Arab News: “Pope Francis Should Declare Islam a Religion of Peace” – UPDATED

Pope Francis washes the feet of young inmates at Casal del Marmo, a juvenile detention center in Rome, on Holy Thursday

Remember that Holy Thursday liturgy, at which Pope Francis washed the feet of a young Muslim girl in a Roman detention facility?

Well, that humble gesture seems to have gained the attention of Islamic adherents, who now hope that the pope will take another step forward by declaring that Islam is a peaceful religion.

According to MENAFN-Arab News, the Middle East North Africa Financial Network, an envoy from Al-Azhar has expressed hope that ties between the Muslim world and the Vatican might be restored.  Mahmoud Abdel Gawad, diplomatic envoy to the grand imam of Al-Azhar, told Il Messaggero, an Italian daily newspaper based in Rome:

“The problems that we had were not with the Vatican but with the former pope.  Now the doors of Al-Azhar are open.  Francis is a new pope.  We are expecting a step forward from him.  If in one of his addresses he were to declare that Islam is a peaceful religion, that Muslims are not looking for war or violence, that would be progress in itself.”

The envoy added that perhaps Pope Francis could visit Al-Azhar, the tenth century “mosque of the most resplendent” which is the center of the Muslim faith in northern Egypt.  He suggested that such a visit could be arranged in conjunction with an invitation from the Coptic Orthodox pope Tawadros II to visit Egypt.  “At that point,” he was quote as saying, “relations and dialogue would be restored immediately.”

Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo

However, he ruled out the possibility of any conversation among leaders of the world’s three monotheistic religions, insisting that Al-Azhar would not participate in any meeting with Israelis.

The Regensburg Lecture and the Problem with Pope Benedict

The Regensburg lecture, an academic lecture on faith and reason, was delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on September 12, 2006 at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he had once served as a professor of theology.  Drawing on references from ancient Greek and Jewish thinking, from Protestant theology and modern secularity, and from Christianity, Pope Benedict spoke about the tendency of some in the modern world to “exclude the question of God” from reason.  Speaking in German, the pope quoted an unfavorable remark about Islam which had been made at the end of the 14th century by Manuel II Palaiologos, the Byzantine emperor.  Around the world, many Islamic politicians and religious leaders protested what they considered an insulting mischaracterization of Islam.

The offending quote from the Regensburg lecture was:

Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Pope Benedict himself greatly regretted the negative impact which his remarks had had, leading to protests and violence on the world stage.

At the time, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina and now Pope Francis, was reported to have expressed “unhappiness” with Pope Benedict XVI’s use of the quotation from Manuel II Palaeologos.  According to published reports, Cardinal Bergoglio said,

 “Pope Benedict’s statement[s] don’t reflect my own opinions…. These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years.”

 

UPDATE:  “Stop Talking About the Copts!”

A senior Al-Azhar official has spoken out regarding the possibility of improved relations between the Vatican and Al-Azhar; and the Vatican has responded.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has reported that “We’re not the problem.  It was our Muslim friends who suspended relations.”  Cardinal Tauran affirmed the Vatican’s willingness to restore normal ties to Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, but insisted that the Cairo-based university must first respond to Rome’s offer.

According to The Tablet, the cardinal spoke in reaction to statements by a senior Azhar official that the Muslim side was waiting for a gesture from Pope Francis.  Al-Azhar had suspended its regular exchanges with the Vatican in January 2011,  accusing then-Pope Benedict of insulting Islam after he called for better protection for Coptic Christians following several violent attacks on them.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I’m tired of walking on egg shells to accomodate Islamic sensitivities. As far as I can see, it’s Christians and Jews who are being threatened and outright killed across the world. I’m tired of muslims planting bombs and cutting the heads of innocent people in the name of Islam. I am certainly no expert on Islam, but since 9/11/01 which is now almost twelve years Islam as been thrust in our faces and they have had every opportunity to explain how and why Islam is a religion of peace. Can anyone explain it? Can anyone claim to find Islamic leaders reciting passages refuting Osama and his jihad? In fact it’s the terrorists who constantly quote the Koran to justify their jihad against the infidel. Where are the passages and quotes and theology that refute the jihadist?
    Pope Francis should do whatever he feels will bring peace, but I would at least expect Islamic theologians (if such a thing exists–frankly it seems like it’s just made up as you go, culture from culture) to reject the jihad and explain why Islam is a religion of peace.

    • John O’Brien

      None of the abrahmic religion are really very peaceful but currently Islam takes the prize for most violent, that could always change though, just look at the christian taliban here in the US.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        How ridiculous Mr. Obrien. Obviously you don’t understand Christianity.

      • Realist

        Christian Taliban…in the U.S.??? Where do you live? Your comment is based on which fact(s)? Or do you cherry pick examples!!

      • JoFro

        So there are Christians in the US slicing the necks of their opponents or bombing some Chabad Jewish centres? Why has the media not been covering these atrocities?

    • tedseeber

      Having said that- I see only one small corner of Islam creating this violence. The majority of Islam is now becoming the religion of peace it should have been all along.

      Many, many schools of Islam have attempted to make amends for 9/11/01. All seem to have failed.

      The terrorists quote the Koran like the Westboro Baptists quote the Bible- prooftexting out of context. The only real difference is that the Westboro Baptists have only protest and prayer in their traditional history, where the Islamics have jihad to turn individualistic.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        One small corner? Even if it’s as small as ten percent who support the jihad (and that’s probably on the low side) there are over one billion muslims. That makes 100 million muslims that support the jihad. That’s bigger than any European except Russia. Actually it would make it the tenth largest country in the world. And I repeat, 10% is on the low side.

        • tedseeber

          Ah, but which of the six types of jihad are you talking about?
          http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2011/05/update-on-muwahiddun-and-islamic.html

          I’d say only 20% reject the jihad teaching entirely- specifically the Sufi and Kwarji schools. And depending on the type of jihad, us American Christians can certainly be interpreted as supporting Jihad.

          The Just War Theory of the Catholic Church supports the collective defensive jihad- the banding together of neighbors to fight against an aggressor who has invaded your territory and wants to kill your family.

          Sunni and Shi’a also have the offensive collective jihad- the duty of the Caliph to, at least once a year, expand the territory under Islamic rule. For quite a few centuries in there this had degraded into yearly raids on Byzantine border towns.

          Then there is individual verbal jihad- the duty of every good Muslim to, when confronted with injustice, speak up.

          None of these first three are in the five pillars though, and more than 80% of Islamics are indeed five pillar muslims.

          Which leads us the the sixth pillar types- the Muwahiddun Wahabbis (split off from Suni) , Druze (split off from Shi’a) and Chechen (which is really more of an ethnic political party than Islamic at all).

          These believe in verbal offensive jihad (spreading propaganda) as a direct duty of every Islamic. The Chechen also have family duty offensive jihad (you insulted my tribe/raped my sister/did unspecific harm to this other tribe that I consider to also be Islamic, therefore you must die). And the scariest of all to me- the martyrdom individual jihad of the Wahhabi (you insulted the prophet so I must blow up these unrelated people and myself).

          If the Wahhabi are even 2% of Islam I’d be surprised- they’re about as common as Oneness Pentecostals in Christianity. There might be as many as 6 million Chechens though. And of course, it’s a short step from the verbal offensive jihad to the violent offensive jihad.

          So yeah, 10% maybe. But you can’t paint a wide brush across Islam when it comes to theology any more than you can across Christianity.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Frankly I think it’s more than 10% that are sympathetic to the Islamist cause. It’s probably 2 or 3% who will actually take arms and propagate terrorism. Globally that’s still a lot of people.

          • tedseeber

            What is the “Islamist cause”? I count at least 15 competing versions of it!

            The real problem is that Islam is in a period of violent reformation.

          • JoFro

            Islam has been in a period of violent reformation for the last 1400 years and they’ll be in a period of violent reformation until the world ends!

          • kitty

            While Islam goes through their personal “period of violent reformation” it’d be nice of them to KEEP IT TO THEMSELVES!!!!!!!!

          • cat

            it is islams aim to inflict islam on EVERYONE whether they like it or not. Everyone needs to read the Koran. and checkout the website jihadwatch

          • cat

            check out the Pew Research studies on Islam, They interview muslims around the world. A high percentage of muslims are sympathetic to suicide bombing, implementing sharia, believe 9/11 was justified, etc
            islam is pure evil

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            I’m not surprised. I’ve seen such studies before.

          • JoFro

            “If the Wahhabi are even 2% of Islam I’d be surprised- they’re about as common as Oneness Pentecostals in Christianity”

            That’s an idiotic statement and even you know it! Is there a any country on this earth where Oneness Pentecostals run the nation? The nation of Saudi Arabia wholly exists because the House of Saud made a deal with the House of Mohammad Wahhab and Wahhabi doctrine is not only preached there but throughtout the world. It is exported with Saudi funds – and one does not even need Wahhabi Islam – Salafi Islam is as extremist on the ground as Wahhabi. There isn’t that much of a difference between the two!

          • tedseeber

            True Wahhabi are *against* the Saudi Royal house, especially their corruption from western oil money and drilling into the Holy Penninsula. Salafi Islam is as extremist as the other Muwahiddun sixth pillar philosophies, that’s true.

          • JoFro

            Irrelevant though, isn’t it? The fact remains that the House of Wahhab as the House of Saud as their useful idiots! And both of them have the Americans and the British, the other useful idiots or as the Saudis call them lovingly “our blue eyed slaves” to do their bidding.

    • bluesuede

      During WWll and during the Russian communist occupation of Poland, the Popes have had to be very diplomatic in their defense of fellow Catholics who lived under violent leaderships, while not saying something that would in any way jeapardize lives. But, Popes have never turned their backs on the suffering Catholics in those repressive countries. Same here. So, these Muslims rejected Pope Benedict, but hold out hope that they’ll get what they want from Pope Francis??

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        What do they have to fear in the United States? Personal rejection? Certainly not their lives. Where are all the quotes out of the Koran that speak to peace and love of all humanity? If you’re not muslim in Islam, you’re dirt.

  • Ann Couper-Johnston

    Both claim to be the true religion. Only one can be, and Mohammedanism is not. I hope the envoy’s idea gets the reception it deserves and Pope Francis proposes instead that the Copts are protected. Like Manny, I have had enough of Christians pussy-footing around for fear of offending Mohammedans. It is the truth that will set men free, not the lies perpetrated by them. We should assert our own culture, firmly and politely, but unmistakeably.

    • John O’Brien

      All religions are wrong, there is no god(s).

      • Ron Kino

        an argument that people do wrong? this is it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

    It’s pretty funny that Islam wants to be recognized by the pope as a religion of peace. The Catholic church doesn’t even recognize other Christian religions as being Christian and therefore not able to go to heaven (as if there was a heaven).

    It’s all just whackos preying on the credulity of the human mind. All of them making claims about something they have zero ability to prove true and killing each other in the name of their god. And the funny part is it’s supposed to be the same god — the god of Abraham.

    We do have to realize we have killed millions more innocent Muslims than Muslims have killed Christians or Jews combined. Ours and Israels foreign policy sucks. Good for us, but not good for anyone else. Despite attempts to portray it as true, the US really doesn’t own the world.

    • Tom Tan

      Well if you’re going to claim something, make sure your claims are right. The Catholic Church recognizes other Christian denominations as ecclesial communities (oasis of Christian faith), though not in the same way that the Orthodox and Catholic world understand Church in terms of apostolic succession. And the Catholic Church also doesn’t teach that other Christians are not able to go to heaven. Where did you pluck that ridiculous claim from? In fact, the Catholic position has always been more magnanimous than most others. Without downplaying the need for salvation, all men and women (who through no fault of their own are ignorant of the gospel) can attain to heaven through the redemption and mercy of Christ, if they so respond and cooperate with their God-given conscience. Being an atheist as you clearly are, you can still make reasonable comments and arguments with honesty and truth, and not claim falsehoods and misrepresentations just to bolster your own bigotry.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

        I am not claiming falsehoods. I grew up Catholic and I know what was claimed. It they have loosened up on their rigid theology, that’s great, but I have watched interviews and debates with Cardinal Pell of Australia and what I claimed is from the answers he gave. So as usual, you can probably get a multiplicity of untruths depending on which priest, cardinal, bishop, or pope you are listening to.

        • craig

          You don’t have to guess based on individual opinions; there is an official Catholic answer to your claim. You can look it up, in the Catechism:

          “818
          “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at
          present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation]
          and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church
          accepts them with respect and affection as brothers …. All who have been
          justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have
          a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers
          in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”272

          819
          “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of
          truth”273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic
          Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and
          charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible
          elements.”274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial
          communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of
          grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these
          blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves
          calls to “Catholic unity.”276″

        • bluesuede

          The gift of “discernment” is needed David Thompson.

    • bluesuede

      “The Catholic church doesn’t even recognize other Christian religions as
      being Christian and therefore not able to go to heaven (as if there was a
      heaven).”

      NOT TRUE.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

        Yes true, according to Cardinal Pell.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

        We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
        who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
        With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
        He has spoken through the Prophets.
        “We believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
        We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
        We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Hahahaha, anyone that knows Christianity knows that “one holy catholic and Apostolic Church” has “catholic” with a small “c”. Look up the definition of catholic with a small “c”. It means universal. It is not refering the Roman Catholic Church. You just proved that despite your upbringing you don’t know even the basics of Christianity. You don’t even know what you said in your full comment was wrong as others have pointed out. Obviously your ego won’t even prevents you for even acknowledging your ignorance.

    • bear on the peaks

      i don’t know what good it does to try to figure out if christians or muslims or other groups like secular socialists/communists killed more people in history but there is only one organized religion today that routinely burys women in the ground feet-first up to their heads, hangs gay men, treats women like property, hates jews, starts fights even with the normally peaceful people of sweden and buddhists of myanmar. i think as we plan for the future of this planet, we need to have a talk with the muslims and tell them to come out of the middle ages.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Wow, you ought to brush up on whatever you expect to comment on. There are so many errors in that comment it’s actually hilarious. Millions of muslims killed? Millions???? I’m doubled over laughing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

        There’s no comment that I made that I cannot defend. Perhaps you should read more and be less of a jingoist.

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Jingoist? I see nothing that is jingoist. But at least I’m not self hating of one’s own culture. You must be a leftist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003749214102 David Thompson

      Christians are the funniest group of people on the planet. They subscribe to a religion, which according to Christianity Today has over 41,000 sects/denominations and you claim I don’t have my facts straight. There are no straight facts, that’s why there are 41,000 different Christian sects, Christians are just impossible to understand or get along with. Let alone any other religion/faith, such as Islam, or Hindu. No matter what you or I claim, we each can find a biblical scholar that swears the point is correct.

      • bluesuede

        “Discernment” David Thompson, it’s one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    • tedseeber

      Have you even read Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate, or are you just going on what some atheist rag claimed Catholics believe?

    • bluesuede

      If you don’t believe in heaven, then you probably don’t believe in God. What’s the point of any further discussion?

  • John O’Brien

    If it was actually a religion of peace he might say it.

  • Rocky Cephas
    • Nolan

      Read the whole thing.

  • dcmortimer

    Islam has to prove its a religion of peace but as of now that for me has not been proven.

    • bluesuede

      Yes, it can start by stop taking the lives of innocent Catholics.

    • jadedcorliss

      I will know them by their actions. Catholic charities has done a lot of good, but the Catholic church is certainly corrupt.

      • Realist

        Any organization has corruption within committed by individuals. It doesn’t mean the entire organization is! The corruption is done by insincere (dare I say heretical) “Catholics” who have gotten into power, bent on changing and destroying the faith since Vatican II (actually read Acts…people have been trying since the death of Christ — ravenous “wolves”).. As Christ said, when he returns will He find any faith? The Catholic Church is the only religion with 2000 years of written dogma which demonstrates its truth if you care to do the research!

  • montymoose

    If the Pope was to claim Islam was a religion of peace, He would be a liar.
    Islam is a religion, based on rules to follow that ends up separated from God.. Yes you get 40 virgins.. but there is more to eternity than sex.
    Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with God both here on earth, ( the indwelling Holy Spirit who is God).. and upon the death of the physical body , being with God , in a new body, given to all who have faith in His Son Jesus, and were born again.
    GOD JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE ALIVE!!
    Islams false prophet is dead, buried, powerless, and his puny followers , use fear violence, torture and fear to try to force people to become followers and refuse them the ability to listen to other doctrine less they learn the truth.
    The Christian God ( according to the Bible), IS TRUTH , LOVE and the ONLY WAY tothe FATHER.
    His precepts are based on.. love your neighbor as yourself.. do unto others as you would have them do unto you..
    Even an eye for an eye is meant to prohibit over excessive retribution.
    Jesus said…You Must Be Born Again (from above)..
    He IS either a liar.. A Lunatic
    OR
    LORD

    • Burt

      Islam surely is a Satanic attack on Truth (ie Christ’s Church). Jesus’s warning was recorded in scripture of a false prophet to come. Those who choose to advocate strongly for Islam surely know deep in their hearts that they are on the side of the devil. That’s why they hate Jesus.

  • Quid

    I don’t understand why everyone is so upset by this. You don’t hear Muslims claiming Christianity is a religion of violence because of the Crusades. This is not a discussion of which religion has behaved more peacefully in the past. Peace is a good thing, and good relations between the Vatican and the Islamic world are extremely important. Now prominent Muslim leaders are looking for peace, and so is Francis. Instead of dwelling on each religion’s tendencies for violence in the past, we should both be looking to promote peace in the future.

    • Tom Tan

      Actually, Muslims do keep bringing up the Crusades. Perhaps you’re just not reading the relevant books and forums. But if you’re going to quote the Crusades, then you should know your history well, and realize that the Crusades were a defensive response to the Muslim invasion of Constantinople. It was not an unprovoked act of war. The Christian nations responded because the Eastern Church of Constantinople sent out an SOS because they were being attacked, slaughtered and occupied. If Europe didn’t respond, the Ottoman Turks would sweep across the west in the same way they invaded the east. Unfortunately the Christians failed, and that is why Constantinople is now Muslim Turkey and the Christian Cathedral is now the Sophia Mosque. Of course, it doesn’t make warring for religion morally right for any party, but to think that the Muslims were peaceful lambs being slaughtered by evil Christian knights is just naive. Instead of relying on popular revisionist myths, pick up a proper tome of history and see just how violent and aggressive both sides were. Don’t keep repeating popular stereotypes that have nothing to do with actual history.

      • lumina

        Interesting how you tell others to read up on history when it’s quite obvious you haven’t been taking your own advice. The crusader wars was a response to the invasion of Jerusalem, not Istanbul, and Turks hadn’t conquered Istanbul at the time. After the first crusader war Christians took over Jerusalem however their attacks continued. A pillaging attack under the guise of religious concerns. During the fourth crusade, the Byzantine emperor asked for help against his political adversaries which resulted in crusaders taking over the city, raping, pillaging, invading and causing a drift between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox which would last for centuries. And the Orthodox Basilica of Hagia Sophia is not a mosque, it is a museum. Has been a museum since Turkey has been governed by secular rule after the formation of the republic.

        • JoFro

          Interesting that your comment complaining that Tom Tan should read up on history also gets a lot of historical facts wrong!

          The crusades were not a response to the invasion of Jerusalem – they were a response to an SOS from the Byzantine Emperor, whose envoys came pleading to the Pope to send soldiers to help defend his empire from raiding Seljuk Turks. Ottoman Turks had yet to come on to the world stage.

          The Crusades went on because it was not merely to take back Jerusalem. The crusaders were supposed to be taking back formerly Christian lands and giving them back to the Byzantine Emperor, which they promised to do.

          But when the Byzantine Emperor went behind their backs and negotiated with the Muslims, while the Crusaders were losing life and limb for him, they felt betrayed. So the lands they captured, they now kept for themselves. Jerusalem was merely the jewel in the crown.

          During the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Emperor never asked anything of the crusaders. A bunch of excommunicated Crusaders (they were excom by the Pope because they had ransacked a Christian city in Europe before they even left for the Holy Land) were looking to find an excuse to continue their journey and a Byzantine prince or lord wished to usurp the throne of Constantinople for himself. So, he asked for their help and promised to pay them handsomely if they helped him acheive his goal. They did help him. He got the throne. He then decided to not pay up. He even sent fire ships to the Crusader ships to kill them. You can imagine what that incident did to those men! What’s an excommunicated crusader who has just helped a usurper take a throne to do when the usurper is not even willing to pay him? So they dethroned him, burnt and looted the city and paid themselves handsomely.

          There was also a sense of revenge by the Latins for an incident that happened a few years ago when all the Latin merchants in Constantinople were attacked and most of them butchered, their wives and children sent as slaves to the Muslims by the Byzantines.

          Lastly, while there is no doubt this incident was terrible, lets not bulls**t ourselves and think its as simple as the PC version would have us believe. Also, while its true that the church is now a museum, you are only kidding yourself about the actual situation.

          There are serious efforts to change it back into a mosque and the current Islamist-backed government is keen on making sure it does. Hopefully it will continue being a museum. But with Christians in Turkey being harassed and sometimes, killed, and the Christian community on the verge of disappearing there, expect things to change fast for the worse.

          • lumina

            I never said the Ottomans existed back then. Which is why they hadn’t conquered Istanbul yet, which was what Tom was saying and I objected to. The crusades began with the intent of saving Jerusalem, mainly. As for what the latins did, many historical archives document and depict what ruins they laid on the city and it’s inhabitants at the time. The murder of Christians in Turkey is tragic however a couple of isolated events comitted by insane individuals. I’m sure the current government in Turkey would love the country to be more islamic, but up until recently (which started the riots) they had been pretending to be more of moderate muslim and definitely with no intention of disturbing the secular structure of modern Turkey. Which is why I believe (and certainly hope) that they cannot dare attempt to render it into a mosque again. What with the riots and backlash after their recent shenanigans. There is a strong backlash against even the slightest attempts at changing the country’s secular and multicultural mosaic.

          • JoFro
          • lumina

            Some people who don’t even reside within the city are petitioning. While it is sad, I still don’t think that’s enough grounds for the government to take measure. They wouldn’t dare. That would be a very bold move, more like Saddam occupying Kuwait rather than spraying and battering your own protesting citizens. The Hagia Sophia is not just an old and beautiful church, it is the symbol of all Christendom in the east. Which is why it was a huge deal when JP2 prayed in the catholic fashion within its walls, it’s also why Benedict knelt down and laid upon the ground, on hands and knees as if he were praying in a muslim way. Turning it back into a mosque would mean opposing the whole of Europe, Russia, U.S. and all christians in the world. As delusional as he is I don’t think Erdogan would dare attempt such a gutsy move. The global opposition would skyrocket.

          • JoFro

            As the Zen master says “we’ll see” :/

      • lindenman

        It’s true that the Crusades were reactive, but the precipitating event was the capture of the Holy Land by the Seljuk Turks in 1072. Constantinople wouldn’t fall to the Ottomans for another 380 years. It’s also worth noting that Muslim rule in the Holy Land had by that time been a well-established fact, if an unwelcome one, since 661. It was the Egypt-based Fatimid Caliphate, not the Byzantine Empire or any other Christian state, that the Seljuqs defeated in order to win Palestine.

        In 1453, Mehmed II Sultan did convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but in 1935 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, converted it into a museum. It remains a museum today, although one small chamber is reserved for Muslims’ namaz prayers.

    • bluesuede

      Typical pc garbage. Let’s just pretend Christians aren’t being murdered in the Mid-East as we speak, Quid. Forget about 800 years ago for a minute if you can, and open the eyes God gave you to see the truth.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      The crusades were over eight hundred years ago. It’s ridiculous to bring that up. But if you’re going to bring up ancient history, how about the Islamic jihad that conquored across north Africa, Turkey, Asia, and Africa. It wasn’t through evangelization. It was through conquest and beheadings.

  • nonito

    what an arrogance. . .it need not be declared by the pope. . .what an arrogant claim yet they have not proven it. .the proximate 50,000 civilians killed in syria up to this day, the attack of osama in US, the hard-hearted attitute of Sadam which led wars and break the country. The beheading of helpless hostages. . .are all these a kind of peace they claim because they embraced islam?!!!

  • Lynda

    The only relationship Islam has with Christianity is to persecute Christians and subjugate them to Islam. There has been no carefully constructed relationship with Islam over 20 years. What there has been is endless flattery of Christian Bishops in order to get them to be blind when it comes to the persecution of Christians because they will choose their interfaith friendships over their Christian brothers and sisters.

    If Pope Francis is asked to declare Islam a religion of peace he should respond that salvation is through Jesus Christ for all of God’s people.

  • bluesuede

    Wouldn’t it mean they want the leader of the Catholic world to shake a hand with them with one hand, while they use the other hand to murder Christians in the Mid-East?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.middleton.5095 Jane Middleton

    Can no-one see how silly this is? Why does Islam need the head of another religion to declare them a “religion of peace”. If Islam is so great surely they can do that themselves ??

    • JoFro

      They don’t want to do it themselves because they know they are not the Religion of Peace.

      It’s more for the Catholic Church to make a fool of themselves – if the Pope declares that Islam is a religion of peace, it makes Catholics, they believe, to shut their mouths about Islamic atrocities against the Christian faithful.

      If faithful Catholics continue to criticise Muslims, they can turn to them and say “Hey, even your Pope agrees our religion is a religion of peace” and they can say that as they hold the decapitated heads of their Christian victims in their hands. Think of it as some kind of dark joke.

      The Pope is also the most visible and recognized Christian leader in the world and his words, be it true or silly, carry more weight in world opinion. So for the Pope to say such mindless drivel will only compel more division in the West and among Christians and makes the chances of Muslims being victorious against their enemies more likely!

      • cat

        I am sad to say Pope Francis must be dementing or psychotic when he says Islam is a peaceful religion. Please tell that to the women being stoned to death, the homosexuals being flogged or killed, the apostates being killed, the wives being beaten by their husbands because the Koran says that is ok

  • Realist

    As the picture shows …. so much for a religion of peace!!!

  • JoFro

    “These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years.”

    What relationship? Who actually believes there has been a relationship? Is bending over backwards to accommodate Islam a relationship?

  • Phillip McAllister

    You mean you want the Pope to lie?

  • Bonnie Logan

    Islam is NOT a religion of peace! What I hope the Pope does is converts Islamic followers to Christianity! Jesus is all about love! Mohammed is NOT! Take the above picture as an example! It speaks for itself! “Butcher?” “Slay?” You call that peace??? You’re delusional and extremely misguided, Kathy Schiffer!

  • Emi

    Islam as far as i know is not the true religion promoting the peace unless you become the same like them. The peace is at least valid only for their own group for they are not as brutal as to other religions. I spent my life as minority ethnic in the largest islamic country. Its true that you have to walk on “egg shells” …with the hope that nothing happened to you.

  • Paul Gerard

    This woamn is a dangerous apologist. Islam is not a religon – there is no revelatin of divine inspiration in its texts – it is made up – or simply copies from arab pagan stories, the Jewsih Torah and distroted christian scriptures professed by the Arians of Egypt of Trans Jordan in the 5-6th centuries.
    The only notion of divine revelation in Islam in Mohammed making up some garb about the Archangel Gabriel sitting on this camel hurder’s knee – really what crud!
    Alternatiely we see the fruits of this mysogynistic philosphy all around us – the 9/11 attacks, the London train and bus bombings, the attempted shoe bomber attacks, the attacks against Australian tourists in Indonesia in 2003, the train attacks in Spain, the bombings in Paris – the school masacre in Beslan- Russia, the concert hall attack in Moscow – the continuing attacks in Egypt against Copts and Coptic business and churches – the persecution of Assyrian Orthodox christians in Syria – the recent beheading of a Catholic Priests in front of a crowd of cheering Muslims in Syria, the killing of thousands of Catholics in Iraq ( Chaldean ) the annihilation of Christians in Alberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran and Lebanon.
    Show me where Islam’s peace, either professed for practiced Ms Schiffer ? – in fact there is no peace of decency in Islam.

    Islam is the greatest threat we have, to world civilisation – a opinion stated by Sir Winston Churchill in 1935.

  • Azam Niazi

    Listen let me just summarize Islam for you. Islam is a religion of love, peace and justice. All those terrorists are wrong. They are not Muslim! They take Islam into extreme levels. Most of the Muslim population is good, and want to live a peaceful life. If you continue to have bad relations with Islam, it would just make it worse, and hey you call us terrorists look at yourselves: shooting at a school in kinetikikit. (sorry if I spelt it wrong). You are causing bad as well: killing of Afghan civilians, the massacre in Bosnia that killed more than 5000 Muslims!!
    One reason why all these cruelty, war and bad stuff is happening because we are reaching the Day of judgment. The Quran mentions signs that lead to it like: corrupt leaders, children will not listen to their parents. Remember this is just the start of the trials all human beings will face. Islam tells us that fornication, murder and cruelty will increase, and no-one will speak the word of God. Islam also mentions anti-Christ, and Jesus (peace be upon him) coming and killing him.
    I think the Pope has made the right choice. This would create friendship between the two Religions. Most of the Muslim population, believe in peace, and follow what is right in Islam. I respect the religion of Christianity and their beliefs, as many Muslims do for every religion. Stop watching the news, they exaggerate too much and they brainwash you.
    May Allah (God) have mercy on all of you.


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