Bishop Andraos SALAMA 
(Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt)

On behalf of the Catholic hierarchy of Egypt to speak about dialogue in the light of Egyptian experience. I find the text of Instrumentum Laboris, chapt. 3, an excellent text. I am just going to underline from a personal experience some difficulties inherent in interreligious dialogue.

As. Apart from common elements, religions mutually exclude each other, some of us prefer to speak about dialogue among cultures. Does that not lead us to specify what is the right interreligious dialogue with its horizons and limits?

Other difficulties:

a) lack of reciprocity in the desire to achieve this.

b) the great deviation in social and cultural evolution of partners in the dialogue.

No. 94 of Instrumentum Laboris invites us to have faith, pray and have patience.

If interreligious dialogue, although it is necessary, has difficulties, witness of life in the love of God and of one's neighbour is understood and accepted by everybody.

Inspired and strengthened by the perfect and total gift of the love of Christ and his spoliation "kenosis", we can overcome all difficulties among men and achieve dialogue or better still the desired meeting.

With the Orthodox Copts, our brothers (about 8 million in Egypt), we have no intention to carry out proselytism, we have no intention to create emulation or rivalry, but on the contrary service in authentic love. We are trying to implement the prayer of our Lord: "That they may be one so that the world may believe this". To convince them, we must double our prayers, and try to love them still more deeply.

With the Muslims, we have been living over the centuries a dialogue of daily life but recently we have experienced a wave of extremist Islamization mixed with violence and terrorism, inspired by politics rather than moderate governments, as well as against Christians, foreigners and tourists. Meanwhile it seems that Muslim renovators want to modernise Islam, the extremists want to islamise modernity. Certain extremist plans even aim at - we would say - conquering the world by a strategy having short means and on a long term basis.

This does not frighten us, we know that our Lord is with his Church, we know that is not real Islam, and that most Muslims - if not all of them - disapprove violence and terrorism, and that many among the cultured ones try to study in depth their religion and understand their texts better in view of better co-operation and understanding among believers in the whole world.

To conclude, let's oppose love to hate, let's strengthen the faith of our faithful by the witness of their life, and their love, they will conquer the world with Jesus Christ. We believe in man, because God believed in him to build a new world.

Original text: French


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