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Bishop John Speaks at UN General Assembly Debate

A High-Level Thematic Debate on “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism” was held on 21-22 April 2015 during the 69th UN General Assembly.  The event was initiated by the President of the 69th UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the assistance of  High representative of the UN Alliance of civilizations (UNAOC) Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser.

Representatives of 56 countries shared their views on overcoming extremism and maintaining stable peace. Members of the European Union, the UN Human Rights Council, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also stated their viewpoints on the problem. The position of Russia was represented by the report of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin.

The second day's gathering brought together leaders representing Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as well as spiritual leaders of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by the Administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in the USA, Bishop of Naro-Fominsk John. Bishop John presented the vision of the Russian Church on the resolving existing worldwide conflicts. He has drawn a particular attention to the issue of infringement of the rights of Christians in the Middle East, Africa and other regions around the world. Bishop John urged political leaders to pay special attention to the issues of Christianophobia and "be more responsible and committed in the resolution of the existing conflict to immediately stop the bloodshed and violence against innocent citizens".

Also the Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate spoke about the efforts of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and The Russian Orthodox Church to attract the attention of the international community to problems existing in the modern world, meeting with political, public and religious leaders, in the media, on different international platforms and forums. Bishop John brought to the attention that the Russian Orthodox Church has positive experience of an interreligious dialogue within The Interreligious Council of Russia, The Interreligious Council of The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the bilateral Russian-Iranian Commission for "Orthodox Christianity – Islam” dialogue.

 In conclusion Bishop John expressed confidence that the dialogue of religious leaders and political leaders, including at the UN, can effectively help to overcome many conflict situations.

 At the end of the event UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that religious leaders will continue to take an active part in contributing to conflict resolution and maintaining stable peace.


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Published with the blessing of His Grace Matthew
Bishop of Sourozh
Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA & Canada

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