Looking at Islam not only as a set of behavioral norms, but as a religion, with its own spirituality, its own religiosity and its own theological reflection: this is what the national delegates of the Bishops’ conferences in Europe for relations with Muslims intend to discuss in their meeting in Scutari next 7-9 February. Holding the meeting for the first time in Albania at the invitation of the Archbishop of Scutari-Pult, Mgr Angelo Massafra OFM, the meeting testifies to the interest and the capillary work of the Catholic Church in Europe for dialogue with the believers of the other religions present on the continent, in particular with the Muslim community. This year the chosen approach will foster a theological-spiritual reflection and the exchange of initiatives and good practices put in place by the Church in the field of relations with other religions.
In many ways, the fifth edition of this meeting will be characterized by a new profile, though in continuity with previous experiences. For the first time, the national delegates will meet in Albania, a country with a Muslim majority. They will focus on theological and spiritual issues related to Islam and Islamic-Christian dialogue. This will be done through the contribution of two Albanian Muslim intellectuals: the first a member of the Sunni community and the other belonging to the Bektashi brotherhood, which is pre-eminent in Albania.
The first part of the meeting will be animated by Br Ignazio De Francesco, monk of the “Little Family of the Annunciation, Montesole” (Italy). This part will see the contributions of the Sunnite Imam Lauren Luli, Vice-President of the Muslim Community in Albania and of His Grace (Haxhi) Baba Edmond Brahimaj Kryegjyshi, Leader of the Bektashi community. Both addresses will help to draw up the fundamental profiles of the Muslim believer and the ways in which they live their relationship with God.
The second part of the meeting will instead be dedicated to pastoral matters. Father Vincent Feroldi, Director of the National Service for Relations with Islam of the French Bishops’ Conference, will present the pastoral challenges posed by the presence of mixed couples (in which one spouse is Christian and the other Muslim), concrete places for interreligious dialogue.
Mgr Claude Rault, Bishop emeritus of Laghouat Ghardaïa (Algeria), will present his experience of interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims based on spirituality. In this part of the meeting, a large portion will be dedicated to the exchange of experiences and good practices.
Finally, Fr Andrea Pacini, lecturer at the Northern Italy Theological Faculty (Turin’s Section), will conclude the meeting with a reflection on the theological status of Islam in the contemporary Christian reflection.
During the meeting Mgr Khaled Akasheh, Head of the Office for Islam at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will bring the greetings from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Prefect of the aforementioned Vatican dicastery. He will also inform participants about the activities of the Pontifical Council and on the Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to Egypt, which culminated in the meeting with the Great Imam of Al-Azhar.
The Apostolic Nuncio in Albania, Archbishop Charles John Brown, and the Bishop of Tirana-Durazzo, Mgr George Frendo OP will also attend in the meeting.
The event will end with a visit to the Bektashi Shrine of Croia (Krujë), the spiritual center of the Bektashi confraternity.
Notes for the Media
The meeting is held behind closed doors, with the exception of the work sessions on Thursday 8 February (from 9.00 to 12.30). Work sessions will take place at the Hotel Colosseo, Rruga Kol Idromeno, Scutari.
A final press conference will take place on Friday 9 February at 4.00 pm in Tirana, at the Archbishopric. Speakers will be: Mgr George Frendo OP, Archbishop of Tirana-Durazzo, Mgr Angelo Massafra OFM, Archbishop of Scutari-Pult, Fr Andrea Pacini, lecturer at the Northern Italy Theological Faculty (Section of Turin) and Mrs Loreta Aliko, President of the State Committee of Faiths.
Albanian journalists are asked to accredit (to apply for an accreditation) by sending an email to don Mark Shtjefni, Spokesperson of the Albanese Bishops’ Conference: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other information (Photos) will be available here.