United Nations sources and various church-related news agencies have reported that the United Nations have accepted a resolution on the “Protection of Religious Sites”. The Appeal of Conscience Foundation and a diverse group of religious leaders have applauded the passage on May 31st by the United Nations General Assembly of the resolution that protects and preserves religious sites and cultural heritage around the world.
” The passage of this resolution today”, said Greek Archbishop Demetrios of New York, ” leads to a wonderful direction of rejoining respect for the beliefs of others, for the religious history of humanity, which is a common heritage for tolerance and for preserving the concept of the sacred and holy, a concept gradually disappearing under the pressure of secularization, technology and a hectic life style. It is a call to rediscover and preserve what is sacred and holy, and this is exemplified by the sacred religious sites”.
Prior to the vote of the General Assembly, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan met with three of the signatories of the Appeal of Conscience Declaration: Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios; Imam Mohammad Mostafa Ibrahim Jumeiah, Director of Religious and Cultural Affairs of the Islamic Center of New York. Also present were Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN and ACF Trustee Reverend Dr. Fred Anderson of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. They presented the Secretary General with a copy of the appeal to STOP THE DESECRATION OF THE HOLY SITES and thanked him for his efforts on behalf of peace, religious freedom and tolerance.
Signatories not able to attend were Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, DC; Rt. Reverend Richard F. Grein, Bishop of New York, Episcopal Diocese of New York and His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.
The adoption of the UN Resolution for the “Protection of Religious Sites” condemns all threats and acts of violence against religious sites and calls upon governments to exert their utmost efforts to protect and preserve such sites. Originally sponsored by Austria and Hungary, the final resolution included 115 countries as sponsors, out of a total of 180, and was passed by consensus. The religious leaders attended the vote in the General Assembly and held a Press Conference following the final tally.