Church leaders call for respect of human rights
By Mahmoud Al Abed
AMMAN — Middle East Church leaders on Friday commended Muslim-Christian coexistence in Jordan and called on churches to work for “peace and justice in the region.”
At the end of their two-day meeting, representatives of 35 churches in the Middle East called on the world to bring an end to the wave of immigration “of Muslims and Christians” from Palestine and Iraq; for respect of human rights and further work on interfaith dialogue.
The statement was made at the conclusion of the closed-door meetings of the executive committee of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) at the Dead Sea, presided over by Coptic Pope Shenouda III of Egypt.
The MECC took a firm stand against the US-led war on Iraq. “A military offensive will leave behind ruin and a shattered country. Chaos will ensue,” a council statement prior to the 2003 invasion, said.
During the UN sanctions on the country before the war, the council had provided ecumenical relief services in Iraq, becoming a channel for international relief and reconstruction.
MECC Amman office Director Wafa F. Goussous said the council has also supplied Iraq war refugees on the Jordan-Iraq border with their daily needs of food and other essentials in coopretation with a local Islamic charity.
Earlier Friday, the Coptic pontiff paid a visit to the Baptism Site in the Jordan Valley, which was seen as a gesture of recognition by the Coptic Christians of the authenticity of the site where Christ was baptised two millenniums ago.
Yesterday, Pope Shenouda laid the cornerstone of St. Antonius Monastery in Madaba and is scheduled to inaugurate the Coptic Church in Abdali today, before heading home. The Coptic congregation in Jordan is estimated at 8,000, the majority of whom are Coptic Egyptian expatriates, in addition to Jordanian and Palestinian Coptic families whose origins go back to Egypt.
The Coptic Church is based on the teachings of Saint Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero in the first century AD.
The MECC executive committee comprises 24 members, in addition to the four elected presidents of “families” or sects represented in the council. The council describes itself as “a fellowship of churches relating itself to the mainstream of the modern ecumenical movement.”
Sunday, June 5, 2005