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Home arrow In Brief arrow Cuba call by Pope Francis + Patriarch Kirill on Christians' Unity for Humanity's Future

Cuba call by Pope Francis + Patriarch Kirill on Christians' Unity for Humanity's Future

Written by ACM
Friday, 12 February 2016
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*Angelo Marcopolo/- In an Unprecedented in History Summit,  "at the Crossroads of North and South, East and West", i.e. "in Cuba"' Island,  at the eve and near USA's forthcoming Presidential Elections, full of various Topical BioEthic and Religion-relevant Political issues, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, "meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World” of Rome and Moscow, during "2 Hours", launched a Vibrant Joint Call mainly for "the Future of Humanity", "much of" which "will depend on" All Christians"', Catholics' and Orthodox'+, "Capacity to give Shared witness to the Spirit of Truth, in these Difficult Times", "United not only by the Shared Tradition of the Church of the 1st Millennium, but also by the Mission to preach the Gospel of Christ ....Today", "Responding Together to the Challenges of the Contemporary World", as they noted.

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    - In particular,"the Manipulation of Human Life represents an Attack on the Foundations of Human existence, Created in the Image of God", they stressed in Conclusion. Therefore, "Concerned about the development of BioMedical Reproduction Technology", they "Believe that it is (their) Duty, to recall the Immutability of Christian moral Principles, based on Respect for the Dignity of the Individual (Person), called into being, According to the Creator’s Plan".


    => That's one more reason for which "Orthodox and Catholics share the Same Conception of the (Natural) Family", "Based on Marriage, ....between a Man and a Woman", "Consecrated in the Biblical Tradition, of Paternity and Maternity", "...as the Distinct vocation of Man and Woman in marriage is (currently) being Banished from the public Conscience", by "Other forms of Cohabitation (which) have been Placed on the Same Level": s(A Fact) that "We Regret", as they Denounced on the Controversial and UnPopular Same Sex Marriage in some Countries, including even Children submitted to Homosexuals' and/or Technocrats' Power for Artificial ReProduction of Human Beings, obviously Dangerous for all Humankind.


    - Because "Family is the Natural Centre of Human Life and Society", and, "Concerned about the Crisis in the Family in many Countries" Today, Christians "witness that it is a Path of Holiness, testifying to the Faithfulness of the Spouses,....their Openness to the Procreation and rearing of their Children", as well as to "Solidarity between the Generations and to Respect for the Weakest", as they reminded.


    => In this regard, f.ex., "the Emergence of so-called Euthanasia, leads Elderly People, and the Disabled begin to Feel that they are a Burden on their Families, and on Society in general". So that "Millions are Denied the very Right to be Born into the world. The Blood of the Unborn (Child) Cries out to God", (f.ex. in the recent Scandal of "Controlled Parenhood"'s acknowledgment that it Sells Human Parts of Unborn Children to Researchers throughout the USA, etc).

     - As a matter of a Wider and basic Principle, "Our Christian Conscience and our pastoral Responsibility compel us Not to remain Passive in the face of Challenges requiring a shared response",n because, Today, ""Human Civilization has entered into a period of Epochal Change", they stressed from the outset. Therefore, "Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give Unanimously Witness in those Spheres in which this is possible and Necessary", and for which "we experience, with a particular sense of Urgency the need for the Shared Labour", in order "to Combine our efforts" in "Responding Together to the Challenges of the Contemporary World".


- Based on the Historic Fact that "we Share the Same spiritual Tradition of the 1st Millennium of Christianity", which includes as "Witnesses" "the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints we venerate", "among" which "are innumerable Martyrs (from the Era of the First Christians, who had notoriously Faced heavy Persecution and even Killings, obliging them to Hide in Catacombes, but had a Strong Spiritual Force, Energy and Enthousiasm, United Together), who have given witness to their Faithfulness to Christ and have become the “Seed of Christians”, stimulating their original spread all over the World.


- That's why, "meeting Far from the longstanding Disputes of the “Old World” (Europe), and "Mindful of the persistence of many Obstacles", but "Determined to undertake all that is necessary to Overcome the historical Divergences we have inherited" from a part of the 2nd Millenium, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill expressed their , "Hope" that this "may contribute to the re–establishment of this Unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed", and "inspire Christians throughout the World" a "Renewed Fervour for the Full Unity", n a world which yearns not only for our Words but also for Tangible Gestures", as they pointed out.

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    Europe, (but also the USA, etc) is at the Heart of the matter, in real practice :

- "We Call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to Unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its Soul, shaped by 2 Thousand Years of Christian tradition", their Joint Declaration stresses.


    - Because, "while remaining Open to the Contribution of Other Religions to our civilization, it is our Conviction that Europe must remain Faithful to its Christian Roots", they underlined, touching upon a quite Popular issue nowadays.

    - In this regard, even if it's a Fact that "the process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was Welcomed by many with Hope, as a guarantee of Peace and Security", "Nonetheless, we invite Vigilance against an integration that is Devoid of respect for Religious Identities", as they denounced, critizing certain recent abuses by some.


    - Also because, despite a "current unprecedented Renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other Countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes", where, f.ex., "Thousands of New Churches have been Built over the last Quarter of a Century, as well as hundreds of Monasteries and Theological institutions", while "Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of Charitable aid and Social development, providing diversified forms of Assistance to the Needy", "Orthodox and Catholics often work(ing) side by side",

   + nevertheless, "at the same time, we are Concerned about the situation in many Countries" (i.e. including in the USA, where even a Woman Democratical Elected as Senior Official, was Jailed for refusing to "Marry" personaly Homosexuals, while in France many Mayors were Threatened by Heavy Fines and/or Jail for a similar Pretext, etc), "in which Christians are increasingly confronted by Restrictions to religious Freedom, to the Right to witness to one’s Convictions and to live in Conformity with them".


    - "In particular", "Grave Threat(s) to Religious Freedom" are observed during "the Transformation of some Countries into Secularized societies, Estranged from all reference to God". Because "there is a current Curtailment of the Rights of Christians, if not their outright Discrimination, when certain Political forces, guided by an often very Aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the Margins of public life", they jointly Denounced.


    + At the same time, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill "Deplore(d) the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many Victims, inflicted innumerable Wounds on peaceful Inhabitants" (mostly Civilian People), "and thrown society into a deep Economic and Humanitarian Crisis"


    => Therefore,. they "Invite(d) our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social Harmony, to Refrain from taking part in the Confrontation, and to Not support any further development of the Conflict". On the contrary, "All the parts involved in the conflict" are "Invited... to Prudence, to social Solidarity and to action aimed at constructing Peace".


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    - But, in our troubled times, a Priority was given, in fact, on the current need to "Firstly turn to those Regions of the World where Christians are Victims of Persecution", (as also a recent EU Parliament's Resolution, adopted in Strasbourg, has strongly denounced, Comp., f.ex. : ....) :


    - In particular, "In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely Exterminated. Their Churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects Profaned, their Monuments Destroyed. It is with Pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive Exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was First Disseminated and in which they have Lived since the time of the Apostles, (i.e. 1st Century AC), Together with Other Religious communities"


    - "Thousands of Victims have already been claimed in the Violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other Millions withOut a Home or means of Sustenance". Thus, "We Bow before the Martyrdom of those who, at the Cost of their own Lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring Death to the Denial of Christ. ...these Martyrs of Our Times, who belong to various Churches but who are United by their Shared Suffering, are a Pledge of the Unity of Christians" Today.


    + At the same time, "in raising our voice in defence of Persecuted Christians, we (also) wish to express our Compassion for the Suffering experienced by the faithful of Other Religious traditions, who have also become Victims of Civil War, Chaos and Terrorist Violence", they added.

    => In consequence, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill "Call(ed) upon the International Community to act Urgently in order to Prevent the further Expulsion of Christians from the Middle East", and "Urge(d)" "to seek an End to the Violence and Terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through Dialogue to a swift return to Civil Peace".


    In particular, "Large–scale Humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many Refugees seeking safety in Neighbouring lands", (i.e. Lebanon, Jordany, Turkey, and even ...Armenia, where many Christians have reportedly seeked Refuge in order to avoid Turkey's Camps, denounced as Dominated by an Oppressive "Islamist" Leadership, Similar to several Violent Aggressions that Christian Refugees faced even in some Dormitories in Europe, often controlled by Private "Security" Companies entrusted to Turkish-origin guards, as the German Press denounced). + On this occasion, they also "Call(ed) upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt Liberation", (speaking of an important City, near the Turkish Borders, which is currently close to return back to the Syrian Government's control, supported by Russian Aviation, after Years of occupation by various Armed Gangs and Terrorist Groups).

    ++ In "addressing, in a fervent appeal, All the Parts that may be involved in the Conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the Negotiating table", Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill also "ask(ed) for the return of Peace in the Middle East, ... so that Fraternal Co–Existence among the Various populations, Churches and Religions may be strengthened, enabling Refugees to return to their Homes, Wounds to be Healed, and the Souls of the slain innocent to Rest in peace"

    >>> +++ But, in parallel, "at the same time, the International Community must undertake every possible effort to End Terrorism", (as, f.ex., that of ISIL's atrocious Killers and BeHeaders even of Innocent Civilian People) "through common, Joint and Coordinated Action", the Ecumenical Cuba Declaration stresses timely, while also "call(ing) on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action".


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    ++++ Moreover, Advancing well Beyond all that, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill also Feel the Need, Today, to "Exhort all Christians and All Believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world, to Protect His creation from Destruction, and Not permit a New (3rd) World War", as they Warn.


    => For that purose, "in order to ensure a solid and enduring Peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to ReDiscover the Common Values Uniting us", they pointed out.


    - Inter alia, "InterReligious Dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times", because "Differences in the understanding of Religious truths must Not Impede people of Different Faiths to live in Peace and Harmony", specialy "in our current context", whenb "religious Leaders have the particular Responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is Respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions".


    => On the contrary, "Attempts to justify Criminal acts with Religious Slogans are altogether Unacceptable", also because "No Crime may be committed in God’s Name".

    However, all this cannot make anyone disregard "the Growing InEquality in the distribution of material Goods", since many People are "facing Serious Difficulties, who live in extreme need and Poverty, while", on the ontrary,"the Material Wealth of Humanity Increases", augmenting also "the feeling of the InJustice of the International order", while "Christian churches are called to Defend the demands of Justice, ...and an authentic Solidarity towards All those who Suffer", Cuba Ecumenical Declaration stresses.

    - Last, but not least, they also "address Young Christians" : - "Do Not be Afraid of going Against the current, Defending God’s Truth, to which contemporary Secular Norms are often Far from conforming", Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Encourage them, while also stressing that Young People have "the Task of ...Using all the Abilities God has given you, to confirm Christ’s Truth in the world, incarnating in your own Lives the evangelical commandments of the Love of God and of one’s Neighbour"


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    By a Coincidence, this Historic Top Move, was preceded also by a Humble Collective Meeting around Strasbourg Cathedral's community on Ecumenism's perspectives Today, where "EuroFora"s co-Founder mainly supported that, a much needed ReVitalisation could be inspired from the First Christians, who were  United Together and notoriouly Active and Enthousiast, despite Persecutions, while Today, a series of Challenges of Crucial Importane even for all Humankind, incite all like-minded Christians to Unite Together for Urgently needed Joint, Adequate and Efficient Responses, (from BioEthics up to Europe's identity and roots, as well as in order to Face Deadly and particularly InHuman Terrorism, etc.), a good part of which was also evoked by various other fellow participants, in several Converging ways.


    It was a great, and good Surprise, to find, soon afterwards, that most Key parts of those observations appeared Confirmed as more or less Just, by the present, Historic Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill at Cuba...



(../..)

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
-------------------------
    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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