CWNews.com - Two Lebanese Catholic prelates questioned the feasibility of dialogue with Islam during discussions on October 21 at the Synod of Bishops.

Commenting on propositions advocating inter-religious dialogue, Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavien Joseph Melki of Dara, Lebanon questioned whether the suggestions were realistic:

Is it even thinkable that the Arabic countries of the Middle East, where fundamentalism is becoming more entrenched, will accept in the near future abandoning their theocratic regimes founded on the Koran and the Sharia, which constitute flagrant discrimination towards non-Muslims? To me this seems to be in the domain of utopia, for the centuries to come.

Archbishop Raboula Antoine Beylouni, also a Syrian-Catholic prelate from Lebanon, raised similar questions. Because the Muslim believes that the Qu’ran offers the absolute and complete truth, the archbishop said, “he comes to dialogue with a sense of superiority.” More ominously, he continued, the Qu’ran “commands the imposition of religion through force—with the sword.” As a result, the archbishop said, Muslims are unlikely to recognize religious freedom.

Archbishop Beylouni offered a practical suggestion for efforts at dialogue with Islam. Because the Qu’ran treats the Virgin Mary with great reverence, he said, “we should turn to her for all dialogue and all encounters with the Muslims.” He concluded his remarks with a reference to one very significant inter-faith agreement in his own country: “If it pleased God that the Feast of the Annunciation was declared a national feast day in Lebanon for Christians and Muslims, may it also become a national feast day in other Arab countries.”

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We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place." But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear" and again, "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to Thee." Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice. 

St. Benedict