Pope to Muslims: "We believers have a special contribution to make…"

Pope to Muslims: "We believers have a special contribution to make…" September 23, 2011

“From the 1970s onwards, the presence of numerous Muslim families has increasingly become a distinguishing mark of this country. Constant effort is needed in order to foster better mutual acquaintance and understanding. Not only is this important for peaceful coexistence, but also for the contribution that each can make towards building up the common good in this society.Many Muslims attribute great importance to the religious dimension of life. At times this is thought provocative in a society that tends to marginalize religion or at most to assign it a place among the individual’s personal choices. The Catholic Church firmly advocates that due recognition be given to the public dimension of religious adherence. In an overwhelmingly pluralist society, this demand is not unimportant. Care must be taken to guarantee that others are always treated with respect. Mutual respect grows only on the basis of agreement on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person. Such agreement does not limit the expression of individual religions; on the contrary, it allows each person to bear witness explicitly to what he believes, not avoiding comparison with others.

Dear friends, on the basis of what I have outlined here, it seems to me that there can be fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims. In the process, we help to build a society that differs in many respects from what we brought with us from the past. As believers, setting out from our respective convictions, we can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society. I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice.

This is another reason why I think it important to hold a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, as we plan to do on 27 October next, twenty-five years after the historic meeting in Assisi led by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II. Through this gathering, we wish to express, with simplicity, that we believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem.”

— Pope Benedict to Muslims in Germany, 23 September 2011

Read the full text.

Also, read the text of the Muslim welcome to him.

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16 responses to “Pope to Muslims: "We believers have a special contribution to make…"”

  1. How disappointing. More Catholic than the Pope. Don’t worry about “Chrislam.” The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church.

    I don’t pretend to know what every imam has ever said about Christianity, but if none of them has ever called for understanding, respect, and cooperation on matters where we share common ground, it is incumbent on “our side” to show them that such things are possible and desirable.

  2. They may not prevail against the Church but Islam can certainly prevail against Christian Europe. They are multiplying at a far higher rate than Christians in Europe. Hence the term Eurabia.

    Not a good development.

  3. Kevin #4 — “Not a good development.”

    I agree. But it will be far worse if they can’t be brought to regard Christians as deserving of respect and as potential collaborators in building a good society which includes freedom of religion.

  4. Christianity has more in common with Islam than it does with modern western secularism of the militant kind (as represented by Richard Dawkins). While both religions have clashed in the past, there are many issues today where we share a moral ground, such as in abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, secularization of culture, etc. If the Holy Father thinks we can find common ground and grow in respect, that is enough for me.

    It would be a good starting point for countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and others that have the Sharia Law to start thinking seriously about freedom of religion.

  5. Deacon K., it’s your blog and you decide the what and wherefore (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan). None the less, I as a mere Protestant had hoped you would mention the Pope’s jaw-dropping comments in his speech to German Protestants (who are roughly equivalent to mainline churches here).

    Using his theologians hat he blasted pentecostal and evangelical fundamentalist churches in the developing world as having no theology worth the name. I’m paraphrasing but that was what it amounted to. He said the rapid spread of those outfits is a challenge to both Rome and mainstream Protestantism. He did not sound all warm and fuzzy toward them as are most of your resident Catholic temple police, on the basis of allies in our culture wars. Bravo Pope Benedict, words I thought I’d likely never utter.

  6. I think these are the actual words of the Holy Father which Jack B. Nimble had in mind.

    “Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability. This worldwide phenomenon – that bishops from all over the world are constantly telling me about – poses a question to us all: what is this new form of Christianity saying to us, for better and for worse? In any event, it raises afresh the question about what has enduring validity and what can or must be changed – the question of our fundamental faith choice.”

  7. I find it amazing that when the Pope speaks, the world listens. It might not agree, but it pays attention. Of the 20,000 or so non Catholic Christian faiths, I cannot think of one were their voice calls such attention. I do not see this with any other religon. Are there any close to how the Catholic Church is constructed and how the beliefs are established and held with such consistency by the Church?

  8. Greta #10: “Are there any close to how the Catholic Church is constructed and how the beliefs are established and held with such consistency by the Church?”

    Perhaps the Eastern Orthodox Church would come close, or the Latter-Day Saints, however their leaders do not get the press that the Pope does.

    But other than this I am hard pressed to find a Christian denomination that has the structure and internal “consistency” of the Catholic Church. Certainly in the Protestant world there is no similar structure to my knowledge. Most Protestants have embraced the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, and have set up leadership structures which are more grass-roots in their form.

  9. I think one reason human beings listen when he speaks is that most at least sense that Jesus himself stands behind the office and sustains it. “You are Peter…” that is why heads turn when he speaks.

  10. Richard, many converts to Catholocism I have talked with or read about often state that having a true north or a single source of final authority is what they were most attracted to as well as the fact that any solid study quickly shows that Christ indeed did give the keys to Peter and there has been a solid apostolic connection from Pope Benedict XVI to Peter and Christ. I have great respect for and many friends who are Eastern Orthodox and hope one day we are fully united with them.

    As to Mormons, I believe the Catholic teaching on this is that the religion is a cult with some very strange beliefs. I have always stayed away from it based on what I was taught from little on about that faith. It is also why I could never support Romney. Have no issue with other Christian faiths or the Jewish faith. I would also not support a Muslim for any office based on Sharia law and jihad. I once said that I did not think that we would ever see this happen in America, but I still wonder just how far Obama has gone from his early muslim years or how committed he is to Christianity based on his sitting and listening to the hate monger Rev Wright all those years. We elected him and have paid a horrible price.

  11. “I still wonder just how far Obama has gone from his early muslim (sic) years.”

    Greta: Kindly validate with facts.

  12. Greta, lest we wander too far astray from the topic of this post, let’s just agree that we disagree with regards to the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Several friends have left the Catholic Church for Protestant churches and offer likewise compelling testimony as to what they found therein.

    Living within a hour drive of Nauvoo, IL we get a fair number of chances to hear about the LDS faith, both pro- and con-, from local authors and speakers. Indeed, their faith does have some interesting practices that those of us on the outside consider unusual. Yet to one trained in their faith I would imagine that the practices and beliefs make perfect sense.

    After all, the mystery surrounding the Mass seems confusing and rather cult-like to some outside of the Catholic faith. Yet to a Catholic it is the heart and soul of their beliefs, and makes perfect sense within that context.

    If we begin judging each other’s religion based on the strangeness of practiced ritual what do we really gain?

  13. As for Rev. Wright, there is certainly much to consider in his ministry, especially as revelations regarding possible financial misconduct were made. However, I have less trouble with his statement that God will damn our nation for failing to His teachings. After all, that theme seems to run through the mouths of many ministers these days. We hear it when pro-life ministers condemn our nation for permitting abortions. We hear it when conservative evangelicals condemn our nation for entertaining the notion of marriage equality. We hear it from more prominent Christian ministers whenever natural disasters strike our people.

    As the Bible teaches, the truth of a prophet is revealed in the accuracy of his prophecy. If God does permit an ever-increasing level of harm to come to our nation as we embrace a more conservative policy position, then Rev. Wright’s words will be vindicated. If not, then he falls into the dustbin of history next to every other false prophet who has risen in our world.

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