The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America expresses its deep sympathies as we mourn the loss of innocent lives and pray for the speedy recovery of those wounded in the recent attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remembering the Message from our Assembly meeting just last month, we reiterate our “denunciation of all violence, whether caused by senseless acts related to weapons and shootings or instigated by abhorrent acts of discrimination and prejudice.”
Indeed the heinous and murderous act of terror on October 27, 2018, sprang from a place of deep prejudice against people and religion. We unequivocally condemn this rampage as a sin against the local community, religion, and humanity.
We call upon all Christians and all people of good will to stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and the survivors. We pray fervently to the Almighty God for the spiritual healing of the entire congregation and community, especially those in Pittsburgh. In this era of frequent and unprecedented attacks on basic freedoms, especially freedom of religion, it is through love and harmony that hearts might be softened and transformed. For only through love will evil be neutralized, violence cease, and peace prevail.
“United Against Hate”: Archbishop Demetrios Joins Religious Leaders in Solidarity with Pittsburgh
NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, joined other distinguished religious leaders today in the Park East Synagogue, in a memorial event titled “United Against Hate,” an inter-religious gathering of Leaders in solidarity with Pittsburgh and the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
“This is a gathering of brothers and sisters coming and sitting together in peace,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier who led the event and is the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and Senior Rabbi of the Park East Synagogue, cosponsors of the event.
Michael Peterson, on behalf of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation presented the program as a children’s choir sang “A prayer for Peace.” Rabbi Schneier spoke of the present very painful time in our country and of the holocaust, of which he is a survivor. He memorialized the victims of Pittsburgh and thanked all the religious and political leaders present for their solidarity, saying “you stand with us and we stand with you.”
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, who spoke next, mentioned the growing number of incidents of anti-Semitism and the alarming signs of neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism. Following the Secretary General and offering messages of condolence, solidarity and peace were Archbishop Auza, the Papal Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Vatican to the United Nations; His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York; the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, Dean of the Cathedral of St John the Divine; the Very Rev. Father Daniel Findikyan, Diocesan Primate for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; Sheikh Musa Drammeh, Chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center of North America; and the Consul General of Israel in New York, Ambassador Dani Dayan.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America said that “no proper words can express my sorrow and that of the Greek Orthodox Community in the United States,” and reiterated the unequivocal condemnation for the acts of hate, evil and violence. The Archbishop talked about his personal connection with the “Tree of Life Synagogue” back in 1965, and then added that the Pittsburgh massacre brought back very bitter memories from the Summer of 1944, when during the Nazi occupation of Thessaloniki, Greece; close to 60,000 Jews, friends, classmates and neighbors were forcefully loaded to trains for a horrendous trip which ended in the crematoria of Auschwitz.
Furthermore, Archbishop Demetrios, in his personal meeting with Rabbi Schneier, conveyed the condolences and the very sincere feelings of sympathy of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is a true universal apostle of reconciliation and peace, and has visited the Park East Synagogue in his 2009 US Patriarchal Trip.
Also present at the gathering were other religious leaders, political and diplomatic dignitaries, police and community representatives.