Interfaith dialogue bridge gaps: Pope Francis

SHAFAQNA – Amid growing tensions worldwide, Pope Francis has praised dialogue between Muslims and Christians as an effective antidote to violence, in a bid to bid to bridge gaps between followers of the two Abrahamic faiths.

“Perhaps now more than ever such a need is felt, because the most effective antidote against all forms of violence is education towards the discovery and acceptance of differences,” the Pope told the members of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies on Saturday, January 24, Vatican Radio reported.

The Pope made his remarks during a meeting organized by the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Institute’s opening.

Addressing attendants, the pontiff said that a successful Islamic-Christian dialogue can be attained through “acceptance, humanity, patience and careful listening”.

“If it is assumed that we all belong to human nature, prejudices and falsehoods can be overcome and an understanding of the other according to a new perspective can begin,” he said.

“At the heart of everything is the need for an adequate formation so that, steadfast in one’s own identity, we can grow in mutual knowledge.”

Dialogue between Islam and Christianity was progressing because the two sides felt there was a strong sense of responsibility, “which required detailed studies … as improvisation might have consequences and even cause confusion,” the Pope said, KUNA reported.

Pope’s speech comes two weeks after Paris attacks in which 17 were killed, provoking anti-Muslim sentiment across Europe.

In France, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over one hundred incidents have been reported to the police since Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.

The rise in attacks over the last two weeks represents an increase of 110 percent over the whole of January 2014, the organization said on Monday.

A Few days after the Paris attacks, Pope Francis condemned those who kill “in the name of God,” maintaining that freedoms must have limits not to “insult other people’s faith.”


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