– What about interreligious dialogue? –
“With Islam, there can be no theological dialogue, because the essential foundations of the Christian faith are very different from those of the Muslims: the Trinity, the Incarnation, namely, the fact that ‘Jesus Christ has come [among us] in the flesh’ (1 Jn 4:1-10), the Cross, the death and Resurrection of Jesus, and consequently the Eucharist are rejected by Muslims. But we can promote a dialogue that might lead to an effective collaboration at the national and international level, particularly in the context of defending human life, from conception to natural death. For example, like the Church, the various authorities of Islam vehemently reject new gender ideology.
However, in Africa, with different accents depending on the country, for instance, Sudan, Kenya, or Nigeria, to mention a few, Christian-Muslim relations have recently become very difficult, almost impossible; in Sudan, a Christian is considered a slave by the Muslims. My remarks, however, ought to be nuanced; generally speaking, relations between Christians and Muslims, at least in West Africa, have always been harmonious and quite friendly.
But in the countries that were the cradle of Christianity, in the Near East and the Middle East, it distresses me to see the development of the relations between the different religious communities. In Iraq, for example, the results of Western and American policies are catastrophic for the Christians, who are being driven by Muslim extremists from the lands that their forefathers occupied since time immemorial. In the Syrian refugee camps that visited, set up in Lebanon or in Jordan, how can one not be struck by the profound misfortune of the Christians who are condemned to a diaspora that will not speak its name? I heard the Syrian bishops, during our meeting in December 2013 in Beirut, voice their suffering and their fear that one day the Middle East will be devoid of any Christian presence. Their communities are undergoing considerable trials and are experiencing a demographic decline that is so significant that the future of Christianity in its cradle of origin is thereby threatened. According to leaders of the Churches of various rites, the exodus of Christians has reached alarming proportions. Given the uncertainty that weighs heavily on their life as baptized believers, the kidnapping or assassination of priests, brothers, and nuns, and of bishops too, Christians easily give in to the temptation to emigrate – when they are not brutally driven from their homes, as have been the case in Iraq since the violent American military invasion in 2003.
I would like to report the anguished cry of a great pastor, Archbishop Basil Casmoussa, archbishop of the Syriac Catholics of Mosul, who during the Special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in October 2010 deplored ‘ the unjust accusation against Christians of being troops hired or led by and for the so-called Christian West and thus considered as a parasitical body in the nation’. Continuing his speech, he added that Christians were ‘present and active here well before Islam, [but now] they feel undesired in their own home, which becomes more and more a Dar el-Islam [a house of Islam]…. The Eastern Christian in Islamic countries is condemned be it to disappear or to go into exile. What is happening in Iraq today makes us think back to what happened in Turkey during the First World War. It is alarming!” This suffering of our brethren in faith breaks our heart and invites us to prayer and communion with the Churches of the Middle East, which today, to borrow the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, are ‘God’s wheat, ground by the teeth of beasts, that [they] may become the pure bread of Christ’. Yes, I can say emphatically that some Western powers will have perpetrated, directly or symbolically, a crime against humanity.”
– Cardinal Robert Sarah, God or Nothing –
– Lucas G. Westman