During the last millennium, all too often we have seen the ravaging of houses of worship and the desecration of holy and sacred places. We believe it paramount to take a strong stand against such desecration and clearly reaffirm the Appeal of Conscience Foundation Berne Declaration of 1992 that stated:
A CRIME COMMITTED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION IS A CRIME AGAINST RELIGION
The United Nations has designated the year 2001 as the “Year for Dialogue among Civilizations.” A basic premise for dialogue is respect for holy sites that are sacred to religious believers and are a precious heritage for our civilizations. Therefore, we join in a call to the United Nations, all governments, institutions and persons everywhere to reaffirm their commitment and obligation to protect, preserve and restore churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, religious monuments and shrines that are an integral part of our cultures and civilizations.
Our call reiterates the declarations adopted by the Appeal of Conscience “Peace and Tolerance” international conferences of religious leaders in Berne, Istanbul, and Vienna, “for an end to the confiscation, desecration and destruction of houses of worship and of holy and sacred places of whatever religion.” Among the signatories were the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, His Eminence Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the personal representative of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church, H.E. Sheikh-ul Islam Pashazade of Azerbaijan, Rais-l-Ulema Jakub efendi Selimoski of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
We therefore, call upon all people of differing faiths and cultures to join us:
1. Declare that it is against the will of God and His teachings to willfully destroy, damage or endanger the safety, security and well being of any and all religious premises, including places of worship, religious shrines, and monuments.
2. Urge the United Nations, all governmental authorities, regional groupings of states, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, media organizations, academic and other institutions to respect and safeguard all religious premises, especially during civil disturbances and armed conflict; to promote tolerance of all religions, to encourage respect for human dignity toward members of differing religions and to discourage all acts of incitement that may endanger the safety and security of religious premises of any faith.
The United Nations resolution points to the “threats to global peace, security and well being” which includes “racism and xenophobia” and calls for a “new paradigm of inclusion and cooperation based on justice and non-discrimination.”
In the name of humanity and in the pursuit of peace, we call upon all people of differing cultures and religions to join us to help build confidence and trust among peoples and nations.
The United Nations, New York, NY
This Declaration was signed by:
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President
Appeal of Conscience Foundation
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington, DC
(Now His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick)
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Primate, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
Rt. Reverend Richard F. Grein
Episcopal Bishop of New York
Imam Mohammad Mostafa Ibrahim Jumeiah
Director of Religious and Cultural programs
Islamic Center of New York