Category Archives: Interfaith Dialogue

Dialogue frozen between the Vatican & Islamic University of Al-Azhar

Controversies never end between the Holy See and Islam. Dialogue between a Vatican group and an Egyptian one is now suspended in a surprising move. From what I can tell, some individuals are easily swayed by sentiment and the immediacy of political power and not by true faith and reason. Not to mention the poor translations of speeches given by the Pope. This is not a new issue and it is a matter of concern. I am inclined to say that the tensions originate not in Pope Benedict’s statements on Islam and Christianity, religious freedom and reciprocity, and faith and reason, but the tensions in Egypt (and other Islamic countries) over secularizing tendencies of some government leaders and the more conservative religious types. Islam, like Christianity, is in a precarious situation with the faith not being able to fruitfully interact in society. They are facing what 1968 was for the West. Islam is losing ground with many people, though it’s hard to prove this on occasion. On the other hand, I am not convinced, from what I read coming from certain religious leaders in Islam, that broadening reason by faith is a priority. They say one thing and do something opposite. Many of them can’t (won’t?) distinguish secularity from secularism. Certainly conflicting statements and reversing previously held “positions” is confusing and leading to heightened anxieties.

Now the Islamic University of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, is accusing Pope Benedict with propagating a negative attitudes toward Islam and therefore freezing dialogue. Those who hold that idea aren’t reading what the Pope has said. And our consistent approach is openness to dialogue. What does that tell you? And who, really, does the dialogue benefit? The answer: the West according to some Muslims.
This statement comes a month before the meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions.

AsiaNews.it provided this story today. I highly recommend it.

Pakistani Muslims Protest Pope

pakistani Pope protest.jpgPakistani Muslims protested the part of Pope Benedict’s State of the World address where he says the blasphemy law ought to be repealed. Well, Pakistan’s Muslims don’t think it’s wise.

Policeman shoots 4 Christians in Egypt, shouting Allah is great

The online magazine Catholic Culture (here below) carried this story today, which ran yesterday in the AFP, about a Muslim policeman killing Christian women when tensions are already running following the killing of Christians in a church. More sadness for humanity. It is also incredibly sad that the Egyptian Ambassador to the Holy See has stated that the view that Christians are not persecuted. Can you believe it??? The Ambassador’s head is in the sand.

Less than two
weeks after a church bombing in Alexandria left 21 Coptic Christians dead, an
off-duty policeman shot four Christians on a train, killing a 71-year-old man.
A fifth person was also wounded.

Read more ...

Bernard Fellay criticizes Pope unfairly over prayer at Assisi 2011

The Pope always
seems to get criticized at every twist-and-turn. He announced a gathering in
Assisi to have a World Day of Prayer in part to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the first Day of Prayer hosted by John Paul II and to build
bridges -he is the Pontiff, the “bridge builder”–after all. Benedict’s noble
and good motive is this: “I will make a pilgrimage to the town of St Francis,
inviting my Christian brethren of different confessions, leaders of the world’s
religious traditions and, in their hearts, all men and women of good will, to
join me on this journey in order to commemorate that important historical
gesture
of my predecessor, and solemnly to renew the commitment of believers of
all religions to live their religious faith as a service to the cause of peace
.”

Read more ...

Pope Benedict XVI and the Way to Peace


Michael Fitzgerald.jpg

These early days of 2011 are shaping up to be an interfaith challenge with all sorts of messages, clarifications and critiques of current events between Christians and Muslims. The latest, noted here, is a statement given by the Pope’s ambassador, the Apostolic Nunccio to Egypt, Archbishop Michael L. Fiztgerald, M. Afr. The Nuncio,73, is a former head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The statement was given in response to a request of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate clarifying the Pope’s January 2nd statement against the attacks against the Coptic faithful.

The statement of His
Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with regard to the tragic attack on the Church of
the Saints in Alexandria has met with some criticism. It may therefore be
helpful to give an account of what the Pope actually said and of his recent
teaching on the way to peace.

Read more ...

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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