“We do not live in the mentality of the ghetto, nor in the mentality of a minority complex, nor do we live as dhimmi (dependent) people,” said Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan. “We have always been, as Arab Christians, building our societies, loyal to our countries and nationalities, bringing hope in hopeless situations.”
A Palestinian Christian from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Younan was speaking at the joint World Council of Churches and Middle East Council of Churches conference on the Christian presence and witness in the Middle East, on 22 May in Beirut, Lebanon.
In his speech, Younan said that the process of reform continues to be at the heart of every Arab and Middle Eastern Christian. Their hopes, he said, will not end until they see the Middle East transformed through the values that Arab Christians cherish.
He particularly stressed a stronger engagement between Christians and Muslims. “Dialogue is important in some contexts, but we need full engagement. We need engagement with all monotheistic faiths, especially Muslims,” he said.
“We must engage with our Muslim neighbors on the question of the proper relation between religion and state. We must advocate for equal citizenship with equal rights and equal responsibilities that can be secured by stable and secure states with reliable constitutions.”
“We advocate for these values for the sake of building pluralistic societies that respect all diversities. This is the reason we refuse today to continue to be divided into sects, or millets, or religious groups,” Younan continued. “This is not a political conversation alone, but a perspective established in our faith that all people are children of God.”
Younan acknowledged the vital role of the Middle East Council of Churches in developing a constructive “intra-Christian” engagement, including involvement of the Evangelical family.
Younan, who is also President of the Lutheran World Federation, said that churches in the Arab world need further engagement with the global church, especially in the West. “Sometimes we express disappointment with churches and church-related organizations in the West. We are tired of their speeches. We want action,” he said.
To read the rest of the article, visit the WCC website.
Bishop Younan’s full speech is available for download.