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12 10 2007 - Information Services October 11, 2007 MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services October 11, 2007 MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II SUPREME PATRIARCH AND CATHOLICOS OF ALL ARMENIANS AT THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL Washington, District of Columbia – 11 October 2007 It is our pleasure to be here today in Washington, standing before this monument which honors Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, founding father, author of the Declaration of Independence and architect of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. We are happy to be joined today by our ecumenical and interfaith brothers, representing different Christian Churches and various faiths, and extend to you all our greetings and best wishes from the center of our faith – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. During our pontifical visit to the Armenian Church Diocese of the United States, we wished to visit the capital city of this blessed land, to meet and pray with members of our community, and to express our appreciation to the caring American people and authorities, because it was the “land of the free and the home of the brave” that opened its hospitable doors and embraced our sons and daughters fleeing the first genocide of the 20th century, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire on the Armenian population living on the territory of their historical homeland. America gave the children of our nation shelter, refuge, opportunity and freedom to re-find its Christ-bestowed strength, stand upright once again, create and contribute greatly to the building of the civic, social, economic, cultural and political life in their adopted new world. We thank the United States for also giving to my people all opportunity and freedom to openly practice their ancient Christian faith, to build churches and schools, to create and make abundant their national and spiritual life, and to avail themselves of all rights and liberties afforded to all religious and ethnic minorities in America. As the head of the Armenian Church and representative of my Armenian sons and daughters, we are proud that our people have lived peacefully and fruitfully in the midst of societies and countries whose predominant faith was not our own. Where we have had that freedom, as we do in the United States, we have flourished. When that freedom has been curtailed, stifled and oppressed, we have suffered. In our daily lives, we are graced by the Almighty to witness the fruits of religious freedom. In the past few years alone, we have been blessed to receive in Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Chief Mufti of Syria and members of the Buddhist and Hindu faiths. Last month we had the pleasure to host the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, and offer our combined prayers to heaven, asking for peace and reconciliation for all peoples. Perhaps the most memorable ecumenical events in the recent history of our Church were the pilgrimages of Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Russian Orthodox Patriarch His Holiness Alexei II and Roman Catholic Pope His Holiness John Paul II to Armenia in 2001, when our Church and people were celebrating 1700 years of official Christianity in Armenia. Today, in our small country of Armenia, where more than 95% of our citizens are members of our Mother Church, more than 60 different religious organizations are legally registered and operate free of any restriction to practice their faith. We have sought to ensure the rights of all of these religious organizations and respect their beliefs. In 1960, President John Kennedy said, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs; rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” This is the model which we hope all countries in our region of the world will adopt. Praise and glory to God, that we have insured religious freedom in our country without sacrificing the ancient Christian heritage and dignity of our Holy Armenian Apostolic Church, for we must be conscious that in granting religious freedom to all and to the new, we do not reduce the rights of the one or the established. Religious freedom must not become the great leveler of religious relativity, but must be a resounding affirmation of the free pursuit of faith. Lasting regional stability, elimination of conflict, poverty, crime and tragedy can only be established when we learn to respect each other enough to allow for the diversity of ideas and beliefs, and when faith is allowed to flourish for the good of mankind and in service to the peaceful co-existence of all nations. Thomas Jefferson said, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past”. Let us pray for a world filled with both dreams AND history: Dreams to see mankind prosperous, free and secure; combined with the history of Christian morality and national values leading humanity to greater and greater heights. May the grace, love and peace of our Lord be with us and with all. Amen.


Il sito è curato dall'Arch. Vahé Vartanian e dal Dott. Enzo Mainardi;
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