On Thursday, February 10, 2005, the inauguration of the “Unus Dominus” Study and Dialogue Center took place in the house of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Lorán, Alexandria, a center dedicated to the study and promotion of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

We say finally because it is the formal beginning of a project cherished and gestated more than a year ago. The project is common to the religious province of the IVE in the Middle East (Our Lady of the Exile) and to the respective province of the SSVM (Our Lady of Sorrows).

Devoting oneself to the promotion of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue may seem strange to some, perhaps it may even cause perplexities in others. I believe that both in one and in another field we find abundant examples of dedication on the part of His Holiness John Paul II, considered “father of our religious family”, but not only of dedication but especially in the last time-of declarations and Explicit and formal teachings in this regard.

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With regard to ecumenism, we quote only a few: “The work of the unity of Christians I believe is one of the greatest and most beautiful tasks of the Church in our time” [1]. And also, during the V Extraordinary Consistory: ” The ecumenical dialogue, with all the activity that springs from it in favor of the unity of Christians, is one of the fundamental tasks of the Church with a view to the year 2000 ” [2]. He recently said: “Jesus’ desire that all Christians be united is imperative that compels us, the strength that sustains us and healthy reproach for our apathy and narrowness of heart. The unity of Christians has been a constant yearning for my pontificate and remains a demanding priority of my ministry ” [3].


            Regarding interreligious dialogue, we want to point out that when Paul VI introduces the term ‘dialogue’ in the teaching of the Magisterium, he does so in the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam of August 6, 1964. There the Pope emphatically affirms the following: ” Go, then, and teach all nations (Mt 28,19), is the supreme mandate of Christ to the Apostles.

We will give this inner impulse of charity the name, today common, of dialogue » [4]. Since this is the first magisterial definition of dialogue, there can be no misunderstanding regarding its relationship with the mission, specifically with the evangelizing mission commanded by Christ. Interreligious dialogue is that carried out with non-Christians, which therefore will not oppose or contradict the missionary impulse.

There is no possible ambiguity on the part of teacher education. The one who interprets ambiguously does it because he wants to do it, or because he does not understand. As a sentence from John Paul II, we only place one: “Interreligious dialogue is a method and means for reciprocal knowledge and enrichment … and is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church; it is not in opposition to the mission ad gentes ; even more, it has special links with her and is an expression of herself … ” [5]

Acts carried out

For the inauguration, a conference was planned, and then the Holy Mass, presided by the Bishop Apostolic Vicar of Alexandria for the Latin rite (since in Egypt the Catholic hierarchy is of Coptic rite), Monsignor José Bayardo.

The previous day we received nevertheless a pleasant news. The Catholic Coptic Patriarch of Egypt, His Eminence Cardinal Stefanos II was in Alexandria and had made a visit to all the houses of Servidoras in Alexandria (they have three). He also expressed interest in visiting the house of the IVE in that city. Due to lack of time, I could not do it that day. He gladly accepted to do it the next day, and he also willingly accepted to participate in the conference that would take place.

The conference began at 4:30 p.m. He was in charge of the Rev. Carlos D. Pereira, director of the center, and his theme was: The ecumenical hope of the Church. In it, some texts and conclusions of the teaching of the ecclesiastical magisterium about this topic were analyzed, divided into three stages: Before the Second Vatican Council; during the same and during the teaching of Paul VI; teaching of John Paul II. The ecumenical hope of the Church arises from the certain and effective prophecy pronounced by Our Lord: “There will be one flock and one Shepherd”(Jn 10,16). It was counted, in addition to the aforementioned presence of the Catholic Coptic patriarch, with the participation of many of the members of the religious family of the Incarnate Word in Egypt: priests, sisters, novices, novices and postulants, as well as many religious of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, and some lay people.

At 6:00 p.m. The Holy Mass was presided over by Bishop José Bayardo, Bishop of Alexandria for Latinos. In his homily, His Excellency highlighted the progress made in the field of ecumenical dialogue in recent decades, including in the area of the local church. He encouraged us to continue in that direction, without letting ourselves be overcome by impatience: “Impatience is a great temptation against ecumenism.”

The next day, Friday 11, the center officially began its activities with a small course of Introduction to interreligious dialogue, its nature, and insertion in the ecclesial teaching. It was dictated by Fr. Carlos Pereira and counted with the participation of members of the religious family who work in Egypt. This first course aims to give the historical and theological foundations of interreligious dialogue, as well as the way in which it was presented and developed by the Magisterium. On Fridays, there will always be a school year.

Activities of the center

The school courses take place once a week for a semester. Intensive specialization courses are also planned, lasting one week, and a series of lectures to be held during the semester. There are already some lay people who are interested in following a certain training program in this field.

Parallel to the center, it begins with private classes for teaching the Arabic language, for new missionaries who come to the country and the region, and with a work of translation of documents and articles, by some professors. Once translated conferences and presentations, it will be possible to extend the courses of the center to local lay people, of the Arabic language.

It is expected to perform certain cultural events (guided tours, concerts) and also, during the summer, a volunteer service and accommodation, for those who want to assist and help in the various works that the religious family has in Egypt. And of course, some prayer meetings, inviting representatives of other Christian confessions.

We trust in the Lord, who we believe has inspired this work, which has the support, among others, not only of the local bishop and the Apostolic Nuncio of the country, but of the same Catholic Coptic Patriarch as well as other bishops (such as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem) that have agreed to be part of the honor committee. We also hope to have the spiritual support of our religious family and the prayers of all.

Praise Jesus Christ!!