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December 7 - Vatican: Pope's Prayer In Mosque Is A 'New Horizon' In Interfaith

 
Pope Benedict XVI's moment of prayer at Istanbul's Blue Mosque last week has opened up a "new horizon in interreligious dialogue" according to a top Italian Roman Catholic cleric, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia. "For the first time a Pope appealed to God in a Mosque. Not even Pope John Paul II did it in the Damascus Mosque," Paglia said referring to the 2001 visit to Syria by Benedict's predecessor.

Paglia, who heads the Italian Bishop Conference's interreligious dialogue commission and is bishop of the central Italian town of Terni, made the remarks in an inteview published Thurday on the Rome-based daily Il Messaggero.

Benedict, before his election as pope in April 2005 and as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke out against what he called "relativism" - the trend to regard all religions as essentially equal - a conviction that according to Paglia has not wavered despite the pope's prayer in the mosque accompanied by Turkey's Muslim Grand Mufti.

"There is no contradiction and no concession to relativism and confusion. Interreligious dialogue must progress along well defined parallel paths without any space for syncretism.

Comment from Understand The Times: While Muslims bow to Mecca (the focal point is the Kaba, and idolatrous block of stone with a meteorite embedded in one corner), according to Roman Catholic sources, the Pope only turned in the direction of the Kaba, and was "meditating" rather than "praying".
 
While Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia has been careful to tell the world a new horizon of interreligious dialogue has been achieved, he wants to make it clear there are still some important differences between Roman Catholicism and Islam.
 
In spite of the Monsignor's statement, I am still confused. Especially, as the result of my visit to Fatima, Portugal just a few weeks ago. There I was told that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and the Pope all bow down to and pray to Our Lady of Fatima.
 
Perhaps, the Roman Catholic Church needs to make another statement clarifying there is no contradiction or concession when Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims pray to this statue made of stone along with Roman Catholics. Until that happens, there will still be confusion.

  

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