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Egypt, P. Fortunato: 800 years later the same message of dialogue and peace

di Enzo Fortunato
Egypt, P. Fortunato: 800 years later the same message of dialogue and peace

The Franciscan family is observing Pope Francis’ two-day trip to Egypt which will take place tomorrow and Saturday with "the utmost attention". "It occurs in a context of diplomatic tensions, wars and terrorist attacks, and reminds us of another. That of St. Francis", explains padre Enzo Fortunato, spokesman of the Sacro Convento of Assisi. "Francis of Assisi embarked for the East in the month of June 1219 and, upon arriving in Damietta, met the Sultan of Egypt, Melek-al-Kamel, nephew of Saladin, name by which Salh al-Din is known in the West, founder of the Ayubbide dynasty and Sultan of Egypt and Syria in the final decades of the 12th-century.

It was he who conquered Jerusalem in1187, known for being not only a great commander but also for having been a capable politician, being able to reach a compromise with the Christian forces defeated in Palestine", he remembered, also citing various “Franciscan and non-Franciscan” sources, which confirm the meeting between Francis and the Sultan. "Then what Francis thought, in addition to his refusal of the crusade and of belligerent ways, is contained in the first rule of 1221 and reviewed and approved by the Pope in 1223 where he explains how a Franciscan must go among the Saracens", he points out.

"This Assisian was a man of peace - states padre Enzo -: what he dreamt, he demonstrated with his life and in all ways possible, going to the Sultan and proclaiming to him the peace of Christ, which is not the peace the world gives. He wasn’t there for the Sultan alone, but also for the crusaders, who had great need of examples of Christian life. Presence and witness: these are the clear spiritual and historical guidelines of his gesture".

"And now Pope Francis - he adds- is following that path", the first Pope in history to bear the name of the Saint of Assisi. "I also will go to Egypt to the follow the different stages - says padre Enzo -. We were already there in recent months with the Custodian Mauro Gambetti, meeting members of the government and civil society and preparing the stage of 2019. In fact this meeting symbolically opens the 800th anniversary of the handshake and embrace between Christians and Muslims".

"A meeting which unfortunately seems to occur during a ‘new medieval’ where heads are cut and people combat in the name of God.

We don’t want to fall back into the medieval, but to open doors and walk roads anchored to dialogue and mutual respect", concludes the spokesman of the Sacro Convento.

Enzo Fortunato
Direttore della Rivista

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