On July 18, 2023, the Canadian Sephardi Federation, the Unified Sephardic Community of Quebec and the Centre Culturel Marocain à Montréal Dar Al Maghrib organized a ground-breaking interfaith conference-encounter here in Montreal exploring the theme "The Children of Abraham." The conference was hosted by the Chief Rabbi of Paris Mr. Haïm Korsia, the Archbishop of the Diocese of Montreal Msgr. Christian Lépine, and anthropologist and religious sciences specialist and author Mr. Faouzi Skali.
Par Benjamin Ntouo-Ngouoni
Abraham has a special place in the story of salvation. In claiming their descendance from Abraham, the three eminent speakers from the three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - acknowledged that Abraham's paternity extends to everyone, including all of heaven's elect. They also affirmed that all those who believe in God can share in Abraham's blessings and may take upon themselves the identity of children of Abraham.
Speaking on this subject, Chief Rabbi of Paris Mr. Korsia considered that Abraham’s experience risks being betrayed if it is not duly passed on as, by analogy, any knowledge or truth that is not passed on is condemned as a betrayal. Abraham's merits - his faith, his obedience and his heroism - should always be celebrated, even as our focus is on God. For Mr. Korsia, the fact of being a child of Abraham means to understand what Abraham experienced, to respond to God's call, and to be able to adapt to each new horizon that comes. Thus, it is Abraham himself who can open up the possibility of being children of Abraham, and therefore God’s children.
Acknowledging the balance and complementarity of three religions, Mr. Korsia emphasized the values found in all of us: faith, love, submission to God and acceptance of God.
Archbishop Lépine, on the other hand, focused on the essential points of peace, faith, dialogue, discrimination, fraternity and the heritage of Abraham. From the beginning, Abraham's life unfolded according to God's sovereign will. One of Abraham's great legacies is that God comes looking for us and speaks to us. He speaks to our hearts, and He speaks of peace, of the other: our neighbour, our brother or sister. And eeven though this may take time, even decades, generations or centuries, for Msgr. Lépine, Abraham is always a source of inspiration because he will lead us to God.
Following in Abraham's footsteps, Archbishop Lépine spoke about peace on behalf of each individual, for families, religious communities and societies, as well as about faith which is both considering God and considering the other - seeing the other as my brother or sister: "My faith journey tells me that my consideration of God influences my consideration of the other," he stated.
According to Archbishop Lépine, God invites us to this conference-encounter in order to do away with prejudice. "Interfaith dialogue is important, because it breaks down our prejudices," he said.
Following in the footsteps of the children of Abraham, Dr. Skali made it very clear that Abraham's heritage brings us closer to our spiritual inheritance and values. He also spoke glowingly about the need for inter-religious encounters, which bring about such possibilities to experience the meeting of reason and faith, humanism and spirituality, raising consciousness and living together in this world from a spiritual perspective.
"Among the extraordinary things that happen at these encounters is a relationship of thought, reflection, a developing philosophy and a better vision of the world that make a difference," he said. Faced with the popular uprisings that some young people may experience in difficult contexts and in certain countries, it is imperative to teach them the meaning of peace, of moderation, of respect for others and of dignity.
In summary, the interfaith conference-encounter was rich in content, encouraging the free sharing of love among the three religions that claim the inheritance of Abraham. In concrete terms, this translates into the many shared values of faith, human love, fraternity, unity, compassion, empathy, God's faithfulness, faithfulness, submission, obedience, diversity, peace, sharing and living together. It means that, as the man who is the ancestor of the chosen people, Abraham remains the one through whom we may receive the gracious gifts of God.
Watch the full conference on our YouTube channel!