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Pope Francis reaches out to Muslims in papal message
Urges 'esteem and respect' between the faiths ahead of Eid al-Fitr
- Catholic News Agency, Vatican City
- Vatican City
- August 5, 2013
With the end of the month of Ramadan approaching, Pope Francis decided to personally write to all Muslims as a sign of friendship and to promote greater respect between the two faiths.
“This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter, which was signed on July 10.
Ramadan, the season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving will end with the customary feast of Eid al-Fitr on August 8 or 9 this year. The variability is due to the holiday being determined by the Islamic calendar, which is lunar.
Pope Francis began his message, released on August 2 by the Vatican, by focusing on how his ministry as pontiff and the choice of his papal name are founded upon “a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply,” he said.
“I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice,” he said.
For the theme of this year’s message the Holy Father chose: “Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.”
By “respect,” Pope Francis said he means “an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem,” while his emphasis on mutuality was to underscore that “this is not a one-way process, but something shared by both sides.”
He also detailed how respect plays out at the personal level.
“What we are called to respect in each 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,” he wrote.
The Pope noted that this requires that people “think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation.
“Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal,” he added.
Full story: Pope writes to Muslims about mutual respect
Source: Catholic News Agency