Pope refers to 'Muslim brothers' on Good Friday

Francis reaches out during service.
Associated Press
Mar 30, 2013

Pope Francis reached out in friendship to "so many Muslim brothers and sisters" during a Good Friday procession dedicated to the suffering of Christians from terrorism, war and religious fanaticism in the Middle East.

The new pontiff, who has rankled traditionalists by rejecting many trappings of his office, mostly stuck to the traditional script during the nighttime Way of the Cross procession at Rome's Colosseum, one of the most dramatic rituals of Holy Week.

With torches lighting the way, the faithful carried a cross to different stations, where meditations and prayers were read out recalling the final hours of Jesus' life and his crucifixion.

This year, the prayers were composed by young Lebanese, and many recalled the plight of minority Christians in the region, where wars have forced thousands to flee their homelands. The meditations called for an end to "violent fundamentalism," terrorism and the "wars and violence which in our days devastate various countries in the Middle East."

Francis, who became pope just over two weeks ago, chose, however, to stress Christians' positive relations with Muslims in the region in his brief comments at the end of the ceremony.

Standing on a platform overlooking the procession route, Francis recalled Benedict XVI's 2012 visit to Lebanon when "we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others."

"That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world, a sign of hope," he said.

Friday's outreach followed Francis' eyebrow-raising gesture a day earlier, when he washed and kissed the feet of two women, one a Muslim, in the Holy Thursday ritual that commemorates Jesus' washing of his apostles' feet during the Last Supper before his crucifixion.

Breaking with tradition, Francis performed the ritual on 12 inmates at a juvenile detention center, rather than in Rome's grand St. John Lateran basilica, where in the past, 12 priests have been chosen to represent Jesus' disciples.

Before he became pope, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio long cultivated warm relations with Muslim leaders in his native Argentina. In one of his first speeches as pope, he called for the church and the West in general to "intensify" relations with the Muslim world.

The Vatican's relations with Islam hit several bumps during Benedict XVI's papacy, when he outraged Muslims with a 2006 speech quoting a Byzantine emperor as saying some of Prophet Muhammad's teachings were "evil and inhuman." And in 2011, the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world, Cairo's Al-Azhar institute, froze dialogue with the Vatican to protest Benedict's call for greater protection of Christians in Egypt.

However, Francis' past outreach to the Muslim community in Argentina seems to have changed that. Al-Azhar's chief imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, sent a message of congratulations to Francis on his election and said he hoped for cooperation.

The Vatican's efforts to reconcile with the Islamic world have not been welcomed by all. Italy's most famous Muslim convert to Catholicism, Magdi Allam, announced last week he was leaving the church because of its "soft" stance on Islam. Allam was baptized by Benedict XVI in 2008 during the high-profile Easter Vigil service when the pope traditionally baptizes a handful of adults. There has been no Vatican comment on his about-face.

Thousands of people packed the Colosseum and surrounding areas for the nighttime procession, holding candles wrapped in paper globes as Francis sat in silent prayer as a giant torch-lit crucifix twinkled nearby. Some in the crowd had Lebanese flags around their shoulders in an indication of the special role Lebanese faithful played in this year's procession.

Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East — nearly 40 percent of the country's 4 million people, with Maronite Catholics the largest sect. As civil war has raged in neighboring Syria, Lebanon's Christian community has been divided between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Overall, Christians in the Middle East have been uneasy as the Arab Spring has led to the strengthening of Islamist groups in most countries that have experienced uprisings. Thousands of Christians have fled the region — a phenomenon that the Vatican has lamented, given Christianity's roots in the Holy Land.

"How sad it is to see this blessed land suffer in its children, who relentlessly tear one another to pieces and die!" said one of the Good Friday meditations. "It seems that nothing can overcome evil, terrorism, murder and hatred."

Francis picked up on that message, saying Christ's death on the cross is "the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us."

"Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the cross upon themselves as Jesus did," he said.

At the end of the ceremony, a male choir sang a haunting Arabic hymn, a reflection of the Eastern rite influence that infused the ceremony.

On Saturday, Francis presides over the solemn Easter Vigil ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica and on Sunday, he celebrates Easter Mass and delivers an important speech. Usually the pope also issues Easter greetings in dozens of languages.

In his two weeks as pope, Francis' discomfort with speaking in any language other than Italian has become apparent. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Friday "we'll have to see" what Francis does with the multilingual greetings.

The Good Friday procession was conducted entirely in Italian, whereas in years past the core elements recounting what happens at each station would be recited in a variety of languages.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

 

Comments

The Big Dog's back

It wasn't Muslims who crucified Jesus.

Huron_1969

Nobody said they did

observer

Muslim brothers??? Are you kidding me? They don't consider Christians as "brothers"! You are INFIDELS!!! They'd just as soon slit your throat!! You blew it, Mr. Pope.

Huron_1969

Hatred breeding hatred won't make things any better

Second Opinion

Where did Observer say he hated anyone? You’re bearing false witness buddy! He stated FACTS, and if you can't deal with the FACTS then you should educate yourself before posting such rubbish and accusations.
Someone knowing FACTS about others is wise, unlike your ‘throwing stones’ at those who have studied the facts both historically and by their Islam’s own teachings and literature.

Huron_1969

Suggesting the Pope should say or be anything else is asking him to be part of the violence. The violence comes from hatred which you are supporting. Observer stated an opinion about the Pope to which I responded. You might be interested in taking an adult literacy class, it could serve you well

Factitious

Generally, only Islamist extremists regard all non-muslims as infidels. In the mainstream view, adherents to monotheistics faiths are respected. Christians and Jews are "people of the book."

Comparing the Bible to the Quran is not a simple matter. They tell many of the same stories, but the question of which is more correct is one of faith and not fact.

Now The Rest of...

Factitious, great comment, but don't confuse some of these folks with facts.

Truther

.

shucks

@Huron_1969

observer is telling you the truth.

Where have you been that you don't know that?

Pterocarya frax...

Such a nice Christian attitude.

Second Opinion

Actually, the ones throwing stones at Observer post have only revealed their total ignorance concerning Muslims along with revealing they know nothing about Christianity.

The belief that Christians should be pious and pacifists is so far from the truth. IF you ever read the Bible you would find that Christianity is FAR from being pacifists in their approach.

I suggest you do some research about Islam along with Historical Christianity. Pope Benedict didn't have the same views as this current Pope, as a matter of fact the Muslims wanted to murder Benedict for his statement "no matter what you study, research or know of Islam you will only find pain, destruction and death".

Islam is NOT a religion of peace but of the sword.
Muslims are ONLY promised eternalness in 'paradise' if they murder a Christian or a Jew, its in their Koran, read it before you post other stupid and non substantiated posts here against those of us that have read the Koran, the Talmud and the Bible.

anthras

Some persons seem to be ignorant and confused of the Catholic Catechism of Catholic Church. The Catholic Catechism is the official word of the church. If you read article 9 #839 through #845 you will become less ignorant and confused. You will see that the Catholic Church does reach out to many and there will be salvation for many other than just Catholics

Pterocarya frax...

I believe that is a bunch of hooey. Show me any passage of the Quran that says "Muslims are ONLY promised eternalness in 'paradise' if they murder a Christian or a Jew", because I can't find it.

Huron_1969

Where in the Bible can I find what you are claiming ? ---> per Second Opinion.... "The belief that Christians should be pious and pacifists is so far from the truth. IF you ever read the Bible you would find that Christianity is FAR from being pacifists in their approach."

Mrjsiah1

Why do you have to lie there is no where in the koran where it evens says anything about murdering anybody. I am a christian and i have family members who are muslims so i have has a chance to read some of the koran . I also have had the chance to sit down and talk to my cousin even tho we differ in religins i think it is bs. Most of the koran doesnt even differ from the bible tho worded different. So that is what i dont like about people that try so much to comdemn others it doesnt matter if you are muslim ,christain ,or jew. All the muslims i have come across do call everybody brothers.

shucks

Mrjsiah1 , there is a everything wrong with EVERYTHING you have said.

I'll start with your statement:

"Most of the koran doesnt even differ from the bible tho worded different."

That's evidence that you don't read either one.

Factitious

The accusations and insults hurled around hear are nothing if not ironic.

brwright

"Let Peace begin with me"! The Pope did the right thing ! There will never be Peace if we have this kind of attitude. Not all Muslims are our enemy anymore than Japanese Americans were when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor back in the day.

Kottage Kat

2 nd
AMEN and A BLESSED EASTER
HE IS RISEN

KAT

Now The Rest of...

When the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in the First Crusade, they slaughtered many Muslims and Jews. When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem he spared Christians & Jews after they surrendered and allowed them either to stay or were given safe passage. All religions in history have acted inappropriately and many have been killed in the name of god.

AJ Oliver

It's really upsetting to some that the new pope is not as bigoted as they are . .

deertracker

Exactly!

KnuckleDragger

It's really upsetting that idiots like you have forgotten about the 3k dead at 9/11 and the thousands dead from the war on terror. Maybe you should go fight, nah, you and deerfart probably couldn't handle it.

The Big Dog's back

We delivered Iraq's 9/11 in the form of "Shock and Awe". Remember?

KnuckleDragger

Remember? I served. Did you? Didn't think so.

deertracker

Hey Dog, I guess we are all beneath the DraggQueen because we did not VOLUNTEER to serve. I guess because some extreme islamist committed a terrible crime against the U.S. and it citizens, we should hate ALL Muslims. What else did you do while you served? Get a fee education maybe? Still get a check maybe or some gov't healthcare maybe? Quit your whining and bellyaching. You've been thanked!

KnuckleDragger

Don't be such a hater. Your jealousy is showing. Just think, if you would have spent 20 yrs in the military, you would have EARNED the same benefits. It really burns you that sitting home living off your wife isn't as lucrative as a military career? So I get a retirement check. I think I've stated that more than once on here. As far as govt healthcare, retirees pay quarterly premiums, copays and deductibles, so it is not free. I'm not bellyaching at all, I just stated that people are quick to jump on the muslim bandwagon despite what happened on 9/11. Oh, and let me thank you for paying for my bachelors, masters, and now doctorate degrees through the post 9/11 GI Bill...or better yet, thank your wife for me. LOL. HATER.

your babies Daddy's picture
your babies Daddy

So you have all this higher education and you work at a rent-a-center type place? Come on son you are you trying to fool boy? Since by the looks of it I've paid for most of you adult life, why dont you let me buy you lunch and we can meet face to face?

KnuckleDragger

LOL. So you need the dog to wag his little tail at you for reassurance?

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