11/06/2015, 00.00
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Middle East Council of Churches appeals for pluralism and interreligious dialogue

by Fady Noun
Meeting at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Centre in Cairo, MECC leaders addressed Arab and Muslim heads of state and political and religious leaders. Pluralism, they say, is "one of the most precious treasures of the East." They called for prayers for peace, an end to anti-Christian persecution, the election of Lebanon’s president and a solution to the Palestinian cause.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – At a meeting held at the Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Centre in Cairo, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) called on "Arab and Muslim heads of state and religious and political leaders in the world to work for the preservation of religious pluralism," saying that it is" the most precious treasure of the East." They also called for action against "the forces of darkness, destruction and extremism."

Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Catholicos Aram I, Syrian Catholic Patriarch Theophilos III, Lutheran Church in the Holy Land president Youssef III Younan, Munib Younan, and MECC working team were present at the meeting.

In its final communiqué, the Council said  that its agenda included "various activities in the regions, commissions and programmes; the situation of refugees and populations forced to leave by the circumstances they face in the Middle East as well as the situation of Churches and dioceses in Syria and Iraq, particularly in the areas emptied of their Christian populations, a difficult situation that has overwhelmed them.”

The MECC, the communiqué said, discussed in particular "the Christian presence in the East as well as outflows, abductions and persecution to which Christians are exposed”. It called on “Arab and Muslim heads of state and political and religious leaders in the world to work for the preservation of religious pluralism because it is the most precious treasure of the East and has characterised the Christian and Muslim civilisation."

The statement goes on to say that the Council "expresses its thanks to all the Middle East states that have taken it upon themselves to welcome families evicted from their homes, provided them with what they need, in particular, schooling for their children."

With respect to Lebanon, the MECC called for the election of the country’s president "because of the important role this country plays, especially since it is the only country allotted to Christians in Asia."

The Council pleaded for the unification of the Easter date, and noted that Islamic-Christian interfaith dialogue is "the essential pillar of relations with our partners and compatriots." Participants also thanked Pope Francis for the attention he gives to the region’s Christians.

At the end of the meeting, the Council members prayed for the end of the war in Syria and Iraq; for peace in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem; for a just settlement to the Palestinian cause; for the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide; and for the end of Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus.

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