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    Orthodox leaders pledge greater Church unity in Istanbul meeting

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    12.10.2008 - 17:10 | Son Güncelleme:

    The leaders of world's 250 million Orthodox Christians pledged Sunday to work for greater church unity by overcoming internal differences through a spirit of love and peace.

    Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew had invited leaders to come to Istanbul to boost unity among a faith community riven by conflicting loyalties and power struggles.

    Meeting in Istanbul to mark the second millennium since the birth of St. Paul, clerics representing 14 Orthodox churches voiced concern that the global financial crisis was widening a gap between the rich and poor.

    Ending a three-day summit, the Orthodox leaders also declared their desire to advance dialogue with other Christian churches as well as the interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims.

    A declaration issued after Sunday prayers said the Orthodox churches had reaffirmed their "unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church ... by settling any problems that arise from time to time in relations among us with a spirit of love and peace."

    The meeting was held at a time when the Russian and Ukrainian churches are locked in a dispute over the Ukrainians desire for independence from the powerful patriarchate in Moscow and shake off centuries of Russian influence. The Ukrainian church now answers to the patriarchate in Moscow.

    The declaration by the senior clerics - including Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II - spoke of the need of "surrendering ... nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past."

    "For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world," the clerics said.
     
    Sunday’s statement also denounced the global financial crisis as a result of "manic profiteering and corrupt financial activity" and called for an economy combining "efficacy with justice and social solidarity."

    It urged Orthodox churches to focus on efforts to protect the environment and highlighted plans to form a committee to study issues of bioethics, "on which the world awaits the position of Orthodoxy."

    Besides Bartholomew I and Alexy II, the statement was signed by patriarchs and other senior clergymen based in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Syria and Turkey.

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