessence of her mission in the world is expressed in the same way that it is expressed in the words of her founder Jesus Christ, “Peace be to you”.
From the Great City of Alexandria, in congratulating the organizers of this Interreligious Conference and wishing total success and with true interest expecting its conclusions and deductions, I embrace with much love all who are participating.
+ PETROS VII
POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA