Istanbul (Fides Service ) – Today 18 November is a day of mourning not only in Italy but also in Turkey where this morning funerals were held for those killed by two bomb blasts in Istanbul synagogues on Saturday 15 November.
To show sympathy and solidarity, leaders of various religions attended the funeral service held in the Jewish cemetery in Istanbul. Next to the chief Rabbi of Istanbul there were Christian leaders, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomeo, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, Armenian Patriarch, and Muslim leaders. The Catholic community in Turkey was represented by Mgr George Marovich, spokesman of the Inter-Rite Bishop’s Conference embracing 120,000 Catholics in Turkey of Latin, Chaldean, Armenian, Syrian Rites. Numerous rabbis came from Israel for the funeral. Present also Turkish civil authorities, government and parliament members and a huge, silent crowd of Jewish, Muslim and Christian mourners all determined to isolate religious fundamentalism and work together for peace.
“This tragedy – Rev. George Marovich told Fides– has strengthened the bonds which unite the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in Turkey. We are all believers in the Book and now we feel more than ever united. The religious leaders exchanged greetings of solidarity and the people showed deep sympathy with the local Jewish community. During the month of Ramadan there were many interreligious meetings which helped to strengthen brotherhood in the name of dialogue, peace and worship of the one true God ”.
With regard to the latest terrorist attacks in Iraq and Turkey, said to be the action of Muslim fundamentalists, Reverend George told Fides: “a religion cannot use the name of God to kill. Saint John Chrysostom used to say it is easier to kill our enemies than to build relations with them and to try to change their hearts. Today we must isolate fundamentalism, take the paths of dialogue, open to our Muslim brothers and sisters and share with them a spirit of peace and reconciliation. With love of God and prayer hearts can be changed and hatred uprooted ”.
Recalling the day of national mourning in Italy the spokesman told Fides: “We are united in prayer with the families of the Italian soldiers killed at Nassiriya and with all the people of Italy”.
(PA) (Fides Service 18/11/2003 lines 39 words 413)