SUN 8 - 12 - 2019
Feb 7, 2019
The Daily Star
Pope: UAE trip wrote new page in Christian-Islam history
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis says his pilgrimage this week to the United Arab Emirates wrote a “new page in history of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam” and in promoting world peace based on brotherhood. Telling pilgrims at the Vatican Wednesday about making the first-ever papal trip to the Arabian Peninsula, Francis described his encounter with leaders of Islam as a counterpoint to the “strong temptation” to contend there’s a current clash between Christian and Islamic civilizations.
Francis was referring to a document he signed during the trip with Sheik Ahmad al-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque and university, one of the most authoritative theological and educational institutions in Islam.
The pope said the “Document on Human Fraternity” was proof “it is possible to respect each other and hold dialogue, and that despite differences in culture and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values.”
The document, signed Monday, called on “all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.”
He invited everyone to read the document, saying it would offer ideas on how individuals can work for tolerance and coexistence.
Ultra-conservative Catholics have been opposed to any dialogue with Islam, with some saying its ultimate goal is to destroy the West.
On the plane returning from Abu Dhabi Tuesday, a reporter asked Francis about possible negative reaction to the document by Catholics “who accuse you of allowing yourself to be used by Muslims.”
Francis, a progressive who has been in the crosshairs of conservatives since his election in 2013, responded with a joke: “Not only the Muslims. They accuse me of allowing myself to be used by everyone, even journalists. It’s part of the job.”
But he said “from a Catholic point of view, the document had not strayed a millimeter” from teachings on inter-religious dialogue approved by the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.
“If anyone feels bad, I understand. It is not an everyday thing. But it is a step forward,” he said on the plane.
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