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Lebanese prelates caution Synod on problems of dialogue with Islam

Catholic World News - October 22, 2010

Two Lebanese Catholic prelates questioned the feasibility of dialogue with Islam during discussions on October 21 at the Synod of Bishops.

Commenting on propositions advocating inter-religious dialogue, Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavien Joseph Melki of Dara, Lebanon questioned whether the suggestions were realistic:

Is it even thinkable that the Arabic countries of the Middle East, where fundamentalism is becoming more entrenched, will accept in the near future abandoning their theocratic regimes founded on the Koran and the Sharia, which constitute flagrant discrimination towards non-Muslims? To me this seems to be in the domain of utopia, for the centuries to come.

Archbishop Raboula Antoine Beylouni, also a Syrian-Catholic prelate from Lebanon, raised similar questions. Because the Muslim believes that the Qu’ran offers the absolute and complete truth, the archbishop said, “he comes to dialogue with a sense of superiority.” More ominously, he continued, the Qu’ran “commands the imposition of religion through force—with the sword.” As a result, the archbishop said, Muslims are unlikely to recognize religious freedom.

Archbishop Beylouni offered a practical suggestion for efforts at dialogue with Islam. Because the Qu’ran treats the Virgin Mary with great reverence, he said, “we should turn to her for all dialogue and all encounters with the Muslims.” He concluded his remarks with a reference to one very significant inter-faith agreement in his own country: “If it pleased God that the Feast of the Annunciation was declared a national feast day in Lebanon for Christians and Muslims, may it also become a national feast day in other Arab countries.”

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Oct. 23, 2010 10:00 PM ET USA

    One only has to ask those Catholics who have immigrated to the U.S. from the area to know how Catholics and other religions are treated. Their stories clearly explain why and how the Arabs treat non-Islamic faiths. Unfortunately too, there seem to be many clergy who identify more with being Palestinian than being Catholic; small wonder that Bethlehem is virtually Christian-free.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 22, 2010 8:07 PM ET USA

    The two prelates seem to see it rightly. Historically Islam has not been the religion of "peace" and "tolerance" that so many wish it to be and yet, if any "dialogue" is to happen it must rest on Mary since the Koran repudiates both the Divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity. As for me I think dialogue is useless for the most part. Islam and the West have been at each others throats for centuries. The secular West seems to have forgotten that only because it no longer feels tied to its own past

  • Posted by: porcini - Oct. 22, 2010 8:03 PM ET USA

    We don't need a dialogue, we need a Rosary Crusade (oops) a Rosary Appeal.

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