Quick Quotations by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew On Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Tolerance


On Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church at the Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004

We know that the process of reconciliation is not always easy. The division between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church has persisted for centuries.  Yet, we firmly believe that, with the guidance of the Risen Lord, our differences are not beyond resolution. Moreover, we believe that we have a solemn obligation to our Lord to heal our painful divisions. For this reason, we must be persistent in our prayer. We must increase our expressions of love and mutual respect. We must strengthen our theological dialogue. (Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004)

Our reconciliation will not take place without countless acts of love, forgiveness and mutual respect. Through these actions, we unite ourselves consciously with our Lord who manifested God's mercy and love.  By expressing our love together, we become the persons through whom Christ continues to work in our world today.  (Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004)

Our reconciliation will not take place without countless acts of love, forgiveness and mutual respect. Through these actions, we unite ourselves consciously with our Lord who manifested God's mercy and love.  By expressing our love together, we become the persons through whom Christ continues to work in our world today. (Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004)

We can never accept a superficial unity, which neglects the difficult issues, which separate us at the table of the Lord.  With prayer and with love, we must examine fully and honestly all the theological issues which divide us. The unity which our Lord desires for us as Orthodox and Roman Catholics must always affirm the faith of the Apostles and must sustain the good order of the Church. (Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004)

The division between our Churches is not simply the result of theological differences. The division has been compounded by political, economic, and cultural factors over the centuries. The division also has been aggravated by historical actions which have had tragic consequences both for the churches and for the world. (Orientale Lumen Conference, 2004)



The Ecumenical Patriarchate has initiatiated and sponsored numerous encounters and conversations with representatives of the Muslim faith from as early as 1986 to the present, searching in common for ways of cooperation and communication, as well as peaceful coexistence, by means of mutual respect and religious tolerance. Meetings have been held since 1986 in - among other places - Switzerland (1986, 1988), Jordan (1987, 1993, 1996, 1998), Turkey (1989, 1995, 1997, 1998), Greece (1994), and Bahrain (2000, 2002)

On Interfaith Dialogue in Bahrain, 2000

We conduct these dialogues in order for it to become more widely understood that it is not religious differences which create conflicts among humanity. If indeed the cause of human conflict was due to the differences between religions, then there should not be any conflict among the faithful of the same religion. However, there are plenty of conflicts and wars even among faithful of the same religion.(Bahrain 2000)

On Interfaith Dialogue in Ankara, 1998

Dialogue is a necessary precondition of mutual understanding; and mutual understanding is a precondition of mutual trust as well as of the ability to cooperate and to coexist. (Ankara, 1998)

On Divine Truth in Ankara, 2000

As religious leaders, responsible before God to express divine truth, in whatever degree we are cognitive of it, which means the conscious rejection of projecting of our personal tastes as being the will of God, we are obligated to humbly embrace respect and allow our fellow human beings to traverse their own personal path to God. (Ankara, 2000)

On God's Will in Brussels, 2001

Truly, we find impossible to accept, on the basis of the faith of all representatives of the three monotheistic religions, that the compassionate, merciful and long-suffering God, who does not desire the death of the sinner but rather his repentance, conversion and salvation, approves of all the abhorrent events which history has recorded with grief and our hearts behold with pain. (Brussels, 2001)

On Social Peace in Brussels, 2001

We know that there are different religious views among us. We do not consider it necessary to have these differences extinguished in order to achieve social peace. We respect our fellow human beings and their convictions, and it is exactly on this basis that we engage in dialogue and peaceful cooperation with them. (Brussels, 2001)

On Religion and Truth in Iran, 2002

We all believe that religion is God's gift to humankind. The fact that we have many religions and many dogmatic groups within any one religion automatically raises the question whether all of them are equal revelations of God, or whether we need to exclude the rest. The answer of Christianity to this question, like that of Islam, is that, to begin with, the full revelation of God exists within its faith, but that many truths are included in the other religions and especially the monotheistic ones, just as they exist in every human conscience as a divine seed. Early Christianity calls these truths the "seminal word" (logos spermatikos), namely the word of truth sown by God into the souls of human beings. (Iran, 2002)

On God's Will in Qatar, 2002

The perfect will of God is that we love each other to the extent that we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the other. When, however, we cannot do this, then, we ought at least to collaborate with each other. If it happens that we are unable to do even this, then, at least we should not let ourselves fight one other. And if we fail to achieve even this, at least we should observe basic international rules. (Qatar, 2002)

On Interfaith Dialogue in Libya, 2003

Humanity currently finds itself in a situation where the necessity of dialogue as a method of solving conflicts and problems in every area of human life has become apparent. The co-existence of members of different religions is increasing and they are today interacting in a uniquely direct manner, due to the recent advances of the mass media and means of transportation, as well as the immigration of followers of one religion to countries where another religion predominates. (Libya, 2003)

True dialogue is a gift from God to humankind. According to St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century A.D., God is always in dialogue with human beings. God speaks through the Prophets and the Apostles, just as He also speaks through creation. The heavens declare the glory of God, exclaims the holy Psalmist, and whoever is able to listen with understanding to the silent words of the creation, is truly blessed. (Libya, 2003)

On Turkey in Washington DC, 2004

The incorporation of Turkey and the Turkish model into the European Union may well provide a concrete example and a powerful symbol of mutually beneficial cooperation between the Western and Islamic worlds and put an end to the talk of a clash of civilizations. This, in turn, would be a true strengthening of Europe and the European ideals that converge with the values of "the Religions of the Book" spoken of by the current Prime Minister of Turkey. (Washington, DC, 2004)

On the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Brussels, 2004

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is not a national organization and does not represent any particular national or local church, such as the Greek, or the one in Turkey, the country of its See. Rather, it is a supranational ecclesiastical institution, holding within its embrace the faithful of many nationalities, and maintaining a benevolent and equitable disposition, being open to all human beings on equal terms. It is an institution, which demonstrates religious tolerance as a beautiful reality. For we bear respect toward all our fellow humans, irrespective of their faith. Without any trace of fanaticism or discrimination on account of differences of religion, we coexist peacefully and in a spirit that honors each and every human being. (Brussels, 2004)

On the Orthodox Christian Faith  in London, 2005

With approximately 300 million faithful in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East but also in the New World, the Orthodox Church is a force of unity, a stabilizing factor and an essential component in the ongoing process to create a new European reality bridging the eastern and western Christian cultures and traditions of the continent. Under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Orthodox dioceses have been present for a long time in almost all the countries of Western Europe, providing spiritual guidance to the Orthodox faithful. Moreover, as a result of this decentralized structure, Orthodoxy is in a position to reach, in a much more direct and effective manner, its faithful through its local Churches, operating under the coordination of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, first among the equal Churches of the Orthodox commonwealth. (London, 2005)

On Christian/Muslim Relations in Vienna, 2005

The conflicts between Christians and Muslims that are mentioned throughout history have their roots in politics and not in religion. Every time religion has been used for inciting enmity and misfortunes, it has been a case of taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses and misleading them into actions of intolerance and fanaticism. If we examine these cases with a clear and healthy mind we see that they are unjustifiable and unacceptable. (Vienna, 2005)