VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the intervention of Syrian Archbishop Joseph Absi,Titular Archbishop of Tarsus of the Greek-Melkites, Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of Damas of the Greek-Melkites. The address was given at the Synod of Bishops on the New Evanglization.
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The Church is living in a pluralist context on the level of the entire world. Because of this a contact open to all possibilities arises. One of the results of this contact is the openness of some Muslims to Christianity, undoubtedly helped by today’s means of communication. Some of them have even reached the point of discovering in Christ the loving face of God the Father.
Dealing with the new evangelization of the Western world in general, one must not lose sight that in the eyes of the Muslims, the de-Christianization of Europe has not taken away from this old Christian continent its Christian identity. 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.
What precedes the Westerners is perceived by the Muslims as preceding the Christians. Now, Western behavior, especially on the cultural and political level and in a general way, harms the religious and national sensitivity of the Muslims, their values, their ethics and their culture. Consequentially, this forms an obstacle to their openness to Christianity and to their possible evangelization.
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.
What can be done to stop the Muslims from confusing Christianity and the West, Christians and Westerners, and to not feel ridiculed and frustrated?
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.