This is ‘a clear signal of how important relations with the Muslim community are in the context of his own ministry’ says the Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Office for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark, Kevin McDonald.
Pope Francis has chosen this year to send a personal message to Muslims throughout the world for the close of Ramadan. Normally a message is sent by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The fact that the Pope has sent this message in his own name is a clear signal of how important relations with the Muslim community are in the context of his own ministry.
Remarkable, too, is the fact that the openness we are coming to see as characteristic of Pope Francis is here clearly evident in the sphere of interreligious relations. The message is an appeal for mutual respect between the religions.
He calls for “an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem.” There can be no defamation or unfair criticism. Rather relations must be characterised by respect which is mutual.
“In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.” The Pope also call for dialogue and cooperation to be enhanced. The message is particularly timely in Britain where we continue to live with the aftermath of the killing of Lee Rigby.
That terrible event sowed the seeds of deep conviction about the need to build a new kind of culture in which religions work together in mutual respect to bring about a new situation – one characterised by commitment to one another and to the Common Good.
The message of Pope Francis is a great encouragement as we seek to respond to this great challenge of our times.
You can download a PDF of Pope Francis’ message of greeting to the world’s Muslims by using the link in the top right-hand corner of this article.
We have a suggested bidding prayer for ‘Id al Fitr, taken from a series of leaflets offering bidding prayers on the occasion of the major festivals of other religions. It also contains some more information about Eid and Islam in general.
‘Id al-Fitr is one of the two main festivals in the Muslim year, and celebrates the blessings of Ramadan on the first day of the month that follows the month of Ramadan. It is traditionally celebrated with an open-air prayer gathering, the exchange of gifts, and the wearing of new clothes.