Source: The National Herald
PARIS, FRANCE – Metropolitan Emmanuel of France in a telephone interview with The National Herald spoke extensively about the November 14 terrorist attacks in Paris and said that to the best of his knowledge there were no Greek-Orthodox among the victims. He is constant communication with the French authorities, especially with the Ministry of Interior.
Metropolitan Emmanuel is among the most prominent Orthodox hierarchs and presides over many interreligious dialogues and conferences aiming to the better understanding among the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He said the “terrorist attacks took place in areas of Paris distant from the Metropolis. We condemn the horrific terrorist attacks, which were actually against democracy, a government, and certainly against all civilized society. We lived in similar situations last January with the attack against the newspaper (Charlie Hebdo). The recent attack was organized by foreign hands that belong to the so-called Islamic State, which is not a state, not has it any relations with Islam.
He said that “I spoke with the ambassador of Greece and also with other fellow Orthodox Bishops, and as far as we know there are no Orthodox victims among the dead or the injured. We pray for the innocent victims and their families. The site of the attack is usually full of young people going to restaurants and bars.
“The country is in a state of emergency; a three-day mourning period has been proclaimed. The boundaries are closed and the gatherings in public places are prohibited.”
In terms of the churches and services, Emmanuel said: “the churches will be open, of course, and we are going to offer prayers for the innocent victims and for peace and healing.”
His Eminence thanked President Obama for America’s support. “We have stated since 1992 at the Vienna Conference that any attack in the name of religion is essentially an attack against religion itself. At this time we should keep our faith and optimism that the evil will stop here, and we should no attempt to demonize any religion. I believe that there is space and possibility for cooperation with the other two monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam. We can sit down at the same table and dialogue.”
Regarding such Interreligious Dialogues, Emmanuel said “there is good will. The issue is that we should know that those who participate in these dialogues are people with open minds and willingness to talk, accepting each other as we are.. In order to come and talk should accept the other as he is. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has led on this issue since the 1970s, trying to find ways of cooperation and peaceful coexistence between Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and all the rest.”
Emmanuel also said that “the Middle East is a place where Christians play a very essential role, and we cannot forget that we are a part of that territory. It should not be viewed that the Middle East is a place for just one specific religious community. We have rights as Christians, and most especially we the Orthodox want to keep the ability to coexist and in this respect; we should encourage the efforts of dialogues. We cannot do miracles overnight, but we can contribute to the process of peace and reconciliation.”
We reminded His Eminence of Samuel Huntington’s article more than a decade ago, “Clash of Civilizations,” asking whether now there is a “clash of religions.” He said “in no way do we accept that there is clash of religions. Religions cannot promote violence. The problem is when violent acts use religion as their base. Religion itself cannot be a vehicle of hatred and violence and terror. It is not religion when it wants the catastrophe of the other person or a group of persons or the society.”
Metropolitan Emmanuel said that “as (French President Francois) Hollande emphasized, this attack came from the Islamic State, the enemy the civilized world has to face in Europe and in the United States.”
Emmanuel also noted the propaganda ISIS perpetuates. He said that “they spend millions of euro to enlist young children. We are wondering who these children are? Are they our neighbors? Are they really the children next door?”