STATEMENT OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF CYPRUS CONDEMNING ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

8 March 2017

We, the religious leaders of the five main faith communities of Cyprus, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic, who form the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, are deeply concerned that violence against women and girls continues to be one of the most pervasive manifestations of discrimination against women in Cyprus. This includes economic, psychological, sexual, and physical violence.

We acknowledge with pain that violence against women affects women and girls of all ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds. Violence undermines women’s dignity and integrity and has devastating effects on the lives of women and girls with severe consequences on families, communities and societies. As long as it persists, the world cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.

We reiterate our common belief that men and women have equal value in the eyes of God. Christianity and Islam condemn violence against women. Violence against women and girls, in whatever form, is a contradiction to the will of God and unacceptable in His eyes.

We strongly believe that religious leaders don’t only have a responsibility but also a religious duty to stand united against violence in all its forms everywhere, including violence against women and girls.

Therefore, as Christian and Muslim religious leaders of Cyprus:

We strongly condemn violence committed against women and girls and express our commitment to share this message with our respective faith communities and society as a whole.

We categorically reject the misuse of religion to vindicate any form of violence against women and girls and express our united voice against all forms of violence against them.

We pray for healing and wholeness and reach out to all women and girls that have fallen victim to violence.

We are committed to ensure that violence against women and girls are recognised, condemned and that there are legal frameworks and institutions capable of dealing with it. In this regard, we are committed to work together with state and civil society partners to end violence against women and girls in Cyprus.

Signatories:

H.B. Chrysostomos II

Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus

H.E. Dr. Talip Atalay

Mufti of Cyprus

H.E. Yousef Soueif

Archbishop of the Maronite Church of Cyprus

H.E. Khoren Toghramadjian

Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus

Rev. Father Jerzy Kraj

Latin Patriarchal Vicar and Representative of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cyprus

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF CYPRUS, AGAINST ALL FORMS OF ATTACKS, TERRORISM AND VIOLENCE

24 November 2015

We, the religious leaders of the five main faith communities of Cyprus, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic, who form the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, committed and working all together for human rights and peace in Cyprus, express our united voice against all forms of attacks, terrorism and violence in our country, region and the world at large.

United in one voice we reiterate that as religious leaders we pray first and foremost for all victims everywhere, their families and friends and with all those who are mourning all over the world.

We are horrified to see the increased appalling violence against innocent civilians in our region and beyond, with victims including children, women and the elderly. Growing numbers of refugees from our region are risking their lives daily, facing hostilities, rejection and death. We are with them in deep compassion and prayer.

We categorically condemn all forms of violence against innocent civilians. No war, no act of terrorism, atrocities or violent attacks against innocent people can be justified in the name of God Almighty or any religion or humanity. War begets war. Violence begets violence. All people of good will must stand together to respect, support and care for one another. Violence in the name of God is violence against religion itself.

As religious leaders we have a responsibility not only to speak out and work united against all forms of violence but also understand and address diligently the root causes that lead to such conflicts, violence and wars and to always promote and protect peace.

Our sacred texts call us not only to combat injustice but also to uplift the poorest in our midst. Where inequality is entrenched, instability and conflict are far more likely to erupt. Inspired by our shared values we embrace the moral imperative to reach out to the most vulnerable among us, uphold human dignity and advocate for human rights.

The dialogue we have experienced together has strengthened our conviction that there is no future without tolerance, mutual understanding, respect and peaceful co- existence.

With our different identities we have to be together as one human family, as people of every faith or none. We have a responsibility to preach, act and show that our shared respect for human life and dignity is stronger than evil acts of terror, and perversion of religion.

Together we reaffirm the need to all uphold democratic, intercultural and human rights values that have been attacked recently in Ankara, Sinai, Beirut, Paris, Yola and Bamako.

Let us recommit our care and hospitality to those fleeing violence, oppression and war.

Let us be compassionate and walk humbly with our God on the way of love, mercy, justice and peace.

 

Signatories:

H.B Chrysostomos II,

Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus.

H.E Dr Talip Atalay,

Mufti of Cyprus

H.E. Nareg,

Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus

H.E. Yousef Soueif,

Archbishop of the Maronite Church of Cyprus

Rev Father Jerzy Kraj,

Latin Patriarchal Vicar and Representative of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cyprus

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE RESUMPTION OF PEACE TALKS

26 February 2014

As religious leaders of Cyprus, we warmly welcome the joint communique of the political leaders of the two communities.

We are encouraged by the joint message of the political leaders that the status quo is unacceptable, that human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as each other ́s distinct identity and integrity should be respected. We welcome their expressed determination to resume negotiations in a result- oriented manner. We expect them to reach a settlement as set out in the joint communique of February 11 2014 and support our efforts to build confidence.

Cyprus has centuries ́ long experience of Christians and Muslims living, working and worshiping side by side in harmony.

Religion was and still is a victim of the protracted conflict. For too many decades we were not able to meet, to listen and to understand each other. For the last years we have agreed to meet regularly, openly express our respect and listen to one another. Our encounters have helped us to get to know each other and understand the other’s needs. Together we have tried to find practical solutions, build trust and confidence and succeeded.

We see our responsibility to ensure that the political conflict is resolved and we believe that there is no alternative to communication, co-operation and co-existence.

Working together, seeking to overcome differences and supporting each other are obligations for people of faith and tools to promote faith when there is doubt, love where there is hatred and hope to overcome despair.

Our faith in God is our hope. It is to Him we turn. For nothing is impossible with God.

Signatories:

H.B Chrysostomos II,

Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus.

H.E Dr Talip Atalay,

Mufti of Cyprus

H.E. Varoujan Herkelian,

Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus

H.E. Yousef Soueif,

Archbishop of the Maronite Church of Cyprus

Rev Father Jerzy Kraj,

Latin Patriarchal Vicar and Representative of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cyprus