His Holiness Pope Shenouda III received a formal invitation to attend the third conference of Inter Faith Dialogue which is to be convened in Doha the capital of Qatar on June 29-30, 2005.
This invitation came after the signing of the first agreement entrenching dialogue between Islam and Christianity in the Arab world on July 16, 2005, which crowned one year of marathon talks. The seven-point agreement calls for organizing organizing an annual meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern and the Arab world’s burning issues. Among those in attendance at the signing last year were His Holines Pope Shenouda III, Secretary General of the Beirut-based Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) Guirguis Ibrahim Saleh; and Hamid Bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue.
H.H. Pope Shenouda III, for his part, agreed that any dialogue should not tackle religions, but rather focus on common grounds between Christianity and Islam. MECC President Riad Jarjour said, in a speech delivered on his behalf by Bishop Riad Saleh, that the agreement’s paramount goal was to make the Arab Christianity an integral part of the world Islamic-Christian dialogue.
“The agreement expresses a common desire by the Islamic Forum and the Middle East Churches to unify their ranks and act in unison in defending common Arab issues,” added Rifaie. Sheikh Tantawi said any dialogue should steer clear of religions, otherwise it would be doomed. “Dialogue helps us to get to know each other and speak our minds out to find solutions to our problems,” he said.
This year’s conference is entitled, “Role of Religions in Building up Human Civilization.”