Pope Pens Personal Message to Muslims at Ramadan’s end

VATICAN CITY: In message published on Friday (Aug. 2), Pope Francis took the rare step of personally expressing his “esteem … Continued

VATICAN CITY: In message published on Friday (Aug. 2), Pope Francis took the rare step of personally expressing his “esteem and friendship” to the world’s Muslims as they prepare to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast.

While it is a long-established Vatican practice to send messages to the world’s religious leaders on their major holy days, those greetings are usually signed by the Vatican’s department for interfaith dialogue.

In his message, Francis explains that in the first year of his papacy he wanted to personally greet Muslims, “especially those who are religious leaders.”

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had fraught relations with Muslims. In a 2006 speech he quoted a Byzantine emperor who said Muhammad had only brought “evil and inhuman” things to the world, sparking a worldwide crisis in Christian-Muslim relations.

In subsequent years, he worked hard to mend ties with Muslims and visited three mosques. But he never fully succeeded in dispelling mistrust among Muslim religious leaders.

Since the beginning of his pontificate, Francis has stressed that he places a high value on dialogue with other religions.

In one of his first public speeches, on March 22, he announced he wanted to “intensify dialogue among the various religions,” adding: “And I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.”

In his Friday Ramadan message, Francis highlighted the importance of educating Muslim and Christian youth to respect each other’s religion.

“We have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices,” he wrote.

The pope also said that “particular respect” must be given “to religious leaders and to places of worship.” ‘’How painful are attacks on one or other of these!” he added.

Francis’ move, while rare, is not unprecedented. Pope John Paul II in 1991 chose to pen the Ramadan message himself as a sign of solidarity with Muslims in the wake of the Gulf War.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • leibowde84

    This Pope is really turning out to be great! One step at a time, but this is a great move.

  • leibowde84

    We all worship the same God anyways, right?

  • Hildy J

    His message on gays was nice and seemed to indicate a new tone. This, on the other hand, is a White House christmas card.

    Benedict did the same thing. I would guess it’s a long standing tradition. The key message from Benedict’s last year was: the importance of educating young Muslims and Christians toward justice and peace; young people of both religions should cultivate freedom and truth in order to build a culture that respects the rights and dignity of every citizen. Sounds about the same to me.

    It’s getting to be like ESPN and their Tebow idolatry from a few years ago. Lord help us if Francis ever develops a signature move. YouTube will be flooded with people Francising.