· Pope confirms esteem and friendship with Muslims in his letter for the end of Ramadan ·
He stresses the pain caused by attacks on places of worship
Pope Francis personally addressed Muslims at the end of Ramadan, calling them “dear friends”, expressing closeness during this time that is spiritually and religiously meaningful for them. He himself signed the message, which is usually sent to all Muslims around the world by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on the occasion of 'Id al-Fitr, marking the conclusion of this month of prayer and fasting. This is the second time that a Pope has sent a personal message following Ramadan since 1967, when the Secretariat for Non-Christians first adopted this initiative. The last time was 3 April 1991, when John Paul II personally wrote to his “beloved Muslim brothers and sisters” who were suffering the effects of tragic conflict in the Middle East.
Pope Francis, in this first year of his Pontificate, has decided to write personally in order to express feelings of esteem and friendship towards Muslims. He took this opportunity to emphasize particular aspects of the relationship which certainly must continue, and at the base of the dialogue emphasized one important theme that he wished to reflect on: “Promoting mutual respect through education”. He emphasized that the first thing we are each called to respect in every person is “first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation”.
In interreligious relations, “especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, symbols, its values”. A particular respect is owed “to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!”. He emphasized that these principles should be the focus in the careful formation of the youth.
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