This conference is the second organised this year by Al-Azhar on a new international and interfaith platform.
The first such, with the very significant title Religious Freedom: citizenship, diversity and integration, had been held from 28 February to 1 March 2017. My talk at that conference was published in the conference acts, but I further outlined my ideas in a dozen interviews in various media outlets.
Christian and Muslim faith leaders, scholars and political figures were invited to both conferences.
Talks were given by Eastern and Western Christian and Muslim international figures from the Arab world, Asia, Africa and Europe; these were not only in Arabic, but also in English, French and Italian.
Topics dealt with have examined the various aspects of peace: challenges to peace; religion and the misinterpretation of peace; poverty, sickness and peace; the culture of peace and the impact of religions; reality and hope.
Important figures have been participating in the current conference: Coptic, Greek Orthodox and Melkite patriarchs of Alexandria, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, bishops and imams from Egypt, Iraq and other Arab countries of Africa and Asia.
Mutual respect, acceptance of others and frankness characterised the grand opening.
The present congress is a further step, a step forward, an opening, a note of hope…More respect, mutual recognition, and the desire to go forward.
A successful congress!
The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis has given added value to the significance of the current conference. He has come at God’s time (God’s kairos) for peace, dialogue and openness, solidarity, understanding, co-ordination, co-operation, optimism, for all us Christians and Muslims in Egypt and the world.
Thank you, Holy Father!
Thank you, Al-Azhar!
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and Jerusalem