It is with sentiments of joy and honour that we are present here among you today as guests of this auspicious Islamic Centre of Studies. Our visit here is not merely the customary, positive response to an invitation, but also reveals the essentially good and  friendly relations that exist between the Orthodox Church of the AfricanContinent- the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the hospitable people of Libya .

            Consequently, this meeting is the product of mutual- respect, the desire for closer ties and mutual understanding, of peaceful coexistence and hopeful  expectations for the future. In other words, this encounter of ours carries noble sentiments and aims at glorifying God’s name and the spiritual and intellectual upliftment of His people.

            My dear friends,

            Our life is nothing more than the constant exchange of sentiments, sometimes happy ones and sometimes not, depending on our various experiences. If we seek to discover the manner in which these sentiments are born, we will have to go back to the creation of man himself, to man’s origin from the One Creator, the Loving God.

            This explains how man, from his childhood, seeks to approach his Creator, to communicate with Him and, as man matures, to comprehend the meaning of Divine Glory and Divine Grandeur, to be led to conscious faith.

            If our thought follows this spiritual journey, it is logically led to feel wonder and awe before the immensity of God’s Grandeur.  God is Spirit that is not contained within time and space. God is eternal, perfect, sinless, All-knowing, all-loving, compassionate and powerful.

            Man, on the other hand, is imperfect, sinful and weak. It is this contrast that inspires out feelings of humilty and piety. When man encounters God’s uncontainable spiritual dimension, he goes beyond his own finit boundaries.He comprehends his mistakes. He is overwhelmed by noble sentiments of pious honour and inner emotions. He seeks the Divine mercy and leniency. He dares to hope.

            It is through faith that hope becomes a surety. It is this hope that leads to our inner peace and tranquility when confronting the end of our earthly life and our encounter with God’s righteous judgment. Let us not forget that Christianity, as well as Islam, has as a prominent characteristic of this hope, the belief in life after death, in the blessedness that God has prepared as a gift for the faithful that carry-out His will.

            In this whole process of the cultivation of a religious sentiment, it would be wrong to neglect the unique and vital element of love. Man turns to God as the child turns to the father who cares, provides and nurtures him tirelessly. And as the child’s soul is overwhelmed by feelings of joy and blessedness in the security of  the Father’s embrace, so too does man experience the inexpressible attraction, gratitude and love for the One and Great  God.

            It is then, through the process of feelings we just described, that the religious sentiment spreads light on earthly  life, creates high ideals, elevates man’s existence, and transfigures the world.

            My brothers,

            Perhaps you are wondering what the expression of my thoughts on the religious sentiment aims at. In a world that is characterized by conflict, inequalities, injustices, passions and lawless profits and interests, in a world that is turbulent and lacks the direction of the universal ideals of justice, peace and vitue, you and we – we all who carry the “ammunition” of the unique religious sentiment towards the Benevolent God- we all have reason and duty to proclaim more intensely than at any other time, that the spiritual medicine for our suffering and anxious humanity, is faith, love and peace.

            God’s great gift is life. At these times- when innocent people, when infants lose their life through hunger, thirst, wars and conflicts, acts of terror, or even worse, through clashes that take place in God’s name, it is at these times especially, that religious leaders cannot remain silent and disinterested.

            When religion is used to excuse conflict, the voices of the faithful must be heard protesting, and protecting the sacred garment of faith from becoming  a garment of violence and bloodletting. When religion is used as a reason for war, we have to project a common and united voice for peace. Our reason for this remains timeless- our faith speaks of peace. Our sacred scriptures praise peace. Consequently, only when the world follows this path of peace, will true peace prevail.

            At this point I would like to add something more. Throughout  human history and to this present day, people lived in regions where they shared one common faith. Today, in the age of globalization, this is no longer a reality. The times when people had only one faith within a given region- when they had one tradition and one way of life, one historical memory, common customs, common traditions and one common hope- these times have passed.  Our world today is characterized by diversity.

            In our daily life, in our work environment, in our communications, we encounter people coming from civilizations foreign to our own, having ideals that are foreign to us. Some may see this as a threat to their identity. It is however possible to see this positively. It is possible for us to transform this into an honourable way of influence for the common and universal good.

            It can be the manner in which we, through our encounters, proclaim and pass-on the common spiritual treasures of our religions, so that love, peace, respect, the sacredness of the human person and of creation, become the yeast that will give rise to a new world.

            My dear friends,

            The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa is concerned and works tirelessly for the progress and the betterment of our fellow-man by defending his dignity and uniqueness. It makes use of all its reserves so that this continent that we share in common and which unites us-this continent of the future, where the conscience of the world-wide community will be judged before the multitudes of innocent and suffering African peoples- so that this same continent may progress, prosper and have a spiritual foundation.

            We know that in this struggle we are not alone. Libya, with her able leader, his excellency president Muamar Kadafy, has been striving for years to better the situation of her own people, as well as that of other people in need. It is known throughout the world that tones of humanitarian aid have their starting point here. This aid aims at providing material and moral support to people, who through no fault or choice of their own, are suffering. Be proud because you nobly serve , under your  able leader, the message of the God of Peace, Reconciliation and Love.

            We pray that the All-powerful God strengthen your efforts and enlighten the hearts and minds of all the leaders of the world, so that “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men” may prevail.

            We beseech the Divine Governor of the universe to bring peace, brotherhood, concord, love, justice and equality to all people and nations of the world. May He fill all souls with this religious sentiment that is capable of bringing forth  only good fruit.

 “ Be at peace and the God of peace and love will be with you”. ( II Cor. 13: 11)