He acknowledged the challenges involved in daily “dialogue” saying, “Witnessing the dialogue of life is not always easy.”
“It becomes a cross when disciples, children of the country, are rejected because of their faith by those they love most,” the Archbishop of Algiers explained and added, “This is why inter-religious dialogue begins first of all in prayer, thanksgiving, intercession. It also deepens in prayer, when it becomes combat: combat against lies, against hatred and imploring for forgiveness.”
On July 7, Archbishop Desfarges was appointed as a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue alongside Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga of the Central African Republic (CAR) and Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria.
The Prelate who serves in the predominantly Muslim nation of Algeria has been at the helm of the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (CERNA) since 2015. In 2018, he led other members of CERNA to propose that interreligious dialogue be used as a way of promoting equity in the Maghreb countries.
He told ACI Africa during the July 18 interview, “Our Churches are at the table of the people who are predominantly Muslim. Our witness seeks to be lived first of all in the form of service and we would like to live it in the form of the washing of feet.”
Noting that Christians have previously been rejected by their families because of their faith, the 76-year-old Prelate rejoiced that the persecution is becoming “rare because the new disciples live their faith discreetly and with respect for Islam. And a path of acceptance is gradually being made in Algeria.”
To strengthen inter-religious dialogue, the Archbishop proposes that “our Churches make themselves servants of the Kingdom which goes far beyond the frontiers of the visible Church because the frontiers of the Kingdom are none other than those of Charity.”
“The Church is not an enterprise that seeks to expand, but it is a witness and servant of what God is doing in humanity. The witness is first of all one who recognizes in the other the work of the Spirit. He offers himself to collaborate in it,” Archbishop Desfarges said.
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