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Peter Skov-Jakobsens åbningstale

Læs biskop Peter Skov-Jakobsens tale for irakiske religiøse ledere ved møde i København

Opening Speech by Bishop of Copenhagen
Emergency Summit of the High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq,
Copenhagen, 12. January at 9.30

As the Bishop of Copenhagen, I would first of all like to say how great an honour, it is to host you at this Emergency Summit. I am very grateful that you have been willing to come here.

I recognize your significance and placement within Iraqi society and the stature in which you are esteemed. Equally, I acknowledge with gratitude the time you are setting aside for this event, in the midst of your very busy lives, filled with many obligations and duties.

I do not need to impress on you the seriousness of the situation in Iraq. You know this very well from every day experience as it is your people and your country that are affected by violence and lack of security.

My first duty has been to support you in finding solutions to address the religious violence and the intolerance that it causes. When asked if I would host this meeting I therefore had no doubt that I should take on this role and responsibility.

The Diocese of Copenhagen has for a number of years followed the situation in Iraq with great concern for the well-being of its people.

That was why we in 2008 hosted the reconciliation conference with religious and political leaders that led to the Copenhagen Accord. I hope this meeting will be equally productive and come up with an equally visionary statement.

We have also been greatly concerned with the plight of Iraqi citizens who have sought refuge and asylum in Denmark and who have faced great uncertainty in Denmark. In this work, we have never discriminated in favor of any one faith or religious tradition but worked to help Iraqis of all religious backgrounds.

We have found it natural to do this work. It has been our view that we as religious people have had a special responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Iraqis who fled violence and persecution. We would call it a responsibility to protect and also a responsibility to serve.

I am also particular happy that we have been able to support the important work of Andrew White and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.

His dedication to Iraq, to reconciliation and to promoting the highest qualities inherent in religious belief and practice is truly inspiring and important to the world at large.

We live in a world where there appears to be increasing tensions and insecurity and religion should play a positive role in lessening these tensions. I certainly would want to support these efforts.

We should also acknowledge that religious intolerance and persecution has a long history and has been an element of all religious faiths.

Every country around the world has been affected by religious intolerance and persecution either in the past or in the present.

But history has also shown us that these are issues that can be overcome. Religious intolerance and persecution have been overcome by the vision, courage, persistence and sacrifices of religious leaders. Let this serve as an inspiration for us this week.

As religious leaders we are used to seeking a higher truth than the one sought for politics. As Muslims and Christians, we believe that there is only one creator, one humanity and one world. It is part of our duty as religious leaders to protect all of Gods creation.

And even if in the great perspective, this meeting is only a drop in the ocean, we do not want this drop to be missing on that great day when God will make an account of all human history.

Distinguished guests, Distinguished leaders of different faiths and denominations: there is a lot of important and difficult work ahead of you.

We do share the belief that God is merciful and compassionate. We do share the belief that there is one God and He is Creator of humankind in all its diversity. Let us witness in amazement this fact of creation and honour God by honoring His diversity as it is pictured in our diversity of faith, culture, nationality etc.

Let us try to find a shared moral ground for humanity to create a lasting peace and enjoy the manifold diversities of Creation.

I wish you all the best over the next days. I hope you will find wisdom where needed, courage when required and that when we meet in good faith that we can promise and show the way to a better world.