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Letter to the Church of Cyprus

Letter to H.B. Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II Church of Cyprus

21 March 2013


Your Beatitude,

Grace and peace from God our Father and our common Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of peace!

The Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, would like to express its support to the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, initiated with the support of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus.

The WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) has a long history and tradition of involvement in the struggle for human rights and religious freedom, as well as strengthening and promoting inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, especially in conflict situations. WCC has been accompanying the people and churches of Cyprus for many years, in their struggle for a peaceful solution to the decades-long occupation that has divided the island.

We are very much aware of the destructive consequences that the political conflict in Cyprus has had on religion and on the right of people to fully exercise their right to religious freedom. Places of worship are desecrated, vandalized or simply neglected, historic cultural heritage sites are under threat of collapse, there is lack of freedom of movement for religious leaders to visit their places of worship, the right of access to places of worship is on many occasions denied or at best heavily controlled.

Against this backdrop, WCC would like to commend the efforts of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process facilitated and coordinated by former CCIA/WCC colleagues, as a hopeful sign for the future.  We believe that the inter-religious dialogue for human rights, peace and reconciliation is a historic peace- building effort in Cyprus as it has initiated and brought together the religious leaders of the island for an engaged and honest dialogue to contribute to the Cyprus Peace Process.

It is very promising to see that for the first time in the contemporary history of Cyprus in the last 50 years the heads of three main Christian communities of the island, led by your Beatitude, are meeting with the Mufti of Cyprus discussing peace, human rights and religious freedom in Cyprus, under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus.

We strongly support the Religious Track in its aim to build relationships, understanding and trust between the religious leaders and ultimately the respective faith communities including clergy. We also encourage the special focus given to the participation of youth and women in this process.

It is our strong belief that religious leaders have a responsibility but also a unique role to play in the peace process. Through this process religious leaders can actively be involved in the Cyprus Peace Process, by providing their valuable contributions on issues related to forgiveness and reconciliation, necessary preconditions for a viable peace in the island.

We would thus like to praise your leading role in these efforts and assure you of our long standing commitment and support to all initiatives of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation at the level of religious leaders and at the grassroots level, aiming to promote respect of religious freedom of all religious communities in the island.

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary

A similar letter was sent to His Excellency Mr Leonidas Pantelides, Ambassador Permanent Representative to the Mission of the Republic of Cyprus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland