Editorial Pope Francis visits to UAE and Morocco new page in Christian-Islam history

Editorial

Pope Francis visits to UAE and Morocco new page in Christian-Islam history

It has been reported that Pope Francis will be visiting Morocco end of this month where he will meet migrants and visit a training institute for imams who seek to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism. During his visit Pope Francis will meet with King Mohammded VI as well as countries’ priests and Muslim Imams and celebrate Mass for the Catholic community. His meeting with migrants will take place at the Vatican’s Caritas charity. Pope is also planning to a visit a social center outside Rabat.

It comes on the heels of Pope’s visit to the UAE in February where he signed a landmark “fraternity” document with the Grand Sheikh of Jami’aal-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb. This document is called -A document on human fraternity for world peace and living together. Pope Francis said his pilgrimage 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. A Papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula was something very new indeed.

The document states: “Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media.”

Furthermore it states” Terrorism is due to “an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. ”Dialogue between Christianity and Islam needs to be a key factor for peace in the world today”, the pontiff said. “A new page in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in efforts to promote peace in the world based on human brotherhood.”

Pope Francis noted that it was the “first time that a Pope visited the Arabian peninsula” and that “providence wanted it to be a Pope called Francis, 800 years after the visit of founder of Franciscan orders, St Francis of Assisi to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt.

The pontiff in particular recalled he has signed with the grand imam of al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races in which “we condemn all forms of violence, especially when it is motivated by religion and we pledge to promote authentic values and peace worldwide”.

The pontiff said UAE has grown a lot over the past few decades becoming a “crossroads between East and West, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious ‘oasis’ and thus the right place to promote the culture of encounter”.  Pope Francis delivered his homily in Italian, with consecutive Arabic translation. He spoke of the Sermon on the Mount, and he stressed the power of Christians to maintain their faith even in conditions of weakness, poverty, and oppression.

The Pope’s visit was advertised as the UAE’s gift to the many thousands of Catholic guest workers, including nearly 700,000 from the Philippines alone. This was a good calculated move by the Vatican to bring an end to long lasting hostilities between Christianity and Islam. It is milestone in interfaith relations.

Zakaria Virk, Editor

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