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Russia
Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II
Statement by the Russian Orthodox Church on the Attacks
September 19, 2001

A horrible tragedy occurred in the United States of America yesterday. The act of terrorism, unprecedented in history, carried off the lives of thousands of innocent civilians. People all over the world watched the monstrous picture on the TV screens, refusing to believe the reality of what was happening. We saw buildings burning and destroyed, the bloodstained bodies of the injured, the tears in the eyes of the ordinary Americans -- and we cried together with them.

Our people knows what is war, terror and violence. Apartment house explosions also shook Russian cities, carrying off the lives of many of our compatriots. Hundreds of innocent people, including Orthodox and Moslem priests, were tortured to death or brutally killed. Orthodox shrines are still being destroyed, and the civilian population subjected to terror, in Kosovo and Macedonia.

We mourn for the innocently killed people, pray for their repose. Our special prayer is for those who have been wounded, who have lost their near and dear ones, and who are in fear and despair. May God help our American brothers and sisters in the terrible ordeal that has befallen them.

The Russian Orthodox Church strongly condemns the perpetrators of the barbaric crime. Whatever arguments the criminals may sacrilegiously try to use for its justification, it always will remain a sin against God and people, a violation of the commandments of any religion. What has happened in America has again reminded the world that terrorism cannot be stopped within just one country or one region. This evil has become a trouble facing all of humanity, and the struggle with it must be waged together.

The tragedy ought to sober the world. Governments and peoples must forever learn a major lesson that one cannot rely on terror and lawlessness to achieve political aims, one cannot justify and support criminal forces by reasoning about the human rights of those who not only do not respect others' rights and freedoms, but also sow death and destruction around themselves. The execution of a criminal will must be suppressed or most severely punished.

After yesterday's catastrophe the world has become different. With a full terrifying clarity we saw the specter of a war of the 21st century, for we have encountered yet another, especially impudent attempt to forcibly impose on others one's vision of world order, based on one's own ideological or religious beliefs, absolutizing one's culture and one's way of living. May these tragic days induce us to rethink the modern world pattern and begin to so create it that the peoples of the world could live according to their traditions and aspirations, without exploitation and suppression, but in harmony with each other. Only in this way will we be able to avoid the development of world history according to the most pessimistic scenarios which are coming to mind today.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of America. We wish them the promptest healing of the inflicted wounds and return to a peaceful and happy life. May yesterday's tragedy never recur anywhere. God grant that all peoples of the world may defeat the evil of terror and together, in trust and mutual support, work for the common good. We believe that this will be so, because the Holy Scripture says: "For evil-doers shall utterly perish, but they that wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 36.9).

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© Publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.