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Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Pope meets with Muslim envoys
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 Yesterday morning, in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received representatives from Muslim-majority countries that maintain diplomatic links with the Holy See and Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue,. Participating in the meeting were heads of mission from Kuwait, Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, Albania, the Arab League, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Iran and Azerbaijan. Also present were 14 members of the Islamic Council of Italy and representatives from the Italian Islamic Cultural Centre and the Office of the World Muslim League. Following a brief greeting by Cardinal Poupard, Benedict XVI explained how he had called the meeting "in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world." "I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers," he continued in his French-language address. "I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians." "In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together. "Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor Pope John Paul II," he added, "I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences. "Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue," the Pope continued, "is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. "Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence. As for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction." Benedict XVI then highlighted how "the lessons of the past" must "help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful co-operation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco: 'Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between peoples'." The Holy Father concluded his address by expressing his profound conviction "that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, Who wishes all people to live in the dignity that He has bestowed upon them." But in a BBC interview, the ambassador of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, pointed out that the Pope had not referred directly to the speech which sparked the controversy. "We had hoped that there would have been a dialogue, but that was not the case," Bambang Prayitno said. Federico Lombardi, Benedict's spokesman, said the meeting was "certainly a sign that dialogue is returning to normal after moments of ... misunderstanding." Source: VIS/ICN
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