The 8th Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting was held Tuesday, feast of the Annunciation, in Beirut, Lebanon, and focused on the theme “Together around Mary, Our Lady.”
The meeting was organized by the St. Joseph University Alumni Assocation and the College of Our Lady of Jamhour.
The Pope’s message was given through Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who said the Holy Father was joyous at seeing “Christians and Muslims united in their devotion to the Virgin Mary,”
The Pontiff noted that “the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa is a blessed place where everyone can go to invoke her.”
He also encouraged Christians and Muslims to “work together for peace and for the common good, thus contributing to the full development of the person and the edification of society,” and entrusted the participants in the meeting “and all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon.”
The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso, gave an address at the meeting called “The Virgin Mary and Islamic-Christian dialogue.”
In his address, which focused both on the figure of Mary and on the mission of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Ayuso emphasised that the feast of 25 March was “a true example of the co-existence between Muslims and Christians that characterises Lebanese history, in the midst of so many difficulties, and which also constitutes an important example for many other nations”.
“Since Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church recognises that Muslims honour the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary, and invoke her with piety. … Mary is mentioned various times in the Koran. Respect for her is so evident that when she is mentioned in Islam, it is usual to add ‘Alayha l-salam’ (‘Peace be upon her’). Christians also willingly join in this invocation. I must also mention those shrines dedicated to Mary which welcome both Muslims and Christians. In particular, here in Lebanon, how can we forget the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa?”
“Devotion creates sentiments of friendship: it is a phenomenon open to everyone. The cultural experiences that our communities can share encourage collaboration, solidarity and mutual recognition as sons and daughters of a single God, members of the same human family. Therefore, the Church addresses the followers of Islam with esteem…”