Group „Youth of Mary“ from Lebanon organised interfaith encounter in Medjugorje in duration of one week. The representatives of Sunni, Shiite, Maronite, Catholic and Orthodox religion from Lebanon, shared their experiences on interfaith life, as they all gathered around the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace. They chose Medjugorje, place visited by many pilgrims from all over the world and on Thursday, August 11, they sent message of peace and reconciliation, and took photo all of them together.
The representatives of Sunni, Sheik Najib Eidra, representatives of Shiite and organiser of the religious group “Mary, the Queen of Peace”, lawyer Hussein Jaber, representative of Orthodox religion Fr. Ibrahim Saad, representatives of Roman Catholic Fr. Adib Zakhour and Maronite representative Fr. Yousef Botrous. Rita Chaheen, representative of Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Lebanon, was also participating. Jean Naccouzi, the organiser of this encounter emphasised similar history of interethnic and interfaith conflict in Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is because of that, he believes, that Virgin Mary had major role in ending conflict in Lebanon and can also play important role in preventing conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Fr. Iko Skoko, guardian of the Franciscan Monastery in Mostar, Fr. Marinko Sakota, parish priest of Medjugorje, Head of Orthodox Monastery in Zitomislici Danilo Pavlović, Suljo ef.Cikotić, Head Imam of Muslim Community Mostar were present too.
Fr. Iko emphasised the importance of this encounter, as well as representatives of local religious communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sheikh Eidra spoke about Mary’s importance in Islam, saying she is the only woman described as trustworthy. Kur’an says she was chosen above all other women of the world. If Christians and Muslims can agree that the Virgin Mary is the symbol of purity, innocence and justice, she is so important in both religions that this should be enough for all of us to live together in peace and justice.
Hussein Jaber said: „We Lebanese have need for peace to which Mary is inviting us. God made her the example of goodness and grace for both religions, and that is why it is her love that unites Muslims and Christians“.
Fr. Ibrahim Saad confirmed Mary’s importance and said he is hoping that our common values like grace and respecting Word of God would unite us, despite all of our differences and artificially created distance among us. This friendly encounter is the fruit of those values. Fr. Adib Zakhour said that the importance of Mary is in the common work of Christians and Muslims to achieve righteous peace and life. She was chosen exactly because her role in Kur’an and Gospel is great and he was hoping that this meeting would send a message of peace.
Fr. Yousef Botrous quoted speech of Pope John Paul II during his visit to Lebanon on September 7, 1989: „Lebanon is more than a state. Lebanon is a message of freedom and the example of pluralism in East and in West world“.
All gathered here sent message of peace not just to Lebanese community, but to all governments and citizens of the world, especially to those who live in the fear of terrorism and religious discrimination. Religion is not responsible for terrorist evil acts done by extremists and lack of knowledge, that gives wrong impression of every Muslim being against Christians. It is not like that. Surely, despite everything, it is possible to live together with condition that we live led by principles stated above, and never to allow circumstances of hatred to separate us even more. This meeting ended with prayer of all participants. (photos)