Archbishop Absi: Muslims Do Not Distinguish Christians from the West

Syrian Prelate Calls on Synod to Focuses Intervention on Evangelization in Muslim Countries

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2012 ( Archbishop Joseph Absi, Titular Archbishop of Tarsus of the Greek-Melkites in Syria, called on participants of the Synod of Bishops to avoid tensions and misunderstandings with the Muslim world.

During his intervention at the start of the second week of the gathering of prelates from around the world, Archbishop Absi spoke of the “openness of some Muslims to Christianity, undoubtedly helped by today’s means of communication.” The archbishop also stated some have even discovered in Christ “the face of God the Father.”

The Syrian prelate said that through the eyes of Muslims, the de-Christianization of Europe has not affected their view of a distinction between Christians and Westerners. “The Muslims do not see the difference between Christians and Westerners, because they do not distinguish, themselves, between what is religious and what is political and social,” he said.

“What precedes the Westerners is perceived by the Muslims as preceding the Christians.”

Obstacles to the New Evangelization

Archbishop Absi stressed that the greatest obstacle to dialogue and openness to the New Evangelization in Muslim countries is the cultural and political behavior in the West. Since Muslims do not usually make the distinction between Christians and Westerners, evangelization becomes an ever increasingly difficult task to accomplish.

“The majority of Muslims are convinced that the relaxing of mores, the exploitation of weak and poor peoples, the disdain of the Muslim religion that they feel from Westerners, comes from Christians,” he said.

The Greek-Melkite Archbishop concluded his address stating that the Synod must focus on a solution to stop the confusion between Christianity and Western identity.  “What can be done to stop the Muslims from confusing Christianity and the West, Christians and Westerners, and to not feel ridiculed and frustrated?” he asked.  

“The Synod, in its configuration of new evangelization, should lean towards this question, to learn how to avoid, as much as possible, tensions and misunderstandings and what to do so that the Muslims may be more receptive with regards to the Church and to the Gospel,” Archbishop Absi concluded.

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