His All-Holiness Bartholomew I. © WCC

His All-Holiness Bartholomew I. © WCC

Protecting human freedom and dignity is a vital contribution to peace-building by religious communities, said Ecumenical Patriarch His All-Holiness Bartholomew I as he spoke at the Al-Azhar International Peace Conference on 27-28 April in Egypt.

“During the last two decades, humanity has experienced continuous terrorist attacks, which are the cause of death and hurt of thousands of people, and which are becoming the greatest threat and source of fear for contemporary societies,” he said. “Since then, religions have been often suspected or openly accused for inspiring terrorism and violence.”

Religion is a vital factor in the peace process, Bartholomew said. “Religion can, of course, divide by causing intolerance and violence. But this is rather its failure, not its essence, which is the protection of human dignity.”

Interreligious dialogue recognizes the differences of religious traditions and promotes peaceful coexistence and cooperation between people and cultures, he continued. “Interreligious dialogue does not mean to deny one’s own faith, but rather to change one’s mind or attitude towards the other.”

Religions and Peace - speech by The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I (also available in Arabic)

Watch video streaming from the International Peace Conference

Full speech by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on 27 April (also available in French, German, Spanish and Arabic)

Day of Muslim-Christian dialogue unfolds in Egypt (WCC press release of 26 April 2017)

WCC member churches in Egypt

Ecumenical Patriarchate