Press Release No: 16/22
29 June 2016
The Conference of European Churches mourns the gun and bomb attacks that took the lives of a reported 41 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport. Upwards of 140 more are reported wounded in the deadly acts of violence. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are the latest to take place throughout Turkey in the last year, including in the capital Ankara and near the Syrian border.
The Conference of European Churches mourns the tremendous loss of life in Istanbul. We lament the promising futures lost and difficult days and years ahead for those who were injured at Ataturk.
“The attack on Istanbul hurts all of us because it targets one of the cradles of European civilisation,” remarked CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “Istanbul is a city at the crossroads of east and west, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is the biggest city in Europe and it is one of the centres of global Christianity, although the Christians there live as a minority among a Muslim majority in a secular state. To target this bustling centre of historic and contemporary importance is an attack against the development of Turkey as a democratic and open European nation.”
As those affected by yesterday’s violence, begin recovery from this latest attack, CEC asks that our Member Churches and all people of goodwill pray for Istanbul and Turkey.
In light of these events, the Conference of European Churches has written a message of condolence and solidarity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The text of this message follows:
Your All Holiness,
The news of yesterday’s violent attacks at Ataturk international airport has reached the people and churches of Europe with deepest sorrow. On behalf of the Conference of European Churches, we extend to you our sincere condolences to you and all the people of Turkey.
Acts motivated by the desire to promote fear and terror place strain our communities and our societies. They create suspicion of neighbour and erode solidarity. In the aftermath of this deadly attack, we must be courageous in our resistance to these forces, and draw strength from the Holy One.
We commend the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and personally of Your All Holiness for the continued Christian presence in Istanbul and Turkey, and your work for a spirituality of justice and peace.
We pray that God may keep the souls of those who died, heal those that have survived, and sustain the families and communities touched by this immeasurable loss. The prayers of European Christians are with your witnessing church and all the people of your blessed and historical city.
With deepest condolences,
Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD
The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Heikki Theodoros Huttunen