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Pope urges Church to Intensify Dialogue with Islam

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Vatican City: Pope Francis called for the Roman Catholic Church to “intensify” its dialogue with Islam, echoing hopes in the Muslim World for better ties with the Vatican during his reign. “It is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam,” the new pontiff said in an address to foreign ambassadors at the Vatican. The new pontiff has been welcomed by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Al-Azhar. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Jeddah-based OIC, said that he hoped “the relationship between Islam and Christianity will regain its cordiality and sincere friendship”.
Mahmud Azab, adviser for interfaith affairs to Al-Azhar Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb in Cairo, stated: “As soon as a new policy emerges, we will resume the dialogue with the Vatican”. In his address, Francis also called for the Church to dialogue more with non-believers “” returning to an effort begun during Benedict’s reign amid rising secularism in the Western world. “It is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship,” he said.
The Argentine pope said he wanted to “build bridges connecting all people” and said this was particularly significant for him personally because of his own Italian immigrant roots. “This dialogue between places and cultures, a great distance apart matters greatly to me,” the pope said. He referred to it as a “dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent”. The 76-year-old pope elected last month said he wanted the Church to struggle against poverty in all its forms. “How many poor people there still are in the world!” he said, adding that there was also a “spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called rich nations particularly seriously”.