Dialogue with Islam key for peace - Pope

Faiths must meet, dialogue, Francis says after UAE trip

(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 6 - Dialogue between Christianity and Islam is crucial to promote peace worldwide, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican on Wednesday following a landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates.
    "Dialogue between Christianity and Islam needs to be a key factor for peace in the world today", the pontiff said.
    The pope said the trip was "brief but very important", linking it to his 2017 visit to Al-Azhar, Egypt, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, and wrote "a new page in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in efforts to promote peace in the world based on human brotherhood".
    Francis noted that it was the "first time that a pope visited the Arabian peninsula" and that "providence wanted it to be a pope called Francis, 800 years after the visit of St Francis of Assisi to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil.
    The pontiff said the UAE has grown a lot over the past few decades becoming a "crossroads between East and West, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious 'oasis' and thus the right place to promote the culture of encounter".
    "In an era like ours, when there is a strong temptation to see an ongoing clash between the Christian and Islamic civilization, and also to consider religions as sources of conflict, we have wanted to give a further clear and decided sign that it instead possible to meet, it is possible to respect one another and dialogue and that, despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and preserve common values", the pope went on to say, citing life, family, a sense of religion, honoring the elderly and educating the young, among others.
    The pontiff in particular recalled the he has signed with the grand imam of al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races in which "we condemn all forms of violence, especially when it is motivated by religion and we pledge to promote authentic values and peace worldwide".
    He recalled that over one million Christians live in the UAE, mainly workers from Asian countries, and that he met with representatives of the Catholic community at Abu Dhabi's St Josepth Cathedral, celebrating a mass with patriarchs, archbishops and bishops in which they "prayed in particular for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen".


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