Orthodox thinking on religious pluralism is becoming an increasingly imperative topic on the theological agenda. A doctrine which denies the possibility of salvation to the bulk of humanity violates several fundamental principles of Orthodox theology. From this perception, Dr Paul Ladouceur (Adjunct Professor, Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College University of Toronto – “Orthodoxy and the Non‐Orthodox”, Papers on Ecumenicity and Ecumenoclasm in view of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, June 2016) postulates that “in the first place, it denies that God is a good and loving God who seeks the salvation of all humans, but rather turns God into a cruel divine caricature who creates humans whose only final destiny can be eternal torment. This is not at all the Orthodox notion of God as the Lover of Humankind (philanthropos), the Merciful One (eleémón), the Most Compassionate (panoiktírmōn).”
Patriarch Bartholomew’s roles as the primary spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian world and a transnational figure of global significance continue to become more vital each day; he co-sponsored the Peace and Tolerance Conference in Istanbul (1994) bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well as organized several world conferences on ecological themes for what has been named the “Green Patriarch”. Anna Maria Aagaard, a Lutheran theologian from Denmark, analyzes the Patriarch’s understanding of “European idea” and state-church relations: “The Patriarch values religious freedom and pluralism as they reflect the mystery of God’s freedom and God’s respect for human freedom… The Patriarch’s views on secularism and European Enlightenment are far more reflective than the one-sided negative assessments made by some church hierarchs. The Patriarch attributes Europe’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and religious freedom both to the idea of Christian Europe and to the process of secularization that over time emancipated political, social, and cultural spheres from ideological dominance and religious fanaticism.”
In His address at the Concordia Europe Summit “Migration Challenging European Identity” (June 7, 2017, Athens, Greece) His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed: “The core of human rights is the protection of human dignity. This is the basis not only of political and individual rights, but also of social, cultural and the “third generation” of human rights, that is, community-rights. These are the cornerstones of European identity. Let us transform the “threat of otherness” into the opportunity to foster a culture of solidarity and inclusion.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, delivered a public address at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva as part of his official visit to Switzerland on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch and the 50th anniversary of the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, stressing out that “We must all work together for the promotion of a culture of solidarity, respect for others, and dialogue..” he said and reiterated his invitation to all member churches “to work together in a common quest, renewing the true vocation of the church through collaborative engagement with the most important issues of justice and peace, healing a world filled with conflict, injustice and pain.”
The Role of Religion in Society is among the first issues to be addressed not only by the leadership of the world religions but also to be implemented in the daily life by the grassroots religious communities through a sort of religious-style crisis management to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. The global United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org) was born on June 26, 2000, by people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world. We implement our mission through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of our member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights.
Аs a community of great diversity, including diversity of perspectives on a wide range of global, regional and local issues, we believe that this diversity of perspectives has the potential to deepen our understanding and lead to shared insight and wisdom. URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles are the foundational tenets of our Charter and our global network, amongst all:
– respect the uniqueness of each tradition, and differences of practice or belief.
– unite to build cultures of peace and justice.
– unite to build safe places for conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation.
– unite to support freedom of religion and spiritual expression, and the rights of all individuals and peoples as set forth in international law.
– encourage our members to deepen their roots in their own tradition
– seek and welcome the gift of diversity and model practices that do not discriminate.
– practice healing and reconciliation to resolve conflict without resorting to violence.
– seek and offer cooperation with other interfaith efforts.