Pope Francis’ Dialogue Initiatives with Muslims
Opportunities and Challenges
Pope Francis’ dialogue activities with the Muslim world have been welcomed by the majority of Muslims and covered extensively in media. His visits to Muslim countries, meeting with the heads of state and official religious authorities, and his encouraging Catholics for dialogue activities can contribute to world peace. This article will first elaborate on how the terms “Ahl al-Kitab” and “Ummah Muqtasidah” (Moderate Nation) are interpreted by Quranic exegetes. These two terms of the Qur’an are the key for the theology of Islam regarding dialogue. Secondly, the article will focus on Nostra Aetate which is considered one of the most critical turning points in the history of Catholic-Muslim relations. This study has two arguments. The first is that the statements of Pope Francis about the practice of dialogue can contribute to world peace if applied both within institutions and at the grassroots. The second is that if Pope Francis’ dialogue activities involve only religious leaders officially appointed by governments in the Muslim world and exclude independent religious leaders, the impact will be significantly lessened. This paper also proposes that for fruitful dialogue activities, both Catholics and Muslims should focus on moral qualities rather than theological differences.
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