Pope John Paul II received the Letters of Credence of Nevine Simaika Halim Abadia, new ambassador of Egypt to the Holy See on Saturday and spoke of the role of religion in the creation of a culture of peace and the importance of inter-religious dialogue.
"As the Holy See continues to repeat in this turbulent age," said the Pope, "there can only be lasting peace in international relations when the desire for dialogue prevails over the logic of confrontation.”
“Whether this is in Iraq, where a return to civil peace seems so difficult to establish, or the Holy Land, unfortunately marred by an endless conflict that is fuelled by hatred and a reciprocal desire for vengeance or in other countries where terrorism has so cruelly struck the innocent, everywhere violence reveals its horror and its incapacity to resolve conflicts,” he continued.
“Once again,” stressed the Holy Father, “I remind the international community of its responsibilities to promote a return to reason and negotiation, the only possible solution for conflicts among human beings.”
The Holy Father then spoke about "the specific role in relations among nations" that Egypt occupies due to its culture, political tradition and strategic geographic position.
Citing the new ambassador's speech about the responsibilities of the State toward its citizens, the Pope recalled that one of them was "to guarantee equality of all before the law, as you said, referring to the role of women in Egyptian society, and to promote mutual respect and understanding among the different components of the Nations."
In building up peace, continued the Pope, religions play an important role. "They promote teachings that honor life as a sacred gift from God that man must respect and cherish. ... For this reason, they are called to denounce and reject violence as something contrary to its purpose which is to reconcile human beings with each other and with God.
Since the education of children and young people often falls within their jurisdiction, religions have an important responsibility to assume in the content of their teaching so that sectarian approaches are fought and rejected and, on the contrary, everything that allows for deeper discovery and respect for others is developed and encouraged."
John Paul II also recalled that the presence in Egypt of the University Al-Azhar "which plays an essential role in the Muslim world, is an opportunity for the continuation and the intensification of inter-religious dialogue, especially among Christians and Muslims." In this regard, the Pope affirmed that in addition to meetings of religious leaders it "is equally useful to stimulate respect for and desire of mutual knowledge on the level of people and communities of believers in cities and towns."
Lastly, the Holy Father greeted "the pastors and faithful of different rites that make up the Catholic community in Egypt. I would like all the faithful to be concerned with developing fraternal and constructive relations, putting together their specific richness and rendering homage to Catholic unity."