His Holiness Karekin II–the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–took part in the inaugural ceremonies and opening sessions of the "Millennium World Peace Conference of Religious and Spiritual Leaders."
On the afternoon of Tuesday–August 29–His Holiness delivered formal remarks in the UN General Assembly. His address was delivered during the third of the day’s session–entitled–"Towards Forgiveness and Reconciliation," chaired by Dudu Chili–a member of South Africa’s well-known Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Also speaking during the session was the Rev. Anne Graham Lotz–daughter of American evangelist Billy Graham–as well as representatives of the Hindu–Jewish–Buddhist–Bahai–Sikh and Islamic faiths.
Below is the complete text of Karekin II’s address Your Excellency Kofi Annan–Secretary-General Bawa Jain–Distinguished Participants:
It is an honor for me as Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s to address the United Nations–the organizers–sponsors and distinguished participants of this religious World Peace Summit. In seeking to find new avenues of international understanding and cooperation–this unique conference shows a welcome appreciation for the role of religion in the life of humanity.
The Armenian Nation has had a turbulent history–often coming close to the very brink of survival. And yet–with all the trials and tribulations–in 2001–eight million Armenia’s the world over will be celebrating the 1700th jubilee of the proclamation of Christianity as the State religion of Armenia. Through the best and worst of times–we have never forsaken our faith and our desire for peace. Armenia’s–like all people–dream of a stable–harmonious world and strive to find paradise lost.
Over the last hundred years–despite great technological advances–the Century was tragically marked by war–genocide–ethnic and religious conflict and widespread human’suffering. Isn’t this our own failure to understand–forgive and reconcile? Isn’t this because we–all too often–do not accept responsibility for mankind’s sufferings? Is this not our individual and collective duty to renounce violence–life threatening indifference and intolerance?
The time has come for us to create a different reality for the 21st Century. As spiritual leaders–even though we have differences in our faiths–we all believe in the importance of love and compassion. These are the bases for achieving forgiveness and reconciliation. The road is never easy. He who seeks reconciliation must first love truth and justice–and steadfastly respect the rights of individuals and nations.
Without the benefit of enriching and reinforcing these spiritual and moral values–history shows us that coexistence is ineffective in maintaining peaceful societies. People are incapable–without these values and principles–of preserving a wholesome and unspoiled universe.
The trampling of eternal spiritual and moral principals of truth–freedom and justice always give way to antagonism and adversity. In the last century alone–mankind has endured two World Wars. At the onset of World War I–one and a half million Armenia’s were massacred and deported from their historic homeland by the Ottoman Turks. If society had only the courage and virtue to act to prevent this Genocide or at least condemn it after the fact–Hitler may not have had the opportunity to pronounce ‘Who now remembers the Armenia’s?’ as he plotted the Holocaust of six million Jews.
After 85 years–Armenia’still awaits universal recognition and condemnation of the Genocide–which as the victory of justice–are equally indispensable to all the nations of the world–including the Turkish Nation. The first step of the negation of evil is to reject it from our own hearts.
A century has passed; today in different corners of the world conflict–violence and war persist. The solution to these and other complex issues will require universal attention and united efforts.
As we look to the participants of this exceptional summit–we realize that together we surely represent a force of more than a billion people. We have gathered in order to integrate true faith and spiritual values–the essential elemen’s of life–in the global effort to end violence and promote peace. We can look to South Africa and Northern Ireland as inspirational examples of how even the seemingly most intractable and long-lasting of conflicts can be resolved through hard work–international efforts–a balance of interests and a respect for the rights of all those involved.
Armenia’s–who are struggling for a free and independent life in Nagorno-Karabakh–understand well the importance of mutual respect for the rights of individuals and nations. It is the hope of the Armenian people that the resolution of the Karabakh conflict will be achieved in the near future–providing another example that resolution and reconciliation can occur in even the most difficult of conflicts.
Our mandate is clear. Whatever transformation the world passes through–the restoration of the original and true image–nature and purpose in the life of mankind is only possible along the path of faith–under the guidance of God. We must work hard to show our believers the constructive power of human’solidarity. With dialogue and cooperation–it is possible we can leave a better world for the generations to come.
It is our humble prayer that God may strengthen and sustain us as we bear our responsibilities. We express our hopes through the words of our Lord–Jesus Christ–when greeting His Apostles–’Peace unto you.’ Peace to us all! Thank you.