GERMAN DIOCESE: September 8, 2011
Appeal by Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist acts in the USA
Dear Reverend Fathers:
On September 11, 2011, the world will mark a sorrowful anniversary—ten years since the terrorist act in New York, when multitudes of innocent people died. This terrorist act, along with those that followed, clearly showed that wickedness, lawlessness and hatred are becoming more brazen. It has demonstrated how defenseless man is in this world. Also clear is that behind today’s terrorist acts are the bold lust for power and cynical political calculation.
The events in Beslan, which drew our diocese into close communion with the victims of extremists, once again showed the world how man is becoming degraded when he sinks into fanaticism in the name of ideology—whether religious, nationalistic or political. People today often hide behind faith in their god, but in reality they have lost all piety and as a result have no respect for humanity.
A human being who severs his relationship with God is transformed into a hater of mankind. We belong to that One Church which was established by the Savior. This deprives us of the right to hate, to treat others with disdain or despise their beliefs.
Belonging to the true Church of Christ, Catholic and Apostolic, obliges us to live fully in accordance with the commandments of the Gospel and to serve as an example of true Christian life to others. The living truth of Christ reveals to us our own sins and failings. With a pure heart, we repent in the fact that we ourselves serve as a poor example to the world of life according to the Gospel. Through genuine repentance, by transforming our hearts, we can bring others to the truth of Christ, but we cannot do this through self-aggrandizement or condemnation.
In the countries which comprise our two dioceses, as well as in Russia, militant Islam is developing, as well as other militant ideologies of different colorations, from fascist to pseudo-liberal. But in my opinion, indifference to our own faith and to the beliefs of others contains no less a danger than alien fanaticism or cynicism and corruption. We Orthodox must truly grow into our faith and our traditions, we must fill ourselves with Christ and His love, and not simply fulfill some external rituals which we barely even understand. We must all learn to listen to our own hearts, listen to God, to immerse ourselves in prayer, and heed the words and thoughts of our neighbors.
How often we dismiss the sorrows and joys of our neighbors. Meanwhile, we forget: he who cannot listen to one’s neighbor can hardly listen to himself, being unable to hear the call of his heart, and heed God in his heart, his conscience. He does not then understand what is happening in his own heart. This is the first thing that we must learn. Only then can we be suffused with love and respect for man as God’s creation and can hope that the Lord will also bring others to this view of life, His holy gift.
September 11 falls on a Sunday this year, and moreover, this is a day of fasting, precisely because this day, St John the Baptist, who fervently loved God, was unjustly slain. Through prayer and fasting, said the Savior, the devil goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. I ask all the clergymen of our dioceses on this day to make special petitions during Liturgy, and if possible to address the flock with a sermon in this same spirit.
With love in Christ, I remain yours,