CULTURE

Vartholomaios: Wishes and prayers for peace and avoidance of war

In March 19, the day that the first rockets fell on Baghdad at dawn, marking the beginning of the war on Iraq, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios issued a statement «for peace and to avoid war,» which not only expresses the views of the Holy Synod but is the voice of Vartholomaios, the leader of Orthodoxy. As humanity faces crucial days, the patriarch repeated once again his «wishes and prayers for peace and for war to be avoided, even at the very last minute.» And he made a plea to all the powers to make efforts in that direction «so that humanity will not mourn new hecatombs of victims and terrible holocausts.» The text continues: «The Ecumenical Patriarch reminds you that the basic condition for peace is respect for the sanctity, freedom and dignity of human beings, from which arise all the other conditions for peaceful coexistence on Earth, in the love of one god and father, who is not the god of war and battle but of tranquility and peace.» He ends with a wish we now know has not been heard, «that peace and prosperity will prevail on earth for the glory of God and welfare of humanity, whom God always loves.» It is of interest that US President George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein of Iraq have both asked for God’s help in winning the war which is currently raging.