Catholic-Muslim Relations: Vatican And Al-Azhar Mosque In Cairo To Relaunch Dialogue

pope_gives_sheik_of_al-azhar_medallion_of_the_olive_of_peacrThe Vatican has announced it will send a representative to Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque on Sunday ahead of an official resumption of dialogue between the Catholic Church’s governing body and the most prestigious learning center in Sunni Islam.

Al-Azhar broke off talks with the Vatican five years ago after comments from then-Pope Benedict XVI. But relations have improved significantly under Pope Francis, who earlier this year held talks with the grand imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, considered the highest authority in Sunni Islam.

Now, it has been announced that the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, will set off to Cairo to meet a delegation with Al-Azhar. The meeting is intended to lay the groundwork for a further encounter in Rome in April 2017, reports the Catholic News Agency which describes it as a seismic step in Catholic-Muslim relations.

The relationship first became strained after a speech by the since-retired Benedict in 2006 when he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor’s unfavorable views of Islam’s founder.

“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the Pope said. “He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'”

In 2011, Egypt recalled its Vatican envoy after Benedict called on world leaders to protect Copts – the largest Christian denomination in Egypt – following a church bombing in the country that killed 21 people.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES 

Christians And Muslims Play Football To Combat Extremism

kashif-siddiqui-with-pope-francis-in-romeChristians and Muslims are working together for peace – through the medium of football, a British Muslim told a United Nations meeting in Istanbul.

British Pakistani professional footballer Kashif Siddiqi, co-founder of Football for Peace, told the United Nations Alliance of Civilisation how young footballers could be valuable in countering violent extremism among youth.

He was joined by Dutch footballer Wesley Sneijder, who plays for Turkish club Galatasaray and was named as one of the three best midfielders in the world by FIFA in 2010, as well as Turkish International player Oğuzhan Özyakup.

Siddiqi was in Istanbul after addressing a conference in Rome last week.

“Football is the one universal language that evaporates language, cultural and religious barriers the world over,” said Siddiqi. “It is fundamentally the greatest way to diffuse tensions and turn down the heat between competing factions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY 

 

Pope Leads Interfaith Peace Meeting in Assisi

65ce7f9a-a809-4605-aff9-a92d04f0f160_cx0_cy6_cw0_w987_r1_s_r1(Vatican Radio)  Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religious leaders applauded the “Spirit of Assisi” in interreligious meetings launched by Pope St. John Paul II thirty years ago in the Italian hill town.  At the conclusion of a four day peace summit of interfaith leaders in Assisi, representatives who addressed the gathering thanked Pope Francis for, in the words of the Muslim representative from Indonesia, “his endless commitment for peace.” Pope Francis arrived in Assisi Tuesday morning to attend the final day of the meeting, organized by the Sant Egidio lay community.

Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Indonesian Council of Ulama, expressed “high appreciation” to the lay Community of Sant’Egidio for “having kept alive the spirit of Assisi” by organizing the event each year.  Noting that Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, Chairman Syamsuddin said the cooperation “has brought concrete fruits of peace such as our common work in interfaith dialogue, peace education among youth, peace process and conflict resolution in Mindanao, South Philippines.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM RADIO VATICAN 

Christians, Muslims unite against terrorism, weapons of mass destruction

pope-francis-with-sheikh-ahmed-el-tayebAt a time when religion seems to be one of the causes of division in the world, it is always good to hear news about how people from different faiths are uniting for a common cause.

American Catholic bishops joined hands with Shia Muslim religious leaders as they recently released a joint statement condemning terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

The joint declaration, entitled “Gathered In The Name of God,” highlighted how both religions value life and aspire for peace. It was signed by Catholic Church officials such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“Christianity and Islam share a commitment to love and respect for the life, dignity, and welfare of all members of the human community,” the religious leaders said in the joint declaration, as quoted by The Catholic News Agency.

“Peaceful coexistence is built on equity and justice. We call upon all to work toward developing a culture of encounter, tolerance, dialogue, and peace that respects the religious traditions of others,” they said.

The declaration also rejected “all acts of terrorism” and destructive weapons, encouraging countries around the world to shun these forms of warfare.

“Together we are working for a world without weapons of mass destruction. We call on all nations to reject acquiring such weapons and call on those who possess them to rid themselves of these indiscriminate weapons, including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons,” the document stated.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY 

Pope: Christian-Muslim dialogue essential for peace

20151127_pope_ss-slide-WPPU-jumboNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Pope Francis told Christian and Muslim leaders in Kenya on Thursday that they have little choice but to engage in dialogue to guard against the “barbarous” Islamic extremist attacks that have struck Kenya, saying they need to be “prophets of peace.”

Francis met with a small group of Kenya’s faith leaders before celebrating his first public Mass on the continent, a joyful, rain-soaked celebration of an estimated 300,000 faithful, including Kenya’s president. The Argentine pope, who has never been to Africa before, was treated to ululating Swahili singers, swaying nuns, Maasai tribesmen and traditional dancers at the Mass on the grounds of the University of Nairobi.

On his first full day in Kenya, Francis received a raucous welcome from the crowd as he zoomed around in his open-sided popemobile, some 10,000 police providing security. Some people had been at the university since 3 a.m., braving heavy showers that turned the grounds into thick puddles of mud. Others waited in queues 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) deep to get close to the venue.

But the size of the crowd — estimated by both police and the Vatican — was far smaller than the 1.4 million that Kenyan authorities had expected after declaring Thursday a national holiday. Vatican officials had predicted a maximum of a half-million people, and the lower number was likely due in large part to the weather.

FULL ARTICLE FROM KRQE NEWS 13 

How controversial is it to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

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A tenured Wheaton College professor could soon be terminated because of a Facebook post in which she wrote that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

In a post last December that included pictures of her wearing a headscarf, Larycia Hawkins, who teaches political science at the private evangelical Christian college in Illinois, shared her religious sentiments.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.” Hawkins wrote. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Hawkins was referring to Pope Francis’s speech in which he said thatChristians and Muslims are “brothers and sisters.”

The Pope’s expression of theological unity between Christians and Muslims may be uncontroversial among many of the world’s Catholics and some mainline Protestants, but many Evangelicals take a different view.

A December 22 statement released by Wheaton College clarified that their decision to suspend Dr. Hawkins was due to theological reasons entirely based on Hawkins comments, which violated the college’s statement of faith, and not because she wore a hijab, as some news outlets had reported.

“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer,” the College wrote in the statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Pope Francis: ‘Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters’

_86949825_86949824Pope Francis has told worshippers in a mosque in the Central African Republic that “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters”.

He was speaking to Muslims who had sought shelter in the capital Bangui after nearly three years of violence between Christians and Muslims.

The mosque visit was seen as perhaps the most difficult part of his Africa tour, a BBC correspondent says

Pope Francis then held the final Mass of his Africa trip in Bangui.

He was speaking in Latin, which was then translated into the local Sango language.

His message of reconciliation appeared to have an immediate impact, as a reporter from the AFP news agency spotted a group of Muslim rebels turn up at the Mass wearing t-shirts with the Pope’s image on them.

The Pope has now left the CAR at the end of his six-day visit to the continent.

More than 100,000 Muslims fled the capital as a result of the fighting but 15,000 are left in an area called PK5, according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC