Metropolitan Emmanuel of France traveled to Nice, at the invitation of the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, to attend a ceremony in honor of the three victims of the October 29 terrorist attack.
He attended the Divine Liturgy this morning at the Parish of Saint Spyridon in Nice. The priest in charge of the Church of Saint Spyridon, Fr. Michael Seliniotakis, officiated the Divine Liturgy behind closed doors.
Addressing the few members of the church council who were allowed to attend the service, the Metropolitan referred to the recent terrorist attacks that shook Nice and France, as well as to the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel and Other Bodiless Powers.
The Metropolitan of France highlighted the significance of the Feast of the Archangels, and then stressed: “Our country has recently been hit three times by terrorist attacks committed by violent extremists. We were shocked by the beheading of a teacher because he spread the freedom of expression, a key element of French society. The beheading of two Christians inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice, here in our city, and the murder of a third believer who was stabbed inside the church. We are all very sad that some people in the name of God take away the lives of other people in such a violent and inhuman way. Of course, this is not acceptable to any religion and is condemned by every reasonable person. It is against our human nature.
It is inconceivable today to have room for the spread of obscure religious beliefs and for the cultivation of hatred and discrimination, in any religion and society.
We live in a country where, as our president often points out and as the Constitution postulates, everything is based upon fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights. In this context, we can not accept any censorship or setbacks to the great achievements of France in defending human rights and religious freedoms. ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ said Voltaire.
So we are proud of France and its people. We remain quiet because this freedom is in harmony with the Gospel. The respect for the neighbor and the freedom in Christ that enables us to love and respect our neighbors voluntarily is one basic principle of the Gospel. Our free will is what sets us apart from animals and defines us as reasonable beings.”