Dialog er det viktigste temaet på pavens første dager i Egypt

Proposals To Discuss Ways of Exercising Bishop of Rome's Ministry

VATICAN CITY, FEB 25 (ZENIT).- The first visit of a Roman Pontiff to Egypt has come to be a trip of alliance, not only because John Paul II came to the land of the Pharaohs to visit the Mount of the Ten Commandments, but also because of the great papal events in Cairo, which have centered on the alliance among men, the dialogue between Islam and Christianity, as well as among Christians themselves, separated by different confessions.

One of those symbolic moments that characterizes the Holy Father's international trips took place this afternoon: the ecumenical meeting in the new Cathedral of Our Lady of Egypt in Cairo. All the leaders of non-Catholic Christian Churches in Egypt were present together with the Holy Father. They were led by Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox, the most numerous Christian confession in the country. Of the 6 million Christians in Egypt, the vast majority belong to the Orthodox Church, successor to the See of Alexandria, which separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Catholics barely number 200,000.

Given that one of the arguments that continues to separate Catholics and Orthodox is the idea of papal primacy, John Paul II spoke very clearly and directly on this issue. "I repeat what I wrote in my Encyclical Letter 'Ut Unum Sint,' that whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. I therefore wish to renew the invitation to all 'Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for his Church.' "

Thus the Pontiff put forward once again the idea of seriously discussing the way in which papal primacy is exercised. "With regard to the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, I ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light upon us, enlightening all the Pastors and theologians of our Churches, that we may seek together the forms in which this ministry may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned. Dear Brothers, there is no time to lose in this regard!

His exhortation became more urgent when shortly before ending the meeting, he spontaneously expressed this wish: "May the Spirit of God soon grant us the complete and visible unity for which we yearn!"

Meeting with the Coptic Orthodox Leader Yesterday John Paul II visited the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox patriarchy where he received a very warm welcome. In the presence of a large representation from this Christian community, Pope Shenouda, successor of St. Mark in the See of Alexandria, addressed Peter's successor spontaneously and affectionately, imbued with the profound spirituality that characterizes the faith of the Egyptian Church, which is almost 2000 years old. Shenouda III recalled his meeting with Pope Paul VI in 1973 and the joint doctrinal declaration they signed on that occasion: a great step on the ecumenical road that at the time was not accepted by all the leaders of the Coptic Church.

John Paul II also improvised his reply. With a smile he said that all those who came with him to Egypt feel at home, since Mark wrote his Gospel for the Romans. After travelling with St. Paul for a time, Mark came to serve Peter. Many say that his Gospel represents primarily the memories of the first Pope.

Meeting with Grand Imam Another key moment in the dialogue the Pope brought to Egypt took place yesterday afternoon when the Holy Father visited Al-Azhar University . For years Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, has cultivated excellent relations with this cultural focal point of Islam. The cordiality of Grand Imam Mohammed Sayed Tantawi was no pretense. His affirmation of the value of tolerance in Islam, and his proposal for collaboration among the believers of religions to foster peace and understanding among men, are a hope for all those who believe that the great conflicts of the future will take place between Islam and the West. Al-Azhar is the highest cultural and religious authority of Sunni Islam and, yesterday, he declared himself clearly against Islamic fundamentalism.

Zenit - The World Seen From Rome

av Webmaster publisert 05.03.2000, sist endret 05.03.2000 - 12:25