New hope for interfaith dialogue

Friday, April 05, 2013 • Bob Hughes


THE top world news from last month was the Roman Catholic Church has elected a new Pope to guide the majority of the world’s Christians through today’s troubled times.
As one who is very concerned for humanity’s future, I am thrilled Pope Francis has promised to bring new hope for interfaith dialogue.
On Friday, March 22 he stated: “It is not possible to establish true links with God while ignoring other people,” adding emphatically, “I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.”

The Pope’s remarks came a day after his unusual Vatican meet-and-greet with leaders and representatives of different faiths — who he made a point of inviting to his instalment mass on Tuesday.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the papal name Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi.
St Francis is well remembered for his dedication to ending the Crusades, and meeting with his Muslim counterparts.
Not deterred by unsuccessfully pleading with the Christian crusaders to cease their destruction and murder during the disastrous Fifth Crusade, he crossed enemy lines to plead with al-Kamil, sultan of Egypt, and the great warrior Saladin
Although he failed to find a peaceful solution, he returned from the encounter with revolutionary ideas to call Christians to live more harmoniously with Muslims.
True to the name Francis, this Easter our new Pope — an unprecedented twist on the Holy Thursday tradition — set an example by washing the feet of a young Muslim woman prisoner.
Pope Francis’ resolve brings to mind his predecessor John Paul 11’s effort of launching the World Day of Interfaith Prayer for Peace in 1986.
Fifteen years later — after 9/11 —he again demonstrated Saint Francis’ example by pleading with President George W. Bush to not treat Muslim counterparts too harshly.
The former Pope also travelled far, meeting with numerous Muslim heads of state to reassert his message of interfaith relations.
At Easter, 2001 Pope Paul 11 broadcast this message from the steps of St Peter’s Basilica: “Men and women of the Third Millennium, the Easter gift of light that scatters the darkness of fear and sadness is meant for everyone . . . . With the help of God, we can win the challenge of tolerance and solidarity.”

Now we have this first Easter message from Pope Francis: “Let us pray for the whole world . . . . We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”
His message was that he was there “to protect and bring hope to all humanity”.
Nations should appreciate Pope Francis’ humanitarian concern for the poor and his efforts for people in great need.
This Easter, the new Pope’s example shines as a beacon of hope for harmony, peace, prosperity and goodwill for all the world.
Without unity, there can be no peace! He has called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to reach out to “lost sheep” over the coming days.
I like the early signs of this new Pope walking in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi.
The world needs a champion for the downtrodden and victimised as never before.
As the leader of the Christian majority, hopefully he can be the strong world voice for justice and peace for all. He has certainly started out on the right foot and hopefully, with the support of the world’s peoples — and God willing — he will prevail.
A St Francis quote: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”



“Let not our different beliefs divide us, but the Spirit of our shared humanity define and unite us.”

– craig

“Together, one mind, one heart, one life at a time, today let’s plant the seeds, the hope of a better and brighter future (tomorrow)”