An Address by the Bishop of Babylon, Theofylaktos
At the beginning of the 'True Life in God' pilgrimage in Egypt all the
participants of the ecumenical and inter-religious group were invited
to a Divine Liturgy held at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George
in Old Cairo.
Copied here is the address of Bishop of Babylon, Theofylaktos, given
at the end of the Liturgy on 22nd October 2002:
"My beloved brothers, bishops, elders of all the Christian
denominations, I welcome you with special love in this holy monastery.
I bring you the greetings and blessings of His All-Holiness, our
Patriarch, Pope of Alexandria and all Africa, His Holiness Peter VII,
who couldn't be with you all because of other duties. He is wishing
you a pleasant stay in the country of the Nile, Egypt.
The place in which you are today is not only holy but also
'Theovadistos' (walked by God). Here the Holy Family came and stayed
for approximately 18 months, fleeing Herod's terror. Here Jesus
Christ took His first steps, here the little Emmanuel heard the first
chirping of the birds. Our monastery is one of the most ancient
monuments that North Africa has to show, built in the 4th century AC.
Here is where St. George the great martyr was imprisoned for 30 months
and from here his martyrdom started and ended in a small town in
I'm especially glad for all of us gathering here today and raised our
hands in common prayer and supplication towards God for peace for the
whole world and for all the peoples on earth. Humanity is suffering
from wars and other kinds of catastrophes. We, as the representatives
of all Christian denominations and other religions, have the duty to
teach our peoples to live in reconciliation with all people.
Unfortunately, we all have forgotten that we have common roots, common
Father, God and Creator of the Universe. Enough! The earth is tired
of receiving, for centuries now, unjustly shed brotherly blood! Man
must understand someday that differences aren't solved with weapons
but by the language of the heart and of love. Someday we all must
work, and are obliged to do it with all our power, towards this
direction: to try and reconcile man first with God and then with his
fellowman, because in the Eyes of God we are all the same! St. Paul
says there is no Jew nor Greek, slave or free man, man or woman. All,
in the Eyes of Christ, are one.
Our gathering today should have a cause, so that all of us make it our
daily program in our life to pray everyday so that peace prevails in
the world. We should take the message of peace and love and carry it
to the peoples of all the earth. We can indeed be the new apostles
that will speak of love and peace. Everyday we hear by the media
about catastrophes and violence among peoples. Wherever one might
turn his eyes will see destruction, fires, human casualties and will
hear weeping and laments. Maybe it sounds illogical, but we, the
Patriarchate of Alexandria, for 2000 years now, coexist in harmony, in
friendship, with love, with all the people of Egypt that are Muslims.
We never had any problem. See every morning when the sun rises, it
doesn't differentiate where it will send it's rays, either to the
Christians, the Muslims, the Hindus or the Buddhists because we all
live under the big sky, the love of God! If we put aside our personal
interests, I'm sure that some day we will all be happy. We will shake
hands in reconciliation. I believe and hope and pray that this day
will come where the peoples of the world will meet at one point, will
shake hands, will lament for the blood that was shed and they will
reconcile for ever in their life.
From the land of Egypt, which is 'Theovadistos' (walked by God)
exactly because Our Lord Jesus Christ walked on it, we are to send
today to the ends of the world a brave message of love and peace: as
we gathered today in the Church under the same dome and we didn't
differentiate Christians from non-Christians or of other religions.
From today we will announce to the whole world that men can live in
reconciliation as long as they learn to love first their God, whoever
He is, whatever His Name is, and then I'm certain that love for their
fellowman will spring also.
Pass on to the leaders of your Churches, to the leaders of your
religions, to your people, to your communities, to your towns, to your
villages, to your cities, to your countries our greetings and our
blessings, our love. That we pray, a few Greeks, a few Christians,
whatever the number, we pray for peace, for the whole world so that
next year that I hope to have you close by, the smiles be wide! To
reveal the message that there is no more war, no men are killed, there
isn't anymore unjustly brotherly bloodshed on earth!"