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!!


Etymologically the word sect seems to come from the verb secare (to cut), and in this case, it would mean currency ab aliis (separated from the others), or from the verb sequi (follow ), in which case it would signify adherence to the teachings of some teacher or from some institution.

In both senses, it can be applied to numerous groups that, following the theories of some singular person, are organized with more or less fanaticism for political, religious, etc. issues.

Its use is more frequent in the religious field, and in this sense, it is spoken of a sect, like of groups that separate of the traditional feeling to follow the doctrine of some innovator. In this way, you can find sects that have split off from Christianity or from other religions. In the Christian camp, the sect supposes its dismemberment of one of the Protestant confessions

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Algermissen describes them as follows: “A sect is a religious community considered as Christian because of its faith in Christ and its acceptance of the Bible as a source of revealed truth, but at the same time, it lacks certain inseparable characteristics of the true Church of Christ”. Strictly speaking, the great majority of so-called “Christian” sects accept neither the Trinity of Persons in God nor the divinity of Jesus Christ, so they are not Christian.


In the first place and taking into account the general meaning of the word sect, we can divide these groups into two main branches: sects of Christian origin and sects of pagan origin.

The following chart helps to clarify the various ramifications that have arisen subsequently:

1. Groups of Christian Origin
1.1. Fundamentalist Sects Assemblies of God
Evangelical Groups Pentecostal Groups
1.2. Groups for Christians Mormons Jehovah Witnesses
2. Groups of Pagan Origin
2.1. Esoteric groups Rosicrucians
2.2. Groups of Hindu origin Hare Krishna
Mission of the Divine Light
Ananda Marga
2.3. Groups derived from other Eastern religions Baha’i
Seicho No Ié
2.4. Syncretic groups Afro-Brazilian religions Secta Moon

We find other classifications such as ETClark, which divides them into:

  1. Adventists or pessimists(Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  2. Subjective perfectionists(Methodism, Nazarenes, sects of holiness).
  3. Charismatic (the whole range of Pentecostals).
  4. Communitarian (sometimes called communists for their attempt to return to what they believe to be primitive Christianity (Shakers).
  5. Objectivists or jurists (Mormons).
  6. Egocentric(the Christian Center)
  7. Esoteric and mystical, in general non-Christians Rosicrucian, Masonic.

Peter Berg distinguishes them from the point of view of religious experience:

  1. Sects of a prophetic nature, with a message that must be proclaimed to the world (Adventists, witnesses).
  2. Sects of enthusiastic type or lived experience (Pentecostals).
  3. Sects of Gnostic character with a message to reveal, what would happen between organizations that preach health or those influenced by Hindu and spiritualistic theories

General Thought Line

Although it is difficult to discover a line of common contents in all of them, it is possible to trace their general trend.

  •  In these movements, salvation is usually considered as something exclusive of a minority group, guided by superior personalities, who believe they have a privileged relationship with a God, whose secrets they only want to know. The search for the sacred also presents ambiguous contours. For some it is a higher value, towards which man tends without ever being able to reach it; for others, however, it is located in the world of magic, and they seek to attract it to their own sphere to manipulate it and reduce it to their own service. ( Message of His Holiness John Paul II, in the World Day of the Emigrant, 1990).
  •  Expectation of an imminent wonderful change, whether collective or individual: collective change or that affects humanity, such as the “New Order” of Freemasonry, for example; or catastrophic nuclear war, the end of each cosmic cycle (Hindu, Buddhist sects) and, more frequently, the apocalyptic end of the world: Jehovah’s Witnesses ( 1914 , 1925 , 1975;), Seventh-day Adventists (1843; March, April 18 and October 22, 1884), the Children of God, now called The Family, (1993), Rama Mission (between 1975 and the year 2000), Edelweis (1992), Universal Church of God (1936, 1947, 1972, 1975), etc. The wonderful individual change is usually the aspiration of the sects cataloged as “desacralized, esoteric, etc. “: Freemasonry, New Acropolis, New Age, Gnosticism, etc. The transformation of” man “into” Superman “is the express objective of some sects, like New Acropolis, of its doctrinal deficiencies. is that, as each one must act in accordance with his conscience, whoever believes himself to be ” Superman ” cannot look with commiseration at the mere ” men “, to whom he will force to accept his desires of giftedness, of degree or force.

Regarding the sects of Christian origin:

  •  They completely ignore the Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church in the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures. Hence, its reading is fundamentalist and they argue with the biblical text in a clearly literal way, totally ignoring the intimate relationship between the Church as the recipient of Revelation and the Sacred Text.
  • They are totally unaware of the existence of the apostolic succession, and therefore of a hierarchical Church of divine institution, rejecting the Primate of the Pope. Simultaneously they lack a sacramental structure, an ordained priesthood of Divine Institution, and therefore of the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ. They reject the existence of the sacrament of Penance with confession, and if in some cases they admit a “forgiveness of sins”, this is given to the Protestant style, in the subjectivity of personal prayer.
  •  El Baptism is reduced to a simple ritual of public acceptance of Christ as Savior and joining the group; they reject the Baptism of children, and in general, they repeat the Baptism to all those who have been baptized outside the group.
  •  They reject the Virginity of the Blessed Mother of God and the veneration of the Saints.
  •  For fear of being contaminated by ideas or customs, they make island groups.
  •  An obsessive attack on the Catholic Church and its representatives.

The confessions that have generated the greatest number of sects have been the Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and Congregationalist.

Causes of the origin of the sects

Perhaps the most important is that which comes from one of the most important principles of Protestantism and is the principle of Scripture alone, and, above all, its anthropocentric radicalization in a free examination. The free interpretation of doubts to different ideologies or points of view without a central axis that coordinates or bases the movement.

            We can also say that the sects are the result of the opposition of the dissenting groups, the antagonism can have different roots: either the official confession deals with hardness and abandons large sectors of the community, or it is some particular groups of this which, accusing it of deviations, in this way cause the split.

On other occasions the origin is in some enlightened, sometimes impostor, sometimes with a willingness to live a sincere religiousness, that lacking information and knowledge of Revelation creates groups of followers who do not know anything else better. Its founders were baptized and were active members of some of them. By separating these groups take many beliefs and liturgical practices that will then be transformed.

Advancement of the sects

  •  The weak points on which the new religious movements are based are instability and uncertainty.

 They base their approach strategy on them. It is a set of attention and services provided to make, for example, the emigrant abandon his faith and adhere to a new religious proposal. Presenting themselves as the sole holders of the truth, they affirm the falsehood of the religion that the emigrant professes and they ask him to give a brusque and immediate change of route. It is, of course, a true moral aggression, from which it is not easy to escape with good manners because their ardor and insistence are oppressive.

  •  Another cause is a stagnation in reception within the ecclesial communities and failures in appropriate catechesis, especially for adults and in preference in the poorest and most forgotten sectors of society.
  •  Another reason that can lead to accepting the propositions of these new religious movements is the lack of coherence with which some baptized live their Christian commitment, and also the desire for a more fervent religious life, which is expected to be experienced in a certain sect when the community that is frequented is not very committed

It is precisely these multitudes that preserve the faith of their baptism but probably weakened by the ignorance of religious truths and by a certain ecclesial ‘marginality’, the most vulnerable to the fight against secularism and the proselytism of sects.

Words of the Holy Father, the Shepherd of the sheep …

No one, like the Holy Father John Paul II, has been able to openly denounce the danger of these groups, above all, it is the voice of the neediest, who is the target of attack by the sects:

“The teachings of the sects and new religious movements are opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, therefore, adherence to them means denying the faith in which you have been baptized and educated.” The Gospel, while exhorting us To be simple like doves, he also invites us to be prudent and clever as serpents, the same vigilance that you put when your material affairs are at stake, in order not to be victims of the deceptions of those who want to take advantage of you, must guide you to Do not fall into the network of the snares of those who attempt against your faith.

“See that no one deceives you,” the Lord warns us. Many will come by usurping my name and saying ‘I am’, and will deceive many … If anyone says to you, ‘Look, the Christ here.’ ‘Look at him there’, do not believe him. For false prophets will arise “(Mk 13: 6, 21-22), and he also tells us:” Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits, you will know them “(Mt 7, 15-16).

‘Stand firm in faith, be men, be strong’ (1 Cor 16,13). The exhortation of the Apostle Paul is an echo of the Lord’s words that invite us to build our own existence on the solid rock that is himself. Jesus, Son of God, assures us salvation. Only those who are firmly rooted in it can bear fruit that resists the erosion of all fashions, including those of religious sects.

Gratitude towards the gift of God manifested through the response of a coherent Christian life, draws upon you other gifts of communion with him and of perseverance in your faithful Christian commitment. ‘He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him ‘(Jn 14,21) and’ everyone who has will be given and will have plenty ‘(Mt 25,29).

We Christians have to be able to denounce and uncover the deceptions of these groups, certainly an active and committed participation in our ecclesial communities will help enormously, but above all the testimony of a Christian Life will bring back those who left Mother Church and it will be a break for those who think to leave it, the words convince … It says a famous saying but the example drags.