"Is Christ divided?" under this slogan an important symposium calling for the need for unity among the different churches in Egypt, was held on Friday, February 6, in Shubra, Cairo.
The symposium which was organized by Reverend Refaat Saeed, of the Evangelical Church in Cairo, was attended by representatives of the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Egypt.
Reverend Saeed believes it is imperative for Christians to participate in the political life and integrate in the Egyptian society, and claim their full rights; because a strong enemy and a great challenge now face them.
This ruthless enemy which wants to devour them, is the danger of the religion State, he commented.
He called for the unity of the intellectual Christians to defend their citizenship rights ‘until their last breathe’, and to renounce all differences before it is too late.
Reverend Saeed emphasized that Christ was not divided, but the problem lies with those who sow hatred and intolerance towards the other, and the lack of proper understanding of the words and teachings of Christ, which leads to discord and division.
"Ignorant fanatics create Christianity different to the Christianity according to the purpose of Christ. Mistaken is he, who thinks he can live alone in this world, and mistaken is he, who thinks he alone knows God", he said "The fanatic is he who thinks that he is the only one saved from hell, and the rest of God’s creation, including Christians from the other denominations will go to the Eternal Fire!!
Stressing that arrogance and intolerance against others leads to division, he said: "the Church of Christ is one, our faith is one, but there is a difference in practice, and this difference does not mean division, but diversity. He called for unity between the churches, to implement the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Father Sawieres Boshra, priest at the Coptic Orthodox Church of Abu Seifein, Pyramids, stressed on the importance of unity among churches, saying that there is no division between them, but only a difference of opinion and in rituals, because all denominations have one faith. He added that even the Creed set down by the forefathers, led by the Coptic Orthodox St. Athanasius, namely the Nicene Creed, is one, and which is recited today by Catholics, Evangelicals and Orthodox Christians alike.
He asserted that presently there are variations and differences, but not a division. He praised the role of the leaders of the Churches in Egypt by calling for the unity of the Church, stressing that this unity is based primarily on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. He also called on activating this unity at the individual level, and to remove the idea of division from the hearts and minds, stressing his opposition to the term "division".
For his part, Father Boulos Garas, priest at the Coptic Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady, in Nasr City,Greater Cairo, talked on the importance of accepting the ‘other’, because without the ‘other’, there can be no human existence, and the basis of Christianity is that we are all ‘one’.
According to him, moving against unity is going against the Will of God and is a reverse in the course of history.
He emphasized that Jesus Christ came to explain to us, God’s Mind about unity by: "I came so that they may be one", comparing the seriousness of the present situation to someone hammering at the unity, which Christ called for.
Father Garas said that those who want to walk in the path of God, has to move in the direction of unity, and warned of contempt for others and a sense of superiority or the belief that he has the best faith in comparison to other denominations.
He commented that Pope Shenouda III in one of his meetings with the Catholic Church confirmed that all the churches are one.
Mr. Tharwat Samuel Editor-in-chief of the independent Egyptian newspapers, the ‘Way and the Rights’ said that the time has now come for unity among the churches, especially that what brings churches together, is far more than what divides them.
Samuel said that some look upon this unity with fear, and consider it illusionary. However, he believes in the possibility of this unity, albeit with effort, due to the many obstructions in the way.
He pointed out that unity among churches never mean that one would to give up one’s belief, doctrine, church or way of worship, because unity can possibly exist in spite of all these differences. According to him, the Church is ultimately the Body of Christ, which although having many different members, they all complement each other.
This artcilce was translated into English by Voice of the Copts.