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27 December, 2000
The leaders of all Orthodox Churches held a liturgy service in the ruins of the Agia Sofia temple, officiated by the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Vartholomeos on Tuesday at Nice, Turkey, celebrating the closing of the second millennium since the birth of Christ.
In a joint declaration, signed during their third meeting in Istanbul and read at the end of the liturgy, the leaders called for unity of all Christian Churches as well as unity of all people quoting the New Testament verse "there is no man or woman, no Jew or Gentile, no lord or slave".
In the same message, read from the temple - turned to museum - where the first and seventh Ecumenical Synods of Christianity took place, they condemned nationalist tendencies that have plagued the Orthodox Churches from time to time.
"The local Autocephalus Churches should not be the executors of nationalist and racial tendencies," they stressed in their message, adding that the local churches can not be promoting "national identities".
On Monday, Christmas Day of the year 2000 Vartholomeos officiated at a Christmas service in Istanbul which was attended by Orthodox Patriarchs, Archbishops and prelates of Autocephalus Churches and representatives of other Christian non-Orthodox Churches.
Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis, representing Greece, attended the service at the Patriarchate's seat in Istanbul's Fanar district.
The meeting of Orthodox Patriarchs and prelates of Autocephalus Churches begun in earnest on Sunday to celebrate the close of the Second Millennium since the birth of Christ and subsequently of the Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos headed the celebrations and was presiding over the Patriarchs' meetings, focused on "the spirit of love and unity prevailing in the Orthodox Christian Churches two thousand years after their establishment".
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America Dimitrios along with another five religious leaders of the United States addressed the United Nations General Assembly calling for the protection of people from the civil wars around the world, that are based on religious intolerance.
Source: Athens News Agency