Coat of Arms

Melkite Greek Catholic
PATRIARCHATE
of Antioch and All the East
of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

Speech of H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III

during the Special Assembly for the Middle East

of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, 10-24 October 2010

 

Islamic-Christian Dialogue

From the early period of his pontificate, during his first apostolic visit to Germany and his meeting with young Muslims in Cologne, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has underlined the importance of Islamic-Christian dialogue, in the same way as did Vatican II.

The experience of our Churches shows us that this dialogue is necessary and vital, and of course that it is possible, contrary to what some are saying.

This dialogue is taking place on two very distinct levels. There is the properly doctrinal and intellectual level, that can be found for example in the regular meetings of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the University of Al Azharor in the teaching and publications of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) and other study centres in several of our countries. Then there is the existential level, that of the everyday life of our faithful living in Muslim majority countries.

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue is familiar with and encourages the centres, groups, institutions and initiatives of Christian inspiration which practise and favour this dialogue, in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jerusalem, Jordan and Iraq.

It is important to point out, since this fact is virtually unknown outside the Middle East, that there are also dialogue initiatives of Islamic inspiration, mainly in Jordan, but also in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar and Turkey.

This existential dialogue is that of everyday life in society, in its different aspects and various dimensions: exchanging good wishes for the major feasts of both religions, neighbourly relation in cities from which formerly completely Christian districts have by now vanished, professional relations and relations in schools and universities attended by Christians and Muslims. This dialogue is going on in all our countries, except Saudi Arabia, the only country in the region where Christianity is still outlawed.

The pursuit of this dialogue is therefore an element of great weight to slow the emigration of Christians. If they disappear from the region, what would become of this dialogue, equally important for preventing a conflict between a predominantly Muslim Middle East and a reputedly Christian West?

This Synodal Assembly ought therefore explicitly to encourage the pursuit of this dialogue, at all levels.

Gregorios III

Patriarch

19 September 2010

Translation from French: V. Chamberlain


Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Abbot Macarius was asked: "How should I pray?" The staretz answered: "There is no need to waste time with words; it is enough to hold out your hands and say: 'Lord, have mercy.'  If you are hard pressed in the struggle, say: 'Lord, save me!' He knows what is best for you, and he will have mercy on you."

Abbot Macarius, quoted in St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, Meyendorff, 1974, SVS Press