Pope Francis wants a meeting with Christians, Jews and Muslims in Rome

May 30, 2013

Pope Francis will be attending a summit in Rome between the leaders of the three great monotheistic religions to launch a message of peace against violence and terrorism.

Pope Francis is planning to organize a meeting in Rome between Christians, Muslims and Jews, as Israeli government sources revealed after a meeting between the Pope and Shimon Peres. The meeting between the leaders of the three monotheistic religions as designed by the Pope should be used to convey a message of peace and to clarify that all religion is opposed to violence. In particular religions do not condone the use of God to justify brutality and terrorism.


The Muslim community of Cagliari: “We also want to welcome the Pope” Sulaiman Hijazi

May 16, 2013

Muslims also want to welcome to Cagliari “with joy” the news of the visit of Pope Francis to the city. “The Muslim world just saw the new Pope, and immediately hoped for a change in the Church, especially with regard to an interreligious dialogue,” said the spokesman of the Islamic community Sulaiman Hijazi.

“The majority of Muslims in Cagliari seem happy to welcome Pope Francis and hope that is the right time to build a more solid relationship between Christians and Muslims. “We are talking about people who come from war zones such as Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan and, therefore, need a kind of moral support which was missed by Pope Benedict XVI,” the spokesman said, adding “I think Pope Francis will give a renewal to the church.” Hijazi also asked “to be able to be present, along with the imam, to welcome him on his arrival in the city.”

Victims of Islam, the Pope Canonizes 800 Martyrs from Otranto



Pope Francis: Many Christians still suffer violence today. Today we canonize the 800 who died in Otranto, killed by Muslims in 1480

Tens of thousands of people gathered starting in the early hours of the morning in St. Peter’s Square where the Pope canonized his first saints: the 800 Martyrs of Otranto and two Colombian and Mexican nuns. “Today” said the Pope “the Church canonizes a host of martyrs, who were called together in supreme witness to the Gospel in 1480.” On the facade of the basilica, as is tradition, the drapes were hung with effigies of the new saints. “About eight hundred people” the Pope said “stopped the invasion of the Ottomans and were beheaded near that town.”

Papa Francesco “inherits” the canonization of these saints which was proposed by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11 and officially announced on May 12. In addition to the 800 martyrs of Otranto, there were two nuns who founded religious orders: the Colombian Laura Montoya y Upegui and the Mexican María Guadalupe Garcia Zabala.
Today Francis Pope recalled the sacrifice of the martyrs of Otranto, “where did they find the strength to remain faithful? Just in faith, beyond the boundaries of earthly life, they contemplated the heavens and Christ at the right hand of the Father.” The 800 Martyrs of Otranto saved Italy and its Catholic identity allowing the country to remain Christian,” says Cardinal Amato explaining that this event helped to stop Muslim expansion in Europe, even before the battle of Lepanto (1571) and before the siege Vienna (1683).

It is Appropriate for Muslims to participate in Holy Thursday?

March 28, 2013

“It was fine to include Muslims and women” said the Father Federico Lombardi, Director of Media at the Vatican, who was asked about the Pope’s recent trip to Casal Del Marmo Jail where he washed the feet of women: a serious departure from Papal tradition. The Pope also gave mass in the prison to an interfaith congregation, which included Muslims.


Pope Francis encourages “friendship between different religions”

March 20, 2013

Pope Francis wanted to give a strong signal to representatives of other faiths, “the Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions” said the Pope.

Francis greeted and thanked all those who belong to other religious traditions, “first and foremost Muslims, who worship the one God, those who are merciful and call upon him in prayer. I really appreciate your presence and your new willingness to grow mutual respect and cooperation for the common good. ”

The Islamic world gave a positive response, with the International Union of Muslim scholars who said they were ready to resume dialogue with the Vatican after the election of the new pope. The organization led by Yusuf Al Qaradawi had previously cut off all communication with Pope Ratzinger because of his position on Islam was considered hostile.

Pope Francis has been ‘a friend’ to Jews and Muslims in Buenos Aires

Pope Francis has always been open to dialogues with other religions. During his time in Buenos Aires, he continually supported open avenues of communication with non-Christian communities. The ex-Cardinal would visit other religious centers before major holidays. The secretary of the Islamic Center of Argentina (CIRA), Sumer Noufouri, said he considers Pope Francis’ a sincere friend of the Islamic community. Sheik Ali Mohsen, head of the House for the Spread of Islam, also describes the Pope as “a true friend of our community and he visited my mosque.” Ali also recalls the proverbial austerity of the new Pope when he visited the Cardinal’s headquarters, “his humility impressed me: the room was a small wicker chair and a few soft chairs. He sat in the wicker chairs and left us the comfortable armchairs.”

Holy Land: Christians and Muslims remember Pope Benedict the XVI



During the past few days, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Druze and greek-orthodox organized moments of prayer and initiatives to commemorate Benedict XVI as they all await the election the new Successor. Some communities even asked Muslims to express their opinion of Pope Benedict XVI. Many cited the Regensburg speech, in which, according to this article, the Pope’s words were misunderstood.

Pope Benedict XVI and Turkey’s Muslims – The Eternal Theologian

Pope Benedict XVI was only just in the process of becoming a Pope. He will be remembered by the Turks as someone who got lost in this process. How Turkish Muslims viewed Benedict XVI. By Kerim Balci

The Turks often view global events from the perspective of their own domestic politics. In Turkey, the unexpected abdication of Pope Benedict XVI was compared with the recent resignations of politicians forced to step down from office because of incriminating videos. It is alleged that in the case of the Pope, it was an unknown video – which in all probability does not even exist – that triggered his decision. “He was forced to accept the post and forced to step down” – is the prevailing Turkish view of the voluntary resignation of the Pope.

The clandestine Vatican, power struggles in the vaults of St. Peter’s and the poor elected Pope, without allies and without power – the Turks’ perception of a conspiratorial Vatican is older than that of their own corrupt state. During the Pope’s visit to Turkey in late 2006, seen as an act of reconciliation following his controversial Regensburg address, Turkish bookshops displayed badly written attempts to emulate the work of Dan Brown. One of them is the work of a certain Yücel Kaya and bears the title: “Who Will Kill the Pope in Istanbul?”

Never fitted the same mould as his predecessor

Kaya probably had little appreciation of the potential explosiveness of such an issue. The attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II in the year 1981 by Turkish ultranationalist Mehmet Ali Agca was seen as the revelation of what is known as the Third Secret of Fátima. The prophecy of three shepherd children from the Portuguese town dates from the early 20th century and was long kept secret by the Vatican. It was eventually made public in the year 2000 by Joseph Ratzinger, among others.

Following Ratzinger’s advice, John Paul II. used the “Third Secret” as a confirmation of himself as God’s chosen Pope, serving the Church until his death when God willed it. It was alleged that this was a tactical move intended to cancel out the arguments of those demanding the resignation of the Pope due to old age. Using the prophecy to consolidate the papal contract was either the clever idea of his future successor Ratzinger, or of the Pope himself.

At least in the eyes of the average Turk, Pope Benedict XVI never fitted the same mould as his predecessor. In contrast to John Paul II Benedict XVI again wore the traditional red papal slippers. This did nothing to change the fact that for Turkey, the Pope still had a Polish face. An image that has been indelibly etched on the collective memory of the Turks.

The lapse of Regensburg

He never managed to free himself from the persona of the German theologian Dr. Joseph Ratzinger. This is exemplified by the charitable organisation “Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI Foundation”, set up by his students. While most of its income is derived from the sale of the papal writings of Benedict XVI, the foundation’s declared goal is “to promote theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger”.

This “spirit of Joseph Ratzinger” haunted the Pope during his speech at the University of Regensburg in September 2006, when he infringed upon the sensitivity of the Muslim world with the apparently unintentional accusation that Islam is a religion that has not contributed to the advance of human civilisation.

In order to undo the damage inflicted by Ratzinger’s reference to comments made by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, Benedict XVI travelled to Istanbul where he met – the Hagia Sophia as a potential location for prayers – urban Muslims for silent prayers at the Blue Mosque, his face aligned in the direction of Mecca. Just as his critical comments had done before, this gesture also had a far-reaching impact.

Trying to reset Catholic-Muslim dialogue

For the Turks ascribed a particular significance to this shared prayer session: Even though the Pope had not been entirely “forgiven” for the Regensburg lecture, many gained the impression that he had drawn a painful lesson from his error and was now ready to reset exchange between the Catholic and Muslim world.

They were not far wrong with this assessment. Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Directorate of Religious Affairs, an unprecedented event in the history of Turkey. The directorate decided to take part in the summit of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, which convened at the Vatican for the first time in 2008.

Benedict XVI also helped give the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) a new lease on life by restoring its former independent status. The council, to which the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims is also affiliated, was placed under the leadership of the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, thereby robbing it of its autonomy. But in 2007, the council was again given its own President, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and is now at least as proactive as it was during the papacy of John Paul II. But the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims continues to lack autonomy – in contrast to the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

Catholic-Muslim bonds put to the test

The durability of Catholic-Muslim bonds was put to the test on further occasions during Benedict’s papacy: once by the murder of the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon in 2006; and again in 2010 by the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, the Pope’s apostolic vicar in Anatolia. The Vatican did not criticise the Turkish government or Turkish Islam following these attacks. In actual fact, the families of the murdered men devoted the pain of their loss into opening up new channels of interfaith dialogue.

But in the end, Benedict XVI’s Muslim interlocutors appeared to be more interested in interfaith dialogue than could be said of the Pope himself. While John Paul II had to wait two decades for a response from the Muslim world to the “Nostra Aetate” declaration of 1964 regarding interfaith exchange, Benedict XVI tried to do justice to a network of Muslims in leading positions from the entire Muslim world willing to enter into dialogue.

This is how the Catholic-Muslim Forum was founded, in response to an open letter from 138 Muslim theologians calling for peace and cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Muslim world. It was a dialogue long advocated not only by the Directorate of Religious Affairs, but also important religious organisations such as the Gülen movement.

No one attempted to kill the Pope in Istanbul. But if you bear in mind the Turks’ susceptibility to conspiracy theories, it would not come as a surprise to see bestselling books on the shelves of Turkish bookshops with titles such as: “Who Forced the Pope’s Resignation in Rome?”

Kerim Balci

Reactions to the Pope’s Resignation in the Arab World

Ilsussidiario.it (the subsidiary) 12 February 2013 Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will be stepping down at the end of month. Many news outlets have begun to discuss this pope’s relations with Muslims as well as how a future pope may interact with the Muslim faith. The Subsidiary published an overview of the Pope’s interactions with Muslims and the Muslim world understandings of the Pope. Egyptian professor, Wael Farouq is interviewed. According to Dr. Farouq the first reaction in the Arab world to the Pope’s resignation has been primarily silence. Many felt the pope was promulgating a very different and violent understanding of Islam particularly in his Regensburg speech. Also according to the article Dr. Farouq feels the Pope did not sufficiently create an open inter-faith dialogue.

ANSAmed 13 February 2013 also published a story on the Pope’s resignation primarily focusing on the Al Azhar campus and Muslim youth’s reactions to the Pope—which are not positive. The article explains that though many did not know of the resignation all agreed that the following pope needs to show respect for the Muslim faith.