|Orthodox churches call for inter-religious dialogue|
|Inter-religious relations and dialogue, in addition to inter-church collaboration, was the summons of the sixth meeting of the heads of the Oriental Orthodox churches in the Middle East.
Shenouda III, pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark, Mar Ignatius Zakka I, patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Aram I, catholicos of the Armenians of the Great House of Cilicia met at the Armenian Catholicosat in Antelias on Oct. 17-18 within the framework of the fellowship they initiated in 1998.
The participants reconfirmed the churches’ constant and existential dialogue with Islam, saying the dialogue of life, based on mutual understanding, trust and respect, must be kept alive and continued with renewed emphasis and broader perspectives.
The heads of the Coptic, Syrian and Armenian Orthodox churches highlighted their roles in all major initiatives, processes and actions aiming for greater justice, peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
The three heads called on Israel to implement all UN Security Council resolutions and withdraw from occupied Arab territories, including the Shebaa Farms, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
They called on all occupying forces to leave Iraq to allow for the nation-building process, and said that rebuilding Iraq required the participation of all ethnic and religious communities. Iraq must once again become an independent and sovereign nation, they said.
The meeting also appealed to the Oriental Christian communities living in different parts of the world to remain firmly attached to their native lands by supporting all initiatives and actions promoting justice and peace in the Middle East.
They condemned all forms and expressions of violence in the region and everywhere else in the world.
Religion, in its proper understanding, was a promoter of love and reconciliation, peace and justice, they said, urging all those in conflict to resolve their problems through dialogue and mutual understanding.
Beirut,10 27 2003
Ara Alain Arzoumanian
The Daily Star