In a sign of cooperation between the government and Egypt’s religious institutions, the Ministry of Youth and Sports hosted Pope Tawadros of the Coptic Orthodox Church, representing the Egyptian Family House.
The Family House is a partnership institution between the Azhar and Egypt’s Christian denominations. It is tasked to promote and preserve national unity, at both the governmental and grassroots levels.
On July 27 Minister of Youth Khalid Abdel Aziz welcomed Tawadros in an event organized by the youth committee of the Family House. The title of the conference was The Role of Youth in Building Egypt’s Future.
Central to Tawadros’ message was that education is the key to change in society.
Participating also in panel discussion were Gamal al-Shaer, head of the Radio and Television Institute, Gamal Shaqara, professor of modern history and the head of the Middle East Research Center, Musad Aweis, head of the youth committee of the Egyptian Family House, and Aida Nassif, professor of philosophy at Cairo University and Aweis’ assistant leader in the youth committee.
They discussed the economy, confronting terrorism with culture and thought, as well as social and spiritual development.
Minister Abdel Aziz referred to Tawadros’ statement from August 2013 that a nation without churches is better than churches without a nation. This put an end, he said, to the sectarian problem Egypt was suffering at the time.
Dozens of churches throughout Egypt were burned following the removal of President Morsi and the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest sites. Some were trying to sow the seeds of division, the minister said, but to their surprise the opposite was proven.
Tawadros was asked how the church overcame the divisions of 2013. He said the one who knows love, understands life. So the one who knows the love of Egypt understands Egypt, and the church has been a national institution since the first century, which always puts the interests of the nation as first priority.
He praised the 14 centuries of relationship between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, saying it could not be described on paper but is tasted in everyday life.
Muslims and Christians together are responsible for the protection of the nation, Tawadros emphasized. The fingers of a hand differ in shape and size, but they work together for the good of the person. This is a lesson, he said, in accepting differences and pluralism.
The event at the ministry was part of stage two of a Family House program to prepare youth leaders from the different governorates who can spread the ideas of national unity, building bridges of communication and dialogue between the sons of the nation.
Five regional meetings to be held in Alexandria, North Sinai, Luxor, Fayoum, and Cairo will contribute to this effort.
Information and pictures courtesy of the Facebook page of the Coptic Orthodox Church Spokesman.