Pope Francis Prays in Mosque in Show of Commitment to Christian-Muslim Relations

ISTANBUL— Pope Francis further demonstrated his commitment to improving relations between Christians and Muslims on Saturday, as he prayed in Istanbul’s historic Blue Mosque and visited the Hagia Sophia—two powerful symbols of the Muslim and Christian faiths.

On the second of a three-day trip to Turkey, the pontiff removed his shoes before entering the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles embellishing its walls. After a tour of the cavernous 17th-century mosque, he stood alongside Istanbul Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran, facing in the direction of Mecca, and bowed his head in long prayer.

The move was an important public demonstration of Pope Francis’ commitment to Christian-Muslim dialogue. Some have raised questions as to whether such dialogue is fruitful given the persecution of Christians by Islamic extremists.

On Friday, the pope demanded that all religions enjoy the same rights, a veiled reference to the problems that Christians still suffer in Turkey, where about 99% of the population is Muslim. Christian communities complain that they struggle to gain permits to rebuild or refurbish buildings and say the government has been slow to follow through on promises to return properties confiscated decades ago.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 

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Prominent Muslim figures welcome Pope’s visit to Istanbul

Islamic HDR Wallpapers, Islamic architect 5Clerics hope the visit will shed light on Islam

Two prominent Muslim religious figures in Turkey have welcomed the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to their country, saying they hoped it could shed light on the “peace” of Islam and help change bad images associated with that religion.

At Istanbul’s famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque – often referred to as the Blue Mosque because of the turquoise tiles that adorn the early 17th-century structure – Ishak Kizilaslan said Muslims welcomed “everyone coming to us in a good way”.

Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to the mosque is important because the Pope will learn from mixing with those worshipping inside that “Islam is always peace,” Kizilaslan, the mosque’s head imam, or Muslim preacher, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview last week.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC HERALD (UK) 

Turkey, religious freedom and Christian-Muslim dialogue

Turkey0438_resize-LBy: Victor Gaetan

Sourcehttp://www.ncregister.com/

Thankfully, there are places where the simple coexistence of faithful Christians and Muslims is a joy to witness.

In a peaceful grove of trees overlooking the ancient city of Ephesus stands a dignified one-story stone abode called Mary’s House, widely considered to be where the Virgin Mary lived her last years.

Pilgrims — including Muslims, for whom Mary is honored as the virgin mother of Jesus, a great prophet — visit, pray and light candles. In fact, Mary is the woman most frequently mentioned in the Quran and the only one referred to by name.

Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in front of the house on his pilgrimage to Turkey in 2006. Pope John Paul II came in 1979, as did Pope Paul VI in 1967.

The last papal visit underscored the Catholic Church’s hope that Turkey, an emerging economic geopolitical giant — not to mention a massive land bridge joining Europe to the Middle East and Asia — can model positive dialogue between the world’s two global religious powers: Christianity and Islam.

Even faced with the suspicious murder of several clerics, the Catholic Church has forged ahead with dialogue. Most chilling, in 2010, Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia and President of the Turkish Bishop’s Conference, was beheaded by his driver as he prepared to meet Pope Benedict the next day on the island of Cyprus.

So how is Turkey progressing, and what are the Church’s current expectations for a country known as Asia Minor in the New Testament and the birthplace of St. Paul?

A Franciscan friar, hesitant to be named, who lives near Mary’s House, reflected on the Turkish state of affairs: “Few Catholics live in Turkey, and Christians overall live on the margins. But look, here, this shrine is beautiful, and we’ve been allowed to develop it, enhance it. Everyone watches Prime Minister [Recep] Erdoğan intensely for signs of progress.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM MUSLIMVILLAGE.COM

Turkey, Religious Freedom and the Current State of Christian-Muslim Dialogue

cr_mega_571_wulff-2SELÇUK, Turkey — Thankfully, there are places where the simple coexistence of faithful Christians and Muslims is a joy to witness.

In a peaceful grove of trees overlooking the ancient city of Ephesus stands a dignified one-story stone abode called Mary’s House, widely considered to be where the Virgin Mary lived her last years.

Pilgrims — including Muslims, for whom Mary is honored as the virgin mother of Jesus, a great prophet — visit, pray and light candles. In fact, Mary is the woman most frequently mentioned in the Quran and the only one referred to by name.

Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in front of the house on his pilgrimage to Turkey in 2006. Pope John Paul II came in 1979, as did Pope Paul VI in 1967.

The last papal visit underscored the Catholic Church’s hope that Turkey, an emerging economic geopolitical giant — not to mention a massive land bridge joining Europe to the Middle East and Asia — can model positive dialogue between the world’s two global religious powers: Christianity and Islam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER