The convocation of the international Interreligious Conference by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, and Mayor Panayotis Tzannikos of the Olympic Municipality of Amaroussion, under the auspices of his Excellency President Constantine Stephanopoulos of the Hellenic Republic, with the participation of eminent representatives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism (Amaroussion Congress Center, 10-11 August 2004) is one of the events taking place in Athens on the occasion of the opening of the Olympic Games. The Conference seeks to manifest religion's special mission in achieving peaceful coexistence amongst all human beings and all peoples of the world.
The Olympic ideal manifests the lofty spiritual and moral values of the great cultural heritage of Greek classical antiquity, which have influenced all major cultural traditions of the world to a greater or lesser extent, because they conceived of human beings in reference to the physical and metaphysical reality of the world. Thus, they interpreted the human position of supremacy without cutting human beings from the divine and from the worldly, and without identifying them with any specific religious tradition, philosophical theory, or system of ideology. Consequently they assumed an enduring significance for all humanity, wherefore, the heritage of the Olympic Games is an important aspect of this effulgence, which grows still brighter on account of the Games' homecoming.
We, the participants in the Interreligious Conference of Athens, as representatives of the major religions of the world, are fully aware of the profound relationship between the religions and the cultural traditions of all peoples, and of their special responsibility to advocate established moral values. Therefore, on this momentous occasion we jointly declare our hope that our message, as it reaches out far and wide from this Forum, will reverberate within the hearts of the adherents of all religions, and especially within their youth, and within those who have responsibility for leadership in our world.
1. It is our common understanding that the divine and the human converge in all religions upholding the sanctity of human life, and therefore, each in its own special way emphasizes the values of liberty, justice, brotherhood, solidarity, and love, for peaceful coexistence amongst all human beings and all peoples, particularly in our modern multicultural global community.
2. We acknowledge that religions have occasionally been abused in the past to serve national, political, religious and other expedients that are extraneous to their spiritual mission, and that, in their name, and in deviation from their teachings, crimes and atrocities have been perpetrated against innocent people. Therefore, we expressly and categorically repudiate all violence, terrorism or criminal action carried out ostensibly in the name of religion, thus reasserting our interreligious declaration that "all crimes perpetrated in the name of religion are crimes against religion itself".
3. We repudiate all forms of nationalist, racist, religious, social and other discrimination, by means of which morbid religious intolerance and fanaticism is harboured, together with the proclivity of seeking to find justification for bellicose conflicts and organized terrorism, to the obvious immense detriment of the peaceful coexistence of all human beings and all people. Therefore, we launch an appeal to the spiritual leaders of all religions to undertake the necessary work and to cooperate in achieving the defusing of these perilous confusions, in order thereby to achieve the truly credible furtherance of God's will that peace, social justice and respect for fundamental human rights will prevail.
4. We also launch an appeal to political and intellectual leaders of all peoples and international bodies to avail themselves of the opportunity to make use of the institutional role of religion in a positive manner, in order to achieve the peaceful resolution of local, regional and more general conflicts, and to realise an ambitious plan for Education towards Peace, in order to remedy the prepossessions and painful experiences of the past. We urge that the cooperation of all contemporary mass media be secured for this plan to achieve the widest possible outreach.
5. We reassert our unwavering resolve to continue with our constructive Interreligious Dialogues both to achieve a spirit of mutual understanding and sincere cooperation, and to promote such a spirit in the practical affairs of our contemporary multicultural society. Therefore, we give our full support to all interreligious and intercultural initiatives that are guided by such a spirit.
6. From this Forum so kindly given to us by the Olympic Municipality of Amaroussion we extend a special invitation to the youth of all religious and cultural traditions to join us in embracing the vision of peace through personally striving as "peacemakers", since this hallowed endeavour seeks to preserve the sanctity of life, to restore the integrity of divine creation, and to attain social justice in the relations of all human beings and all peoples, wherefore the crown of victory of such peacemakers is recognized by all of humanity as the loftiest of all crowns.
Amaroussion, Greece 11 August 2004