Newspaper 'Eleftherotipia' (English)
INTERVIEW OF HIS BEATITUDE PETROS VII POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA WITH MRS MARIA PAPOUTSAKIS
Alexandria 6th April 2004
How is the co-existence of Orthodox and Muslims really realized in a place, such as yours, where the majority are Muslims (practically, in functions, discussions, special activities, etc.)?
The term “co-existence” with all its positive content, especially when it is completed by a corresponding definition, in other words, as a “harmonious coexistence”, is surely an adequate way in which to declare the framework of the relations between Christians and Muslims in the hospitable land of the Nile, as well as on the entire African continent.
This cohabitation, apart from its various expressions, which are naturally organized and often addressed to one factually limited number of people, penetrates society and is under the direct concern of the State. Consequently, the volition of the State authorities corresponds to and is also in harmony with the practice of society and its relationships which have been formed through time between the faithful of both religions, while “theological dialogue” has obvious results.
How much have terrorist activities influenced the relations between religious communities and how much has fear invaded the life of the people?
Terrorism is obviously a great international issue, with many victims and many accompanying issues which affect all forms of daily life and official policy. However, despite the justified fear and anxiety of people, the situation obviously has a positive influence and engenders the minimization of fear and perhaps even the internal criticism for the quest for reasons for and horrid results of violence.
When elsewhere, ways and models of co-existence are being sought, Egypt is experiencing a progressive=complete reality, a true model for other countries and communities, both in the Western world as well as in the wider Arabic and Muslim world.
Are there Hellenes in the areas which you shepherd and what is the condition of fellow Hellenes abroad today, especially during these Holy days?
Hellenes from Greece and Cyprus, organized in communities and other groups and being totally engaged in the local societies of the countries in which they work and progress, vibrantly live the ecclesiastical feasts, especially that of Pascha, under the care of the consular and ambassadorial authorities of Greece and Cyprus and also under the spiritual guidance of the local Archbishops, Bishops and Priests.
From the Venerable Centre of the Patriarchate of Alexandria every possible effort is made to accommodate those who wish to be close to the Church during the Holy days which we are living through, with a clear influence on the local populations.
You are Cypriot in origin. How do you experience the Cypriot issue these days, and what do you believe regarding the future of Cyprus?
The Cypriot issue connects the past with the future of Cyprus, whose natural problem provokes the interest of the European Union and the United Nations. The future belongs to optimistic and progressive people, who fortunately comprise the majority both in Cyprus as well as in all the expressers of the implicated institutional agents.
Hellenes all over the world, especially those of Cypriot origin, experience the entire issue with discretion and vision as well as with prayer and concentration of resources and we try to listen attentively to the messages of the times and the dangers and perspectives of the future, while it is also not possible for us to deny the wounds of the past which we struggle to not have repeated in the future.
The God of peace and love will protect the Cypriot people and will offer the just solution for its problems, especially in the spirit of the Holy days of the Divine Passion and the Resurrection of the God-man Jesus. In the same spirit, we wish you and all Christians peace and joy from the Risen One. Happy Pascha.