August 5, 2013
The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola said “during this time of prayer and fasting we hope to instill confidence and courage in promoting a dialogue and overall cooperation based on our mutual love of God and neighbor.” The message was sent to the Milanese Muslims community and its leaders to acknowledge the end of Ramadan. In the letter, Scola points out that Christians and Muslims share “similar challenges and similar responsibilities.”
Based on these challenges and responsibilities, the archbishop believes that the most significant requirement is “including notions of mutual respect without ignoring the individuality of each religion.” The message, sent in both Italian and Arabic, will be delivered by the representatives of the diocese to various places in the diocese’s territory where Muslims celebrate the Eid aliftir, during the morning of August 8.
“There are bastions to be removed but avenues to reach out to all humanity” said Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan during the opening Monday of the Milan headquarters of the Oasis Foundation, which promotes dialogue between the West and Islam. The Oasis International Foundation was started in Venice in 2003 by the Patriarch to support communities of Christians living in Muslim-majority countries. It operates through its offices in Rome, Venice and Milan and now also articulates its initiatives on various levels.
SAN GIULIANO – “The new Milan is there” said the Cardinal “You have to look to the metropolis Milan in a totally different. ” The understanding of Islam by Christians, said Scola, is still very low despite growing immigration. Indeed, “there is a great indifference in Europe and the United States about Islam. We are literally ignorant. If we ask for the average Christian about Islam, we have answers that are detrimental.”
THE ROLE OF MILAN – Scola stressed that “Milan is bridge and opportunity to learn from the West and be aware of the new reality and how we should proceed in an accepting interreligious society.” Milan, said Scola “in hindsight is the only true Italian metropolis, because Rome is a large shopping center with a huge variety of neighborhoods around. Instead Milan interacts with other major European cities and the rest of Italy.”
THE MOSQUE – When asked about the construction of a large mosque in Milan, Scola said that a place of worship is essential to be able to exercise religious freedom. But the construction must meet certain criteria. “On one hand” said Scola “the place of worship must part of the new Milan, real and genuine. At the same time we must take account the tradition and history, and therefore the way in which the dialogue between all religions and faiths are balanced in the creation of religious spaces for everyone.”
Leading cardinal Angelo Scola called on the Islamic world to allow individual Muslims the freedom to convert to Christianity. The call comes following the death threats posed against Italian journalist Magdi Allam, concerning his conversion from Islam to Catholicism. Scola said that no one, including Muslims could impose the identity of the community to a point where it violates the human freedom of the individual, including the freedom to convert. Cardinal Scola stated that he does not want to see the end of Muslim societies or cultures, but stressed that the prerogative should be the individual, and to ensure that freedom of religion was an inalienable right.