Entries with tag faith matters .

“Why Good Priests Matter”

I lost my patience recently. Then, I lost my temper. These are two things that I rarely experience, and, as self-flattering as this pronouncement may appear, they are behaviors I would like to believe would not be associated with me by those who know me. Yet, under the escalating weight of a host of professional demands and other pressures that had been building for several weeks, I reacted with anger and indignation at two young men, both of whom are my juniors in age and station, and both of who unfairly suffered my misdirected frustration. My immediate embarrassment and my subsequent apology to these two young men were genuine and sincere, but I remained very upset and disappointed with myself. I shared my distress with a Greek Orthodox priest and friend who himself was privy to the situation that had produced my pique. In so doing, I was reminded why priests—good priests—matter.

I have been a steward, and, in some cases, a parish council member, of Greek Orthodox communities in places as diverse as a predominantly working-class, immigrant parish in an industrial city in northern Indiana; an enormous suburban church in New Jersey; an affluent, professional congregation in Manhattan; and a large, once-thriving parish in a Boston area town. One thing that I found to be a constant in all of these different congregations was the decisive, determinant role that the priest played in shaping the life and character of the parish community. Priests clearly at peace with themselves and happy with their pastoral ministry tended to lead communities that were united, whole, and spiritually alive. To what extent each—priest or parish—had either a positive or negative influence on the other could be debated. Nonetheless, what was clear and recurrent in my experience was the simple, and perhaps not surprising, fact that priests who were in harmony with their calling not only deepened the unity and well-being of their parishes, but, in those instances where churches had experienced strife, they were able to restore health and love to their communities. Conversely, priests in personal crisis, whose calling was imperiled, inexorably exported their own crises into their parishes.

We are all “priests.” Indeed, Orthodox Christianity proceeds from the understanding that inasmuch as the whole body of the faithful—His Church—forms a holy and royal priesthood, we, the people of God, are all priests. Nonetheless, it is recognized from the time of the Apostles that within the universal priesthood of believers there is a special, sacramental priesthood, hence the distinction between clergy and laity. The sacramental priest—known originally and formally as presbyteros (from “elder,” as in the Jewish rabbinic tradition)—is established through the sacrament of ordination. Ordination, which invests a new priest with the ecclesial authority to administer sacraments, is performed by a bishop, with the consent of the people of God—meaning, in practice, a congregation which completes the ordination by shouting “Axios, Worthy!”

Dispensing the sacraments—holy rites, mysteries, in which Orthodox Christians experience the reality of God through the enacting of His Grace—are the exclusive responsibility and prerogative of the priesthood. Nonetheless, the effectiveness and fullness of the sacraments are not dependent on the personal virtue or character of the administering priest. Precisely because the sacraments are understood to constitute the presence of Christ acting through the Holy Spirit, the priest, despite considerable popular misunderstanding among Orthodox faithful (and even among some priests), is neither a vessel nor an intermediary between God’s Grace and God’s people. Instead, Orthodox teaching explains that the priest is an icon of Christ. His role is weighty, a fact reflected in every aspect of a priest’s life, both public and private, both pastoral and non-ministerial.

The priesthood is a calling, meaning a dedication to a way of life, not merely a chosen profession. In short, this means that a man has been called by God to commit his life to serve God’s Grace. The priest assumes throughout his life the responsibility of uniting all the people of God together in Christ and sacramentally manifesting the presence of Christ in the Church.

In carrying out his calling, the ordinary parish priest must do extraordinary things: he must preach the message of Christ; promote love and peace; enrich the religious and theological literacy of his communicants; deepen his community’s understanding of the teachings of the Church; and foster awareness and respect for the Orthodox Church’s history and traditions. Furthermore, he has to accomplish all this in the midst of answering the day-to-day needs and demands and challenges of a parish community. Above all, the priest must live a life that is always unwaveringly centered on Christ’s love, and that is consistent with the principles, morality, and ethics he—the priest—preaches. I recall from my youth, a visiting priest at my parents’ Sunday table confiding to my sympathetic father that the priesthood is simultaneously both the greatest blessing and the greatest cross to bear. Truly, only a genuine calling can lead to the making of a priest capable of facing and fulfilling such imposing, yet stirring, responsibilities.

I have known many extraordinary priests. Few among us have not had our lives blessed or have not been inspired by a great priest. All the same, Orthodoxy correctly affirms that priests do not manifest the presence of Christ through their talents, charisma, knowledge, or other personal attributes, but through their sacramental function, which is not affected or influenced by a priest’s qualities. But what is also clear is that a priest’s imprint extends beyond his sacramental functions. In that sense, and in that sphere of life in the Church, we most often encounter the benefit and grace of a good priest.

The priest in whom I confided my recent story of pressure, anger, and regret is an extraordinary priest and a good man. He responded to me with this liberating Christian perspective:

Aleko, I understand. Just know that there is so much love in the world, that no matter what others say to us it can never diminish God's love for us. Try to focus and search for this love even in the most trying circumstances. You will see that you will find joy in even the uncomfortable times and with the most difficult people. God loves you, as do I.

In my friend priest’s earnest words to me I sensed the presence of Christ’s message of love, and so I was reminded of why good priests matter. Their commitment to live according to God’s love, along with their ability to fervently convey that love to the world, is what makes priests not only important, but also, good.

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

Abducted Syrian Bishops Serve as Models of Christian Service

This month marked four years since two Christian hierarchs were abducted at gunpoint in Syria. While Metropolitan Paul of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and Bishop John, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, were en route from Antioch to Aleppo, they were stopped by unknown assailants and taken hostage. The deacon driving their car was shot and killed.

The bishops’ whereabouts and status remain unknown. As Syria has been embroiled in a devastatingly violent and multifaceted civil war since 2011, various factions immediately blamed each other for the abductions.

The extended disappearance of the bishops has had a marked and heart-rending effect on the Christian population both in Syria and around the world. Both men were known as prominent and dedicated clerics in their communities.

And there’s one more important detail to the story that I haven’t mentioned yet.

The bishops were returning from a humanitarian mission when they were kidnapped.

In today’s charged political climate, much of the conversation here in the United States and in Europe centers on security over humanity and dignity. Civil authorities endlessly debate the merits of offering humanitarian aid and of safe haven in our own communities, particularly to the victims of violence in the Middle East.

Metropolitan Paul and Bishop John, both residents of Aleppo, probably knew better than anybody how dangerous it was to venture out past their front gates and into the world. And yet they did it anyway.

They took their Christian role as servants very seriously, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

The bishops could easily have decided that it would have been too risky to travel. They could very well have remained secure in their homes, offices and cathedrals.

But they didn’t. They went out into the world to serve.

As Christians, our ambition is to follow the example of Jesus; to live a Life in Christ.

And though we still do not know where Meropolitan Paul and Bishop John are, their service reminds us that our individual and collective potential for helping others is far greater than the power of death.

Indeed, the anniversary of their abduction during this Paschal season emphasizes the power of Christ in the world. Christians, after all, are not deterred by danger; we go out into the world and open the doors to our communities in service for many.

Andrew Romanov is a Fellow at the U.N. for the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (un.goarch.org).

The Archdiocese is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and has General Consultative Status under the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). It has been actively working at the United Nations for 30 years.

 

Talk About Depression

Depression is the world’s leading cause of disability and is felt in all countries, both poor and rich. In many ways, this indiscriminate impact makes it unique, however many continue to conceal it from those around them for fear of the stigma that often follows the condition. On this year’s occasion of World Health Day, we are called to embrace and empower those suffering around us to find the aid they need to overcome it.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Depression: Let’s Talk.”[1] Depression affects people in all walks of life and in all countries. Despite this ubiquity, acknowledgement of the disease, along with access to treatment remains elusive for many. Many believe depression is just a form fleeting sadness, effectively dismissing the severity of the condition and harmfulness that derives from it.

Depression is mentioned throughout the Bible and was discussed amongst the Church Fathers who were cognizant of its harmful propensities. We see in the Old Testament: “My eye has grown dim from grief, it grows weak because of all my foes.” (Job 17:7). St. Paul similarly references depression and its impact, articulating: “...worldly grief produces death.” (2 Cor. 7:10). Here, the death he speaks of concerns personal, family, and social death, along with spiritual death of the soul, which prevents God’s love from entering the heart.[2]

In ‘On the Eight Vices,’ St. John Cassian describes dejection, a concept similar to depression, as: obscuring the soul, keeping it from performing good works, preventing us from praying gladly and being gentle and compassionate towards our brethren. Additionally, it instills hatred in our hearts, leaving our soul senseless and paralyzed.[3] Likewise, the American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a condition which “negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act, ” including things such as feeling sad, lacking energy to complete daily tasks, feeling worthless, diminished interest in pleasure and increased proneness to agitation, and general difficulty in thinking or concentrating.[4] These characterizations demonstrate the existing mutuality between our present day medical understanding and the spiritual appreciation of the disease.

According to the World Health Organization (“WHO”), there are approximately 322 million people suffering from depression around the world, equivalent to about 5% of the total population and an increase of 18.4% over the past decade.[5]  It is the most common disability on the planet, with significant implications for both the individual suffering, as well as the loved ones around them.

Depression is most prevalent among elderly and adolescent populations, and its effects vary from decreased inability to complete daily tasks to suicide, all of which demonstrate the need for increased attention. The WHO has articulated that these conditions are mutually reinforcing. There are strong links between depression and other mental disorders/diseases, substance abuse, and physical diseases like heart disease.[6] The opposite is true as well, that most people suffering from aforementioned ailments are at a higher risk to become depressed.

Despite these known features, the problem persists. According to the WHO, the first step in tackling depression is acknowledging its existence. While at first glance this may seem simple, the truth is that many feel shameful or afraid to do so. The Church suggests a similar remedy. St. John Cassian argues: “Thus it is clear that our whole fight is against the passions within. Once these have been [eliminated] from our heart by the grace and help of God, we will readily be able to live...”[7]

The Church represents the healing Body of Christ, and through that we can fight this condition. Similarly, because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we can use our worldly intelligence and knowledge to better understand and treat the condition.[8]

For example, the Cognitive-Behavioral Model of Emotional Dysfunction describes how people’s perceptions of events affect their emotion.[9] According to this model, depression and depressive thoughts can be produced through irrational beliefs, attitudes, or thoughts based on the perception of or reaction to an event. Therefore, we become upset at the interpretation of events around us, rather than the situation itself.[10] Based on this model, we are able to adequately pinpoint the cause of concern, and treat it both pastorally and clinically, because how we react to events is easier to treat and control than the events themselves.

This is one of many studies conducted which studies the effects and causes of depression, as well as how to treat it. While not meant to be an exhaustive list, I hope to convey a sense of awareness that there is help out there for those who need it, both in the clinical world as well as in the Church. The two are not mutually exclusive, but as we have seen, they both acknowledge the problem, and aim to help those suffering. 

 

For more information on World Health Day and their yearlong campaign against depression, visit http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/

 

 

Anthony Balouris is a Fellow at the UN for the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (un.goarch.org)

The Archdiocese is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and has General Consultative Status under the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ESOSCO). It has been actively working at the UN for 30 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]http://www2.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12933%3Aworld-health-day-2017-depression&catid=8190%3Ageneral&Itemid=42252&lang=en

[2] http://www.antiochian.org/1141449331

[3] http://dormitionpgh.org/tidbits/eight_Vices_dejection.asp

[4] https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

[5] http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/prevalence_global_health_estimates/en/

[6] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/world-health-day/en/

[7] http://dormitionpgh.org/tidbits/eight_Vices_dejection.asp

[8] http://www.antiochian.org/1141449331

[9] https://www.beckinstitute.org/cognitive-model/

[10] http://www.antiochian.org/1141449331

“Sins Before Our Eyes: A Forum on Modern Slavery”—Dispatches from the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The problem of slavery, one of humanity’s greatest evils, remains with us today. The overt chattel form of slavery, which Christian abolitionists raged against in the nineteenth century, has all but disappeared, but new less visible forms of bondage and exploitation have arisen. In fact, one of the most severe abuses of human rights, modern slavery is a concealed crime that is a pervasive aspect of contemporary life, operating on a global scale.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recently became the international fulcrum for addressing the scourge of modern slavery. Under the auspices of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a global gathering, “Sins Before Our Eyes: A Forum on Modern Slavery,” took place in Istanbul, February 6-7, 2017. The result of an initiative by His All-Holiness Bartholomew and His Grace Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Primate of All England, launched during Bartholomew’s official Patriarchal visit to the Church of England’s Lamberth Palace in November 2015, the Forum brought together more than 70 distinguished scholars, religious leaders, government officials, non-governmental experts, and policymakers from across the globe.

Inasmuch as Orthodoxy—the living continuation of the Early Church—has always taught human dignity, personhood, and freedom as fundamental to Christian belief and practice, it is natural and fitting that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should champion the international cause of ending slavery in all its forms. These fundamental Orthodox convictions are affirmed by Saint Paul’s pronouncement that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). The Church Father, Saint, and Archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, described slavery as “the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery, the fruit of sin and of human rebellion against our true Father.”

As a Patriarchal successor to Chrysostom, Bartholomew continues in contemporary times the Orthodox Church’s unwavering commitment to universal freedom and human dignity. Moreover, His All-Holiness has consistently made clear through his own long, salient record of work and activism that the Church’s responsibility is to combine belief and practice, to actualize faith through the organic connection to action. Honoring the belief that religious leaders are obligated to speak out against social injustice and exploitation, Bartholomew, through the Patriarchate’s Forum on modern slavery, focused attention on an invisible, but wide-reaching crime against humanity.

The magnitude and pernicious effects of modern slavery are enormous. More people are enslaved today than at any other time in human history. The most authoritative research on this subject, produced by the Global Slavery Index, indicates that at present, almost 46 million people in over 160 countries are captive in some form of modern slavery. This shocking reality, however, is obscured by the continued emphasis on the race-based model of Colonial-era New World slavery, which ignores the shift to globalized contemporary slave practices and forms, and which promotes the modernist conceit that slavery was ended in the West with the American Civil War. The current manifestations of slavery, as systematically outlined and analyzed by several of the Patriarchal Forum’s presenters and discussants, are oftentimes subtler and, therefore, more subversive than past forms of open slavery. Examples of modern slavery include human smuggling and human trafficking, forced sex trafficking of children and adults, involuntary domestic servitude, forced labor, coercive bonded labor or debt bondage, abduction and forced conscription of children as soldiers, and the enslavement of children and women as spoils of war.

Although the enslaved today are predominantly associated with conflict zones in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, slavery in the twenty-first century is deeply rooted in many societies across the globe. India, for example, with 18.4 million people living in slavery, has the ignominious distinction of leading the world’s list of enslaved populations by country. China is second with 3.4 million, followed by Pakistan, which has more than 2.1 million enslaved people. Four other Asian countries each have enslaved populations that exceed one million. Leading the list of Middle Eastern countries are Egypt, Iran, and Turkey, each with roughly 500,000 people living in slavery. The undeniably globalized nature and networks of modern slavery implicates all countries, from developing countries to those in the developed West, as morally damaged and institutionally corrupted by the presence of enslaved human beings in the midst of these societies. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 58,000 people exist in conditions defined as slavery.

The international community has a mixed record in its response to the problem of modern slavery. While several states, especially those with strong civil societies and traditions of government accountability, enjoy good reputations for combatting modern slavery, many other states, in particular those with closed and authoritarian systems, are characterized by government complicity. With few exceptions, virtually all states and their corresponding media have demonstrated very little interest in addressing the problem of modern slavery. This general attitude of disinterest helps to explain public unawareness, misunderstanding, and indifference to the plight of the enslaved and to the conditions that fuel modern slavery. Finally, although the international community has to some extent evolved to identify the changing forms of slavery and has recognized its gross human rights abuses, it has failed, often despite good intentions, to establish effective enforcement mechanisms to fight slavery.

Through His All-Holiness’ widely recognized leadership in raising international awareness of and activism on environmental issues, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has demonstrated that the Orthodox Church provides both a global network, and a living theological commitment that can transcend geopolitical impediments and the limitations of states in tackling some of the world’s most serious problems. With this same characteristic understanding and vision, Bartholomew inspired and brought to fruition “Sins Before Our Eyes: A Forum on Modern Slavery.” Indeed, as in his seminal work on the environment, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has emphasized the unique transnational structural resources, capacity, and moral framework that enable the Orthodox Church to be a natural agent for change, emancipation, and healing when it comes to ending slavery in today’s world.

In His All-Holiness’ keynote address to the Forum on February 7, Bartholomew reflected on the immutable bonds between humanity’s stewardship of creation and the moral imperative to abolish slavery and protect human dignity: “We live in a world full of contradictions. Prosperity grows amidst famine; the struggle for peace and reconciliation is confronted with terrorism and the spread of hatred and religious fundamentalism; ecological movements coexist with technocracy and the deification of economic growth; the protection of human rights is confronted with social injustice and the lack of respect for human dignity as well as the phenomenon of modern slavery. This is precisely why we are convinced that responding to the problem of modern slavery is directly and inseparably linked to creation care, which has been at the very center of our patriarchal ministry over the last quarter century. The entire world is the body of Christ, just as human beings are the very body of Christ. The whole planet bears the traces of God, just as every person is created in the image of God. The way we respect creation reflects the way we respond to our fellow human beings. The scars that we inflict on our environment reveal our willingness to exploit our brother and sister.”

His Grace Archbishop of Canterbury Justin echoed and amplified Bartholomew’s insights. In His Grace’s address, Justin observed that slavery does not occur in isolation, that it is nourished by conflict, chaos, and the breakdown of rule of law, and that it persists because it remains a highly profitable criminal activity. Speaking to the decisive role played by Christian Churches historically and at present in providing relief to ravaged populations, Justin commented: “I am reminded that the Church, like no other organization, is there before, during, and after conflict. Churches in these situations find themselves in the front line in the battle against modern day slavery. We need to look at ways of strengthening the capacity of Churches in conflict and fragile states to provide compassionate and loving service to those at risk. We need to resource them to identify the telltale signs of slavery and to support them to challenge the stigma that many survivors experience.”

Emphasizing their unity of purpose, Bartholomew and Justin presented a Joint Declaration at the close of the Forum. The Declaration condemned “all forms of human enslavement as the most heinous of sins, inasmuch as it violates the free will and the integrity of every human being created in the image of God.” The Declaration detailed ways the Orthodox Church and the Church of England will collaborate in the battle against modern slavery. In addition to establishing a joint taskforce, the Declaration emphasized the importance of local, national, and global alliance building to widen the networks of public and private institutions that together can produce tangible responses to the problem of slavery.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew cast in sharp relief the path forward for confronting and defeating modern slavery: “How then can we face this crisis? How can we attempt to heal the wounds of our divided world? It is obvious that such a problem demands from us all immense mobilization, common action, common goals, strength and responsibility. Nobody—no state, no Church, no religion, neither science nor technology—can face the current challenges alone. We regard the worldwide crisis as an opportunity for building bridges, for openness and mutual trust. Our future is common and the way towards it is a common journey.”

The Orthodox Church can help light the path on which that common journey must unfold. Christian theology, Eastern and Western, proclaims that Christ came to free the oppressed, to end abominations to human dignity. Both Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin reminded us through “Sins Before Our Eyes: A Forum on Modern Slavery,” that theology is to be lived and transformed into action. In that way, we all have a responsibility to help break the chains of slavery that deny people their God-given freedom to experience dignity and the fullness of life.

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

Life, Not the Death Penalty

Last spring, I had the privilege of hearing oral arguments for a lethal injection case at the U.S. Supreme Court. Working as a television reporter in Washington, D.C. at the time, I had the station’s legal beat and occasionally found myself at the nation’s highest court.

 

In this case, inmates sentenced to death in Oklahoma were suing the state over its use of a drug called midazolam, the first administered as part of the state’s lethal injection protocol.

 

There was growing evidence that midazolam—which is meant to render a person unconscious before the painful drugs that actually stop the heart are injected—wasn’t doing its job. A man in Oklahoma and another in Arizona were seen gasping and writhing in pain during their respective executions.

 

The legal question was whether executions involving midazolam constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” violating the Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court wasn’t convinced, narrowly deciding (5-4) to uphold Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol.

 

The five justices who ruled in favor of the this iteration of the death penalty formed their opinions on legal grounds. I would argue that, perhaps, they were not formed on a moral or ethical ones.

 

However, the Orthodox Church—through several local Churches worldwide—has taken action to oppose it.

 

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken about the perversion of violence and hatred against other people in any form, including corporal punishment.

 

“How can [Jesus] support the death penalty for people’s wrongdoings, especially when He came to save the lost, and desires ‘that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth?’” Patriarch Bartholomew said during a 2013 speech at an ecumencal gathering in Espoo, Finland. “How can life possibly embrace death?”

 

The Moscow Patriarchate has also encouraged mercy over lethal punishment, noting that the abolition of the death penalty provides more opportunities both for the Church to engage in pastoral work and for those who have committed crimes to repent.

 

“Today, many states have either abolished the death penalty by law or stopped practicing it,” the Russian Church’s document on the basis of the social concept states. “Keeping in mind that mercy toward a fallen man is always more preferable than revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities.”

 

Fortunately, 82 percent of countries have either introduced moratoria on the death penalty by law or in practice or have abolished it entirely.

 

Here in the U.S., where the practice is still legal in most states and in the federal government, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos has worked extensively to put an end to the death penalty, having served twice as president of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty before it was finally banned there in 2011.

 

Like virtually all contemporary social issues, this one is vastly complicated and riddled with nuance. But the data and research overwhelmingly paint a picture of a death penalty that doesn’t really work.

 

Death penalty convictions are often based on the race of the accused and of the victims, inmates are frequently removed from death row after evidence is found of their innocence, claims that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder are flawed, and enforcing the death penalty costs taxpayers millions of dollars more than it would to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison.

 

When basing a decision in the supreme value of human life and the virtue of mercy, it becomes even more obvious that the death penalty should be discarded.

 

If your justification for opposing abortion is a personal commitment to champion life, why let the death penalty slide? Surely, “pro-life” has to actually mean “pro-life.”

 

Remember that Christ Himself prevented the legal execution of a woman (John 8:3-11), saying “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

 

World Day Against the Death Penalty is marked every year on Oct. 10.

 

Andrew Romanov is a Fellow at the UN for the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (un.goarch.org).

 

The Archdiocese is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and has General Consultative Status under the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). It has been actively working at the United Nations for 30 years.

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