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Ecclesiastical diplomacy

Greece maintains strong historical ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the other Greek Orthodox Patriarchates, and the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, and supports their initiatives on issues related to the interreligious and intercultural dialogue, the protection of religious freedom, the protection of the environment and the religious heritage. It also maintains strong ties with the Holy Monastery of the Mount Sinai (Saint Catherine’s Monastery), the oldest Christian monastery, with unique spiritual and cultural treasures, a sacred place revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Greece follows the activities of the World Council of Churches, the relations between the Orthodox Churches, as well as the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christian Churches to which it maintains a close communication. In the context of ecclesiastical diplomacy, Greece supports and promotes international initiatives and interfaith contacts of its Christian, Muslim and Jewish institutions.

The dialogue among the Orthodox Churches and the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, convened from 16 to 27 June 2016 at the premises of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, have been followed with great interest by Orthodox Christians, Christians worldwide and people from around the globe.

Following a Pre-Conciliar process in which participated all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Council has successfully completed its work with the approval of the agenda items and its Message addressed to Orthodox Christians and all people of good will, demonstrating the essential role of Conciliarity as an institution of the Orthodox Church and conveying a message of unity and hope.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had established a Special Committee of the Holy and Great Council for public sector coordination to support the organization.

The ecumenical dialogue between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church, in addition to its importance for the Church itself, has led the two major Christian denominations to cooperation for the promotion of human values and the protection of the environment.

Greece attaches particular importance to the interreligious dialogue, which promotes respect for the rights of religious communities, enhances understanding between religions and holds, alone or as an essential aspect of intercultural dialogue, an important position in international relations. It is an issue of high priority in the agenda of international organizations. In this context, Greece is promoting the relative activity of the Greek Orthodox Churches.

During the current crisis in the Middle East region, where the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai have been established, Greece follows with concern the developments and expresses its strong interest for the protection of the local Christian communities, the Christian shrines and Monuments.

In this context an International Conference on the religious and cultural pluralism and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East was organized in Athens in October 2015 on the initiative of the Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. Heads of Churches, ministers, religious leaders from all countries of the wider region of the Middle East, and representatives of the international academic community and civil society participated.

Mount Athos is one of the holiest places for all Orthodox Christians, as evidenced by the visits of pilgrims from around the world. Promotion of the monastic community as a major cultural heritage center and the relations of the Holy Community with the Greek State constitute high priorities of ecclesiastical diplomacy. In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperates closely with the Administration of Mount Athos on issues within its competency, in accordance with the provisions of Article 105 of the Constitution.

Finally, there is constant cooperation with the Church of Greece on issues related to its international activities, ecclesiastical diplomacy, and the promotion of religious tourism in Greece.

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