Dialogue with Islam Is Possible, Says Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum

5,000 Baptized Annually in Sudan Despite Islamization Campaign

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ROME, OCT. 8, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Dialogue with Islam «is difficult» but it must be undertaken, says Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum.

He should know the need of dialogue: For decades, Sudan has been engaged in a campaign of forced Islamization of Christian and animist citizens.

The war between the government and the rebels in the south has caused more than 2 million deaths over the past decades.

In statements published in the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Bishop Adwok said: «We distinguish between two types of dialogue. In the first place, with the authorities, stating before them that we exist as a Church, as a people, and as citizens who must be respected as we are.»

«In the second place, we promote the dialogue of life, which is the most frequent,» he added. «In neighborhoods where Christians live with Muslims, they exchange values and visit one another. Dialogue exists at that level but, unfortunately, it is not taken advantage of, either by the government or the ecclesiastical institutions.»

The bishop said the Church is allowed to preach in Sudan.

«For example, every year, in my Archdiocese of Khartoum, we admit more than 5,000 people, youths and adults, to the sacrament of baptism,» he said.

However, the bishop added, «it must be remembered that the government is on the alert to impede the Church from being extended, being rooted and becoming strong.»

«They think the Church should be transitory, that it will pass with time, as former churches disappeared in Sudan, for example, the Christian church of Nubia,» Bishop Adwok said. «They do not give us permits to build churches or have houses as ecclesiastical property. However, as a people, the Church is alive and strong.»

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