Pope wants Church to ‘intensify’ dialogue with Islam

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Pope Francis AP PHOTO

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Friday called for the Roman Catholic Church to “intensify” its dialogue with Islam, echoing hopes in the Muslim world for better ties with the Vatican during his reign.

“It is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam,” the new pontiff said in an address to foreign ambassadors at the Vatican.

Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI was seen by some Muslim leaders as hostile to Islam and the change at the top had been welcomed by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Saudi-based OIC, said earlier this month that he hoped “the relationship between Islam and Christianity will regain its cordiality and sincere friendship”.

Mahmud Azab, adviser for inter-faith affairs to Al-Azhar imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb in Cairo, also told AFP earlier: “As soon as a new policy emerges, we will resume the dialogue with the Vatican”.

Al-Azhar broke off ties in 2011 after Benedict called for the protection of Christian minorities following a suicide bombing at a church in Egypt.

Benedict was also heavily criticized early in his reign when he recounted a Byzantine emperor’s description of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed as a warmonger who spread evil teachings.

In his address on Friday, Francis also called for the Church to dialogue more with non-believers — returning to an effort begun during Benedict’s reign amid rising secularism in the Western world.

“It is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail but rather the desire to build true links of friendship,” he said.

The Argentine pope said he wanted to “build bridges connecting all people” and said this was particularly significant for him personally because of his own Italian immigrant roots.

“This dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me,” he said.

Francis referred to it as a “dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent”.

The 76-year-old pope elected last week has named himself after St Francis of Assisi — a mediaeval Italian saint who shunned riches to live a life of poverty, and he said he wanted the Church to struggle against poverty in all its forms.

“How many poor people there still are in the world!” he said, adding that there was also a “spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called rich countries particularly seriously”.

In a further indication of the humble image he has projected ever since being elected last Wednesday, the pope earlier on Thursday celebrated a mass for Vatican gardeners and rubbish collectors.

The Vatican said earlier he will hold a special pre-Easter mass next week in a youth prison during which he will wash the feet of 12 young offenders in a traditional Catholic ritual representing Jesus Christ’s actions with his 12 apostles.

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  • bogli_anakdami

    … i would rather see si allah, jchrist, god, lordy lord, santa ate cory, santo manalo, santo card sin, santa ate glo, et al, do the gang nam dance… or the electric slide…
    … yun lang…

    • BOYPDAF

      ur comment is non sense..mind like yours should vanish maybe ur an aethiest

      • bogli_anakdami

        … typical flip gung gong… it’s “non sense” to you… use your kukote to think logically… relidiot…

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    * * * * * * * * * *
    This is good news for mankind. The other Abrahamic religion should be invited and included in the talks. A sort of non-proliferation pact could be forged—-the first step toward a complete voluntary disarmament and dissolution treaty under the United Nations’ sponsorship and guidance. And perhaps, in the generations to come, that one elusive freedom—-the mother of all wars and misunderstanding among humans—-could be in practical sight and realizable.

    • Hfxwst

      You realize, this would force the Philippines to have a divorce law. No room for legislated Catholic doctrine in a respectful multi religious country.

    • marionics

      this has the same impact on me as a directive from the ayatollah he he

    • agaylaya

      Agree. But it all starts by reawakening individuals, then communities, then nations, then mankind. We need a miracle to do this and Pope Francis might be that miracle.

  • Hfxwst

    OK CBCP – get off your butts and let’s see what you can do here! Time to do something other than eat, drink and lobby!

  • generalproblem

    bat pa makikipag dialog sa islam. pinapatay ng mga indonesian muslim ang mga christian sa indonesia.

  • Hey_Dudes

    Mr. Pope, right now, your problem is not with ISLAM. It’s more on a particular group calling themselves CBCP in the Philippines that’s creating a stink in your religion. Their meddling ways in government need to be nipped once and for all.

  • Noel

    What does he want? Covert Muslims to Catholics? I’ve seen lots of Catholics being converted to Islam and not much the other way.

  • go88

    ‘Mahmud Azab, adviser for inter-faith affairs to Al-Azhar imam Ahmed
    al-Tayyeb in Cairo, also told AFP earlier: “As soon as a new policy
    emerges, we will resume the dialogue with the Vatican”.

    Al-Azhar broke off ties in 2011 after Benedict called for the
    protection of Christian minorities following a suicide bombing at a
    church in Egypt.’

    That’s the kind of bas.trds the pope intends to dialogue with?

  • agaylaya

    Pope Francis scares me or probably what the modern media is doing that scares me. Modern media is projecting powerful images of a leader with Christ like qualities. But media can create and destroy images. Just like Christ who was glorified one day and crucified the next, Pope Francis will one day be pilloried. And the Pope and the Church have real enemies who will do everything to destroy both..

  • virgoyap

    Thru Pope Francis, he indeed brought back the spirit of Aggiornamento of Vatican II.

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