The new leader of Catholic Christians, Francis is willing to have cordial relations with the religion of Islam. He expressed this desire while delivering his first foreign policy address at the Vatican on 22 March. ‘It is important to intensify dialogue among different religions “particularly dialogue with Islam”.’ (The Times of India, 23 March) This assertion of the new Pope is in a way in accordance with the expectations of the Islamic world. The news and reports on his views and thoughts as well as leanings published since his taking charge of this high post in March last revealed that he is an apt religious leader and that he would review the relationships between Islam and Christianity. That is, like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, he would not mar the relations.
The Eminence of the Pope
The eminence of the Pope is the highest position of Catholic Christianity with 1.2 billion following. There is no term fixed for the election of the Pope. The Pope determines the thoughts and trends of the entire Christian world. Therefore, at the time of the election of every Pope, the Islamic world also looks at it with keen interest as to how the new Pope of the Christian world would say about Islam and other religions. In this regard, the last Pope Benedict XVI disappointed them very much. He not only did not name any religion other than Christianity and Judaism in his very first address but also on a later occasion gave the evidence of his narrow-mindedness and ignorance when he uttered blasphemous words about Islam and the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) with reference to some rude Christian ruler of the past. The 8-year regime of Pope Benedict was not good even for Christianity and the Christian world. During this period, moral delinquency, sexual anarchy and many kinds of scandals appeared. The entire Christian world went downward on the moral and religious scale. Attendance in churches diminished. The new Pope Francis has inherited this depravity which he wants to reform.
Good omen for Muslim UmmahThe real name of the new Pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. As the Pope, he himself took Francis as his alias. He belongs to the Latin American country Argentina and he is the first non-European Pope in the last one thousand years. He is very simple and soft-spoken as per his temperament and standard of living. – His desire to have a dialogue with Islam is indeed good omen for the Muslim Ummah. – It is still not known as to what he knows about Islam and what his study on Islam is. However, as a cardinal and archbishop, he must have known that Islam takes Jesus Christ as one of the revered Messengers. And that the faith of a Muslim is not complete without accepting him as a Prophet. According to the faith of Muslim Ummah, the Qur’ān is the last book of God which covers the basic teachings of all the previous prophets including Jesus Christ. The new Pope perhaps might also be aware of the opinion of American scholar John L. Esposito that there are more bases of agreement than disagreement between Islam and Christianity. If he initiates a dialogue with the followers of Islam, he would find the Muslim Ummah very much open-hearted and far-sighted, God willing.