President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to the heads of the Eastern Churches: Christian Brothers in all Arab Countries Are an Integral Part of the Fabric of Arab Society
The Middle East Council of Churches continues its 12th General Assembly today, Tuesday 17 May 2022, under the title “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14: 27), held at the Papal Logos Center in Wadi El Natrun in Egypt, with the generous hospitality of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. On the second day, the participants discussed the reality of the Christian presence in the Middle East and the most prominent threats to its existence, stressing the importance of their role in the region.
The second day was marked by the reception of the heads of the churches of the Middle East participating in the General Assembly by the President of the Egyptian Republic, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, at the Heliopolis Palace. According to the official spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic, the President welcomed the attendees in light of the convening of the General Assembly for the first time in Egypt since the establishment of the Council in 1974, emphasizing that the Christian brothers in all Arab countries are an integral part of the fabric of Arab society.
The President added that “citizenship and equal rights for all are fixed values that represent the approach of the Egyptian state towards all citizens. This is what the state establishes through actual and real practices in all aspects of life in Egypt to maximize those human values of peace, love, non-discrimination on any grounds whatsoever and to disseminate the culture of pluralism and freedom of religion, and in return to combat intolerance and extremism.” His Excellency stressed that this is the strategic direction of the Egyptian state, irrespective of any specific time period.
The press release added: ”In turn, the participants in the meeting expressed their delight in visiting Egypt and their honor in meeting the President, noting the country’s valuable contributions to human history and its quest for peace, as well as the importance of Egypt’s role in the Middle East, and appreciating its efforts under the leadership of the President to reach settlements to the urgent and complex problems facing the region, which cause great human suffering, emphasizing their support for Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism and extremist ideology, as well as achieving development, construction and reconstruction in Egypt and the entire Middle East.”
Furthermore, the official spokesperson stated that during the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance various aspects of the relations between Egypt and the Middle East Council of Churches, in particular those related to efforts to support dialogue and citizenship, and to reject extremism and intransigence in various countries of the region.
The President also reviewed the restoration that had taken place in many of Egypt’s archaeological Christian monuments, sites and churches replete with unique historical manuscripts and icons, as well as the project to revive the path of the Holy Family, all within the framework of the interest in protecting Egyptian Christian heritage.
On the second day, the guests of the General Assembly, Bishops at the head of delegations from their churches, members of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches, experts, and partners of the Council participated in a tour of the Papal Logos Center and its various institutions, during which they learned about its foundation and its ancient symbolism.
As for the second day’s session, it was chaired by His Excellency R. Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, President of the National Evangelical Union in Lebanon and President of the Council for the Evangelical Family, to commence with an opening Prayer and biblical meditation with the Evangelical family. Afterwards, the quorum was ascertained, the committees were nominated, and the credentials, nomination, management, and drafting papers were determined.
A plenary session was held on the title of the assembly “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27), during which Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of the Evangelical Churches in Egypt, gave a theological lecture full of hope on the dimensions of this topic, especially in light of the challenges facing Christians in the region.
Mr. Ibrahim Maroun, Professor of Economics, Economic Sociology, and Financial Management, also gave a social, economic and geopolitical lecture entitled “The Demography of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, Between the Beginning of the Twentieth Century and the Second Decade of the Twenty-first Century.”
At the end of the session, the Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches, Dr. Michel Abs presented two honorary shields for Reverend Andre Zaki and Professor Ibrahim Maroun as a token of appreciation and thanks for their contribution to the work of the General Assembly. This was followed by a discussion and questions about what each speaker put forward.
The second day of this ecumenical event concluded with a prayer with the evangelical family, after which the participants headed to the meetings of their ecclesial families, the meeting of the committees, and the final communiqué drafting committee.