VATICAN CITY, Dec. 13, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — In an audience at the Vatican City today (December 13, 2013) the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, discussed issues of mutual concern with His Holiness Pope Francis. This was the first ever meeting between an OIC Secretary General and Pope.
During the meeting the OIC Secretary General expressed his appreciation for the audience with Pope Francis and commended his vision to revitalize the dialogue between Christians and Muslims at a time when this dialogue has taken on ever-greater importance, as today the presence of Muslims in historically Christian countries has expanded, while some OIC countries either have native Christian communities or have witnessed in recent years arrival of Christians as guest workers. In this context, the discussions expressed the need for greater efforts to foster respect for religious pluralism and cultural diversity, and to counter the spread of bigotry and prejudices. It was stressed that interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and as such it is a duty for adherents of all faith traditions.
Secretary General Ihsanoglu shared with His Holiness Pope Francis his vision regarding the need for a “historic reconciliation” between Islam and Christianity based on the common Abrahamic roots and in order to support multiculturalism and harmonious societies. His Holiness commended the proposal of the Secretary General and stressed the need to follow it up.
Concern was also expressed regarding the increase of inter-communal tension between Muslim and Christian communities and over the transformation of communal conflicts in some parts of the world into religiously motivated conflicts, even though the root causes are not religious in nature. Concern was also expressed about the exploitation of religion in conflict situations as a means to mobilize supporters.
Establishing a secondary, cultural tract to support interfaith dialogue initiatives was highlighted
Views were exchanged on regional and international developments, especially the situation in Palestine, and the hope was expressed that the Holy City of Jerusalem be a City where Jews, Christians and Muslims may live and worship in peace and harmony.
Concern and dismay were also expressed about the continuation of violence in Syria which requires a solution based on dialogue and negotiation.
The Secretary General concurred with the vision of Pope’s Francis on the need for a just world where poverty and hunger are eradicated and commended him for being recognized as the person of the year by the Time magazine.
Before the audience with Pope Francis, the OIC Delegation met with Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States to discuss ways and means for forging ties of institutional cooperation between the Holy See and OIC to contribute to global peace and security.