Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 18, 2009
Pope urges expanding interfaith dialogue
Benedict pointed out the common roots of the three religions – belief in one God – and appealed for peace
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
JERUSALEM – Pope Benedict made the need for Christians, Muslims and Jews to increase dialogue and overcome past divisions the keynote of his May 8-15 visit to the Holy Land.
“Those who honour the one God believe that he will hold human beings accountable for their actions,” the pope told Muslim leaders May 12 in Jerusalem.
“Undivided love for the one God and charity for one’s neighbour thus become the fulcrum around which all else turns. This is why we work untiringly to safeguard human hearts from hatred, anger or revenge,” he said.
The pope made his remarks during a visit to one of Islam’s holiest places, a complex of holy buildings that includes the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Situated just above the Western Wall in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, the complex is called the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims.
DOME OF THE ROCK
The pope removed his shoes before entering the Dome of the Rock, a seventh-century shrine that protects an exposed rock revered by Muslims as the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven.
The pope, in his speech to the group, underlined the common ground shared by all three monotheistic religions: Each believes in the same God, each recognizes Abraham as a forefather and each has gained a large following through the centuries.
Christians, Muslims and Jews have a “grave responsibility” to expand dialogue and mend divisions, he said.
Arriving in Jerusalem May 11, the pope condemned anti-Semitism and pleaded for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Sadly, anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This is totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe.”
As Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli government leaders listened, the pope then urged a negotiated peace settlement that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to “live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders.”
STATE OF PALESTINE
The pope was unequivocal in endorsing an independent Palestine May 13 when he spoke in Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories.
“The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbours, within internationally recognized borders,” the pope told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier, in a moving visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Pope Benedict prayed silently before the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance and said the suffering of Jews under the Nazi extermination campaign must “never be denied, belittled or forgotten.“May the names of these victims never perish! May their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten! And may all people of good will remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this!” he said.
BEWARE OF MANIPULATION
The following day, in a speech to Muslim academics and religious leaders, the pope underlined the common belief in God shared by Muslims and Christians.
But he also warned of the “ideological manipulation of religion” that can act as a catalyst for tensions and violence in contemporary societies.