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Pope Expresses Respect for Islam

on 2001/9/25 9:46:02 ( 1331 reads )


ASTANA, KAZAKSTAN, September 25, 2001: According to this Associated Press report, Pope John Paul II said Monday that the Catholic Church respects "authentic Islam," making the distinction between it and the fanaticism that some fear will stigmatize the religion in the wake of the U.S. attacks. The report says the pope traveled to the country "to strengthen his own church, a tiny minority comprised mainly of descendants of Catholics who were sent into labor camps and exile here." The Pope was far less aggressive here than he was in India in November, 1999. Then he said to India's Catholics, "Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent [of Asia];" "If the Church in Asia is to fulfill its providential destiny, evangelization must be your absolute priority;" and "I [the pope] pray to the Lord to send many more committed laborers to reap the harvest of souls which I see as ready and plentiful [in Asia]." Instead, John Paul advised Catholics Kazaksthan against aggressive proselytizing in a land of many faiths. To make his point, the pope used the words of a Kazak scholar, Abai Kunanbai: "Precisely because we worship God fully and have faith in him, we have no right to claim that we must force others to believe in him and worship him." Even the country's president was swayed, saying the pope was "probably one of the first leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who preaches conciliation between civilizations and between religious confessions." Unfortunately, the Pope did not preach conciliation in India.

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