Pope urges religions to work for peace, mum on Muslim letter

October 21, 2007

Pope Benedict waves to crowds in Naples, Oct 21, 2007It would have been the Vatican equivalent of an instant reaction if Pope Benedict had actually mentioned the recent dialogue appeal by 138 Muslim scholars when he spoke today at a major inter-faith gathering in Naples. There were several comments from Catholic experts in the past week and an influential cardinal hinted he would have something to say. In the end, the Pope did not make a direct response. But he echoed the message that “faiths must work together to stamp out religiously motivated hatred which uses God as an excuse for violence,” as our reporter Phil Stewart wrote from Naples.

Not mentioning the letter explicitly does not indicate disagreement. His speech (here in English translation, here in Italian original) was focused on the theme of the meeting (“For a World without Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”). In it, he also said, “The Catholic Church intends to continue to walk the path of dialogue to favour understanding among different cultures, traditions and religious learning. I strongly hope that this spirit (of peace) spreads above all where tensions are strongest, where freedom and the respect for others are denied and men and women suffer because of the consequences of intolerance.” So no doors have been closed, while no further details of the Vatican view have been given.

Rowan Williams with Orthodox prelates at pope’s mass, Oct 21, 2007There was a small reminder of the Muslim appeal, however. At the lunch for the assembled religious leaders, Benedict sat at a table with Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Dr. Izzeldin Ibrahim. The latter was identified only as a cultural adviser to the United Arab Emirates government. How did he get a seat at the top table? We don’t know, but in doing a few quick checks to try to find out, Phil and our Dubai bureau dug up something a bit more interesting about him. Ibrahim is one of the 138 signatories of the Muslim appeal.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

our leaders should take positive action in the matter; this may be the first overture in a long time from muslim leaders to work hand in hand to deal with the problem

Posted by Azmat | Report as abusive

I welcome the peaceful overture. However, I am very concerned about this letter from The Islamic Scholars.I believe they know of something that even frightens them now. They are concerned that if this act comes to pass it will be horrific and the response to it will be cataclysmic for all.

Posted by w.sloan | Report as abusive