Pope Francis meets top Sunni cleric after five-year freeze

Sheikh al-Tayeb and Pope Francis standing side by side, in conversationImage copyright AFPImage caption Relations between Roman Catholicism and Sunni Islam have improved since Pope Francis took office in 2013

Pope Francis has met the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque after a five-year pause in dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the mosque, the highest authority of Sunni Islam.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb visited the Vatican en route to a Paris conference involving Muslims and Catholics.

Al-Azhar froze meetings in 2011 after taking offence at some comments made by the previous pope.

It said Pope Benedict made “repetitive and negative statements” about Muslims.

At the start of the half-hour meeting on Monday, the Pope said that the fact it was taking place at all was significant.

“The meeting is the message,” he said.

Relations between Al-Azhar and the Vatican soured in 2006 after Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor in remarks taken by some Muslims to imply that Islam was a violent religion.

Pope Benedict repeatedly said the words did not reflect his personal views, but he stopped short of issuing a clear apology to Muslims.

On Monday, a Vatican spokesperson told AFP news agency that the meeting between Sheikh Tayeb and Pope Francis had been “very cordial”.

The leaders exchanged gifts, embraces and discussed conflicts and tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.

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Taken from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36364478

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Pope Francis criticises West for trying to export own brand of democracy to Iraq, Libya

Pope Francis meets young refugees from Syria and Iraq (Photo: CNS)

Pope’s Easter message calls for ‘weapons of love’

Pope Francis urged the world in his Easter message on Sunday to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of “blind and brutal violence” following terrorist attacks.

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Rome: Pope Francis criticised Western powers for trying to export their own brand of democracy to countries such as Iraq and Libya without respecting indigenous political cultures, according to an interview published on Monday.

Speaking to France’s Roman Catholic newspaper, La Croix, Francis also said Europe should better integrate migrants and praised the election of the new Muslim mayor of London as an example of where this had been successful.

The pope praised the election of Sadiq Khan as the first Muslim mayor of London. 

“Faced with current Islamist terrorism, we should question the way a model of democracy that was too Western was exported to countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq, or Libya, where there was a tribal structure,” he said.

“As a Libyan said recently, ‘We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty”, Francis said in reference to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was deposed and killed in 2011.

Francis has frequently attacked what he calls “cultural colonialism”, in which Western countries seek to impose their values on developing ones in return for financial aid.

Pope Francis has criticised Western powers. Pope Francis has criticised Western powers. Photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP

The pope said that “ghettoising” migrants was not only wrong but was also misguided in the fight against terrorism.

He cited the militant attacks in Brussels in March when three suicide bombers killed 32 people, in which “the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they came from a ghetto”.

By contrast, the pope praised this month’s election of Sadiq Khan as the first Muslim mayor of London.

“In London, the new mayor was sworn in in a cathedral and will probably be received by the queen. This shows the importance for Europe to regain its ability to integrate,” Francis said.

Ten days ago, the pope lambasted Europe over what he sees as its inadequate response to the influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle-East and Africa.

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Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/pope-francis-criticises-west-for-trying-to-export-own-brand-of-democracy-to-iraq-libya-20160516-gowmpu.html#ixzz48rWNttJd