image with the sign of the Greek Church

Main Page | The Holy Synod | The Archbishop | News | Solidarity
The Library | Chanting | Technical Support | Contact



"Peace And Development"


Opening Greeting By His Beatitude, Archbishop of Athens and All of Greece, Christodoulos

The first obligation is always to welcome the participants. But today, this is not an obligation for me. It is both a great honor and joy. Honor, because I was called upon to greet this meeting of all the distinguished guests, who have gathered here to confront, in this crucial time, a set of problems concerning our European future, meanwhile the countdown for the launching of our common European currency has already begun, and at the same time the worlwide economy tends to be equated with a bombarded minefield. But I also feel this is a great joy, because amongst all of you seated here are the protagonists of human rights, the dedicated humanitarians of our society. We greet all of you in Christ' s love.

The subject of your meeting, Peace and Development, is vital, because, many times, dangerous illusions have been strengthened at a broad level of the public concerning these two central concepts of social life. Please allow me to mention on the surface two of these illusions, because they are articulated in the spiritual field.

First, it is not true that if we only stop laboring for war, we will have peace. The conflicts between states, just as between individuals, comprise the unavoidable reality of our world -of which I will not mention on a theological base. We do not have peace simply and only by not preparing for war; we do not have peace empty-handedly. Apathy does not promote peace, neither of course, allow me to insist, neither does our abandoment of the responsibility of the defense 'pro domo sua'.

Peace is the product of many qualities: dialogue, comprehension, rapprochement and more importantly justice. Without these, peace does not exist but rather fear-inspired order; there is an absence of war due to fear, either mutual (as is the case of the "Cold War"), or because of a powerful and substantial tyrannical force.

In fact, in order for us to have peace, we must defend freedom. The conqueror does not promote peace just because he asks for it, without withdrawing from the conquered territory. Just as an estabished regime does not promote peace through international relations by relying on terror and the oppression of its citizens. This is a lesson that the ancient Greek tragedies have given us, and which Christianity has consolidated. It is a lesson which the human rights protection organizations bestow on the modern political scene.

In order for us to have peace, we must work for justice as well. Peace does not flourish wherever voices of pain and suffering exist, wherever the starved, the sick, and homeless multiply.

The second dangerous error is the conception that development means only the growth of wealth and technological know-how. On the contrary, development truly exists only provided that the standard of living for the lower stratum of society is substantially improved. If the wealth of the rich solely or even mainly increases, we do not have development, but barbarity. We must all realize that the standard of society is judged not by the potentials of the powerful but by the potentials of the weak --by their numbers and conditions of living.

Precisely for this reason, development is not the product of an economic policy only. but also the product of those qualities that lead toward peace: Dialogue, comprehension, rapprochement, and more importantly justice. Against these, the "development numbers" is not simply a matter of indifference but also extremely dangerous. True development is only that which promotes social cohesion, in other words, solidarity.

In the light of this, allow me to wish that just as this meeting will respond to those voices that equate development with what we could call the "thailandization" of Europe. I also pray that you will demonstrate that development is the opposite trend, namely the elevation of the Thai and other poor populations to the standard of the European. I am nor remarking here on specific actions, but I am only mentioning the goal of these actions, toward the vision that political alternatives serve.

The conditions for peace and development that I mentioned, also bestow on us the measure of understanding of the European Union. The greatest task of peace and development in our history is the European Union.

Indeed, it is the first time in our sovereign history --and it was just yesterday that battling states jointly decided to gradually reduce, but with a swift rate, their national sovereignty in order to build the policies and economy of the community. The event has a particular significance in that the economy of the union and development was based on the protection and encouragement of social cohesion.

And it is essential to consciously realize that out of all the populations, whether they already participate in the Union or they are working toward their accession, the greatest and most instructive achievement is not the gradual reduction of the national sovereignty of its members, but rather the vertical expansion of solidarity between them.

I am not among those who are convinced that the union of Europe comprises the solution to all of our national and individual problems collectively and automatically, neither am I among those who deem our adaptation to union as the only wortly problem of discussion. On the contrary, I consider the union not to be a crystal ball that we will encounter nonchalantly walking towards it. We create the union everyday, by the problems and concerns that are raised and by confronting them with great caution. We do not obtain this essential caution by disregarding our history and its lessons, but completely on the contrary, we obtain it by encouraging our common basic principles, which history testifies to and by which they preserved our tradition. We Europeans did not create our union by rejecting our national histories and traditions; we did not create this union by rejecting our literature and language. The European Union is not our product of making the European populations equal, but of a brave elevation of them from the realism of nationalistic conflicts to the dream of a social brotherhood. Realism was defeated, the dream triumphed, because the dream spanned the centuries, it was the aspiration running through all the national histories and traditions of the people of Europe. For this reason I say that our common European house will be built with the pages of our histories, and not by forgetfulness. We are not lotus-eaters. No European populace is inclined to forget itself.

I pray that during your meeting, you will keep in the forefront of your minds the spiritual realities that are expressed not by numbers and analyses: but rather the reality of justice, of solidarity, and of historical memory.

Previous page