ROME: Pope Francis calls for Christian Muslim understanding.
The Al-AzharUniversity in Cairo- one of the most significant centres of Sunni Islamic education has stated that,” Pope Francis has sent a personal message to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayyeb.”
According to an imperative Catholic website in Arabic, www.abouna.org, a meeting took place between Al Tayyeb and the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Mgr. Jean-Paul Gobel. During the meeting the Nuncio reportedly delivered the message Pope Francis sent to the Muslim world.
According to Al-Azhar, in his message the Pope stressed the Vatican s respect for Islam and said he hoped every effort would be made towards achieving mutual understanding between the world s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice. Al Tayyeb replied that,”The message Al-Azhar wished to get out is one of respect for people of every religion and the safeguarding of human dignity and the highest values described in the Quran and the Sunnah. He also said that Muslims are willing to collaborate to help justice and progress grow among the people of the Earth.”
This communiqué issued by the University of Al-Azhar is significant seeing the tensions between the Sunni centre of learning and the Vatican. The President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran responded by saying that, ”It was Al-Azhar that had interrupted dialogue with the Holy See. The Holy See had kept the door of dialogue open.”
Al Tayyeb and the University of Al-Azhar have been established as an important reference point for Christians through the painful past in Egypt. Even through Mohammed Morsi s regime the Great Imam attempted on more than one occasions to act as an arbitrator with Christians, inviting the anger of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Apostolic Vicar of Alexandria, Mgr. Adel Zaki told Fides news agency that, ”A strong collaborative agreement between Al Azhar and the Council of Christian Churches is being registered.”