One day after ignoring Islam and hailing the “great spiritual heritage” shared by Jews and Christians in his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict XVI on Monday, April 25, welcomed progress in Christian-Muslim dialogue.
“I am particularly grateful for the presence in our midst of members of the Muslim community,” the pontiff said in a private audience with the leaders of other religions and Christian Churches, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“I express my appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and international level,” said the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
“I assure you that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole,” added the 78-year-old pope.
In a homily marking his inauguration, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to “my brothers and sisters” of the Jewish people, but failed to make any reference to Islam or Muslims.
Robert Spencer, who had anticipated a harder line on Islam from the new pontiff, is worried that this may be “a sign that this Pope will continue along a familiar path of dhimmitude”. He finds some reassurance in the thought that the Pope’s call on “those who profess to belong to religious traditions” to follow the path of peace “might have been a pointed declaration to his audience that they need to clean their own house”.