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» 06/10/2005
JORDAN
'Agreement and harmony' among Eastern Christians, say Orthodox Copts
by Youssef Hourany
Interview with Pope Shenouda III: the dialogue with Catholics, which is stalled over the Petrine primacy, must be renewed. Christians' flight from the Middle East is worrisome. Church property belongs to the faithful and cannot be sold.

Amman (AsiaNews) – Eastern Christians are in "agreement and harmony"; dialogue among them must continue and be based on mutual trust. This is what Pope Shenouda III, head of the world's Orthodox Copts, told AsiaNews in an interview in which he spoke about the dialogue with the Catholic Church, which the primacy of the Bishop of Rome has made difficult but which he hopes can be renewed during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Pope Shenouda III, who is in Amman (Jordan) for the Ecumenical Council of Churches of the region, is head of the world's more than 10 million Orthodox Copts, especially those of Egypt.

He said that "inter-faith dialogue in the Arab region is not a condition for the religions' survival because agreement and harmony [already] reigns among their religious leaders".

"Dialogue must be based on mutual trust among all religious components of the Arab world, including Catholics," he added, "but not with the 'Jews'. Not until Jerusalem is freed from the Israeli presence will the Orthodox Coptic Church go there".

Answering a question about developments in Israel after the sale of Church property by former Patriarch Ireneos to Israeli interests, Shenouda said he "firmly condemned these unjust acts because Church properties belong to the faithful, not the leaders."

The leader of the world's Orthodox Copts calls on Christian religious leaders not to sell their properties which remain the only guarantee for a Christian presence in the Middle East.

Shenouda III is notably concerned about the future of Christians in the region because of the worryingly "high flow of Eastern Christians towards the West and the region's ongoing difficult situation." Still, he says "we must place our hopes in the Lord of History, Guardian of His people".

Pope Shenouda III said that the ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church, which began in 1973 after the Second Vatican Council when he undertook his historic visit to the Vatican where he signed a joint declaration with then Pope Paul VI, is currently stalled over theological and dogmatic issues.

"The major stumbling block in the ecumenical dialogue remains the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. It prevents any further development with the Eastern Churches because Jesus Christ did not choose a single successor but gave this power to single Churches," he explained. In his view, the leaders of all the Eastern Churches are successors to Jesus Christ.

Pope Shenouda III did however express his Church's satisfaction over the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who, he said, has shown himself very open to inter-faith dialogue.

For this reason, he is calling on the Catholic Church not to interrupt discussing issues of common interest.

Finally, he said he was confident that the young constitute "the springtime of the Church". Consequently, he announced the creation of a unit devoted to the young within Orthodox Coptic Patriarchate. It is the first time that is done and the new body is chaired by a very young bishop.

"We want to follow the young and lead them onto the right path," he said. "This is an urgent commandment in this day and age if we are to protect them from evil's influence".


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See also
04/20/2009 MIDDLE EAST
Despite some difficulties Orthodox Easter joyfully celebrated across the Middle East
01/19/2010 VATICAN-MIDDLE EAST
Churches of the Middle East: witnesses of Jesus in a world with more shadows than lights
11/24/2008 VATICAN
Pope: saddened and concerned over situation in Lebanon and entire Middle East
02/03/2005 MIDDLE EAST – USA
Peace, not "conflict management", the goal for Middle East
by David-Maria A. Jaeger*
10/24/2005 ISLAM - EGYPT
"Forget violence, foreign to our heritage," say Coptic and Muslim leaders
by Jihad Issa

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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