May 5, 1999

Holy Father Reflects On Dialogue With Islam

VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - During his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope John Paul II approached the theme of dialogue with Muslims within the framework of his weekly reflection on interreligious dialogue for the Jubilee Year.

The Holy Father said this dialogue with Islam, which is of great importance to the Church, is based primarily on "the unity of God." He used this same language during his memorable meeting with Muslim youth at the end of its trip to Morocco in August 1985. "We believe in the same God, in a single God, a living God, a God who created the world and raises His creatures to their perfection," he said to the crowd of young Muslims gathered in Casablanca. He also reminded them that the figure of the prophet Abraham is also a common point in all the monotheist religions -- Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

These common points should not however make us forget the differences between the two religions, the Holy Father added. For Christians, "the unity of God is expressed by the mystery of the three divine persons," and this "trinitarian monotheism, typical of Christianity, remains a mystery inaccessible to human reason."

Thus, as interreligious dialogue leads "to a deeper knowledge and to a greater regard for each other" without disavowing their own convictions, Christians and Muslims "are also called to defend and promote ... human dignity, moral values, and liberty," he concluded.

At the end of his catechesis, the Pope did not greet the pilgrims present at St. Peter's in their different languages as is his custom, but rather addressed them in Romanian. "The day after tomorrow I am going to Romania," he said. "It is the first time that I visit a country where the majority of Christians are Orthodox." Using this occasion to greet the faithful of the Orthodox Church and the Romanian Catholic Church, the Pope confirmed "the links between Romania and the Holy See which have had such an importance in the history of Christianity in the region. I come to you in the name of Christ at the threshold of the third millennium." He concluded, "Dear Romanians, I wait with joy to be among you, and to all I send my affection and my regard."