Rorate Caeli

"We need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem"

From Radio Vaticana, a "provisional text' of the speech that the Pope has just given to leaders of the German Muslim community (emphases mine):

Dear Muslim Friends,

I am glad to be able to welcome you here, as the representatives of different Muslim communities in Germany. From my heart I thank Professor Mouhanad Khorchide for his kind greeting. His words show me what a climate of respect and trust has grown up between the Catholic Church and the Muslim communities in Germany.

Berlin is a good place for a meeting like this, not only because the oldest mosque on German territory is located here, but also because Berlin has the largest Muslim population of all the cities in Germany.

From the 1970s onwards, the presence of numerous Muslim families has increasingly become a distinguishing mark of this country. Constant effort is needed in order to foster better mutual acquaintance and understanding. Not only is this important for peaceful coexistence, but also for the contribution that each can make towards building up the common good in this society.

Many Muslims attribute great importance to the religious dimension of life. At times this is thought provocative in a society that tends to marginalize religion or at most to assign it a place among the individual’s personal choices.

The Catholic Church firmly advocates that due recognition be given to the public dimension of religious adherence. In an overwhelmingly pluralist society, this demand is not unimportant. Care must be taken to guarantee that others are always treated with respect. Mutual respect grows only on the basis of agreement on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person. Such agreement does not limit the expression of individual religions; on the contrary, it allows each person to bear witness explicitly to what he believes, not avoiding comparison with others.

In Germany – as in many other countries, not only Western ones – this common frame of reference is articulated by the Constitution, whose juridical content is binding on every citizen, whether he belong to a faith community or not.

Naturally, discussion over the best formulation of principles like freedom of public worship is vast and open-ended, yet it is significant that the Basic Law expresses them in a way that is still valid today at a distance of over sixty years (cf. Art. 4:2). In this law we find above all the common ethos that lies at the heart of human coexistence and that also in a certain way pervades the apparently formal rules of operation of the institutions of democratic life.

We could ask ourselves how such a text – drawn up in a radically different historical epoch, that is to say in an almost uniformly Christian cultural situation – is also suited to present-day Germany, situated as it is within a globalized world and marked as it is by a remarkable degree of pluralism in the area of religious belief.

The reason for this seems to me to lie in the fact that the fathers of the Basic Law at that important moment were fully conscious of the need to find particularly solid ground with which all citizens would be able to identify. In seeking this, they did not prescind from their own religious beliefs; indeed for many of them, the real source of inspiration was the Christian vision of man. But they knew they had to engage with the followers of other religions and none: common ground was found in the recognition of some inalienable rights that are proper to human nature and precede every positive formulation.

In this way, an essentially homogeneous society laid the foundations that we today consider valid for a markedly pluralistic world, foundations that actually point out the evident limits of pluralism: it is inconceivable, in fact, that a society could survive in the long term without consensus on fundamental ethical values.

Dear friends, on the basis of what I have outlined here, it seems to me that there can be fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims. In the process, we help to build a society that differs in many respects from what we brought with us from the past. As believers, setting out from our respective convictions, we can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society. I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice.

This is another reason why I think it important to hold a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, as we plan to do on 27 October next, twenty-five years after the historic meeting in Assisi led by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II. Through this gathering, we wish to express, with simplicity, that we believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem.

With these sentiments I renew my sincere greetings and I thank you for this meeting, which has greatly enriched my visit to my homeland. Thank you for your attention!
Photo from Daylife


  1. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I must say: the Pope looks awfully old and tired during this trip.

  2. And how do you expect 84-old man caring the burden of responsibility for the entire mankind should look like? Young and fresh?

  3. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Pray for him.

    Fr. A.M.

  4. Anonymous12:17 PM

    I hardly know what to say. I love Our Holy Father and want so much to follow what he says but I'm bewildered at this ambiguity and can't see the point in it. Mind you, what else could he say at these contrived " inter-religious -dialogue meetings" ? They are not a good idea,I think. But who am I? Maybe I am missing something. Maybe he is very tired. The world is battering him. No maybes - special prayers for him today.


  5. Matthew12:23 PM

    "We believers..." do we believe in the same things...or the same God as the Muslims? Is that what the Holy Father is saying?

    I suppose (I say that reluctantly) I can understand the Holy Father's desire to encourage collaboration with the Muslims with respect to promoting even the possibility of religion in the public sphere, a notion the aggressively secular West seems to have theoretically abandoned and practically is abandoning, but what then? Europe's foundation is Christian, surely a return to Christian society would not be a bad thing. What then, after this "collaboration?" Islam and Catholicism are not the same religions.

  6. Anonymous12:24 PM

    This is another reason why I think it important to hold a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, as we plan to do on 27 October next, twenty-five years after the historic meeting in Assisi led by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II.

    Historic is one word to describe it. I suspect there are many others but I will leave that for readers to contemplate. In light of the First Commandment why must we honor false religions? That is the question yet to be answered according to the doctrinal preamble.


  7. Dear Mahometans. Please stop killing us. It is bad for the whole dignity of man thing.

    Thank you.

  8. M. A.1:13 PM

    "...he had certain strange principles which, explain them as he might, appeared to me irreconcilable with the faith. He said to me, for example, that...we must protect all beliefs equally, error as well as truth. We had a good understanding on many points, but never on this.

    "..yes, it is this game of seesaw which will end up destroying [the Catholic] religion in your country. Clearly one must practice charity and love one's erring brothers; but for this, there is no need to come to terms with error..."
    - Blessed Pio Nono

  9. Hieronymus2:19 PM

    It seems that "religions" are increasingly contrasted with secularism -- as though these are the two rivals engaged in the battle for souls. We, the artificially homogenized religious faction, should see each man on our side as an equal ally...
    But whatever happened to the classical Catholic paradigm of "truth vs error"?

  10. I think the Holy Father continues to urge Muslims, et al., to fight on the side of truth alongside the Church because of the tendency among that bunch to adopt, at best, a "wait and see" approach to the decline of the West. At worst they want it to collapse--what do they care if a non-Muslim society becomes pagan? How is that different to them than a non-Muslim society becoming or remaining Christian?

    The Holy Father understands that civilization is worth saving because man's intrinsic dignity is better respected when there is not chaos. So the Holy Father is just trying--desperately--to keep these people engaged and participating in the maintenance of a civilization that is fundamentally not their own. What a tremendous task!

    I will view Assisi in this light and am untroubled by it.

  11. Anonymous3:24 PM

    In light of the First Commandment why must we honor false religions? That is the question yet to be answered...

    If you don't mind, I'll attempt to answer my own question. It is because those false religions are out to minimize, murder, maim or kill us and, after all, it is peace that we seek above all else. What ever happened to the admonition to us in our traditional confirmations that we were made "soldiers of Christ" out to establish His reign on earth?


  12. Joe B3:31 PM

    "... protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice."

    These people strap bombs on their children, stone women accused of sin to death, and watch TV shows of the sawing off of American heads, all without a peep of protest. They want to kill all Jews and put that damnable Sharia law on the heads of Christians. This is truly a Satanic religion. Isn't it the Holy Father's job to tell such barbaric societies to convert instead of coddling them?

  13. Anonymous3:32 PM

    During the past four years, I have almost daily worked and interacted with Muslims. During that time I have encountered the following:

    Almost to a person...

    1. They hate Pope Benedict XVI. In turn, they insist that His Holiness hates Muslims.

    2. They hate the Catholic Church.

    3. They hate non-Islamic religions.

    4. Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross.

    The Catholic Church lied in regard to the Crucifixion.

    The most common belief is that an imposter of Jesus was nailed to the Cross.

    "That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them..."

    —Qur'an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158.

    5. They use Pope John Paul II's endless apologies as "proof" that the Catholic Religion is "evil".

    I have heard countless times that "even your Pope admitted that your religion has spread harm against other people."

    6. I have not witnessed any sense of peace among Muslims that has resulted from their religious beliefs.

    On the contrary, I have heard them justify in the name of Islam a violent approach to non-Muslims —"infidels."

    7. My parish has rammed down our throats that we are to hold Muslims in high regard for such practices as fasting diligently during Ramadan.

    What our Churchmen withold (or don't realize themselves) from the Faithful is that following sundown during days of Ramadan, gorging on food is typical among Muslims.

    During the fasting period, which Catholics are supposed to "admire," weight gain is commonplace among Muslims.

    "At the end of the day they'll want to have their sweets," said Abed Ghacham, the owner of Sweet Factory, a Middle Eastern pastry shop.

    "Ramadan is one of the shop's busiest months.

    "The flaky golden baklava, pistachio-encrusted cookies and other treats neatly displayed at the bakery are the reason many Muslims end up gaining weight during Ramadan."

    Anybody who becomes familiar with Muslims will discover that Middle Eastern bakeries flourish during a "holy" fasting period that Catholics are supposed to hold in high regard.

    8. There is much more...but I can say with certainty that what post-Vatican II Churchmen have taught me in regard to Islam is simply out of touch with that which I've encountered among Muslims.

    Sorry, but interfaith "dialogue" with Islam is useless.

  14. What ever happened to the admonition to us in our traditional confirmations that we were made "soldiers of Christ" out to establish His reign on earth?

    But what you're advocating is simply an alternative approach that, like the Holy Father's, is within the bounds of possibility. You can haggle with His Holiness all you like whether you or His Holiness is correct, i.e., whether a new Crusade is most prudent (impossible, really, as the world is one of nation-states now, and not ideologically aligned into "Christendom" or "The East" etc.) or whether it is most prudent to attempt to bring Islam out of its irrational dark age and sow in it the leaven of civilization.

  15. Anonymous7:13 PM

    I think it right to encourage truth where truth exists in non-Catholic religions, even if it is not a 'perfected' form of truth. Surely if they are searching for truth, we want to encourage this ? For me, this is another way of trying to bring nations and individuals to realize, through God's grace, that the Catholic Church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and is necessary for salvation. Where there are common values, moral norms etc. between, say Catholics and Moslems/some Protestant communities - e.g. on immorality of abortion - then we do have a moral obligation to fight a common foe together. Nothing is lost by talking with non-Catholics. Everything is lost by war and violence, and we should be careful not to put all Moselms into the one basket, despite what the Koran may or may not say. Our Lady, Stella Maris, pray for the conversion of the world. Fr. A.M.

  16. Anonymous12:16 AM

    We've been dialoging for decades now and have been taken to the cleaners. The diplomatic mindset is killing us (literally). When bishops weren't afraid to antagonize other groups and Catholics were a more cohesive body, we had things like the production code, which was an attempt to curb the smut coming out of Hollywood. What progress has diplomacy gotten us? I can't see much in Western culture, which is plumbing the depths of depravity. It seems to me that many people in the West are more concerned about welcoming Muslims, than fighting for the rights of God. Meanwhile, our Christian brothers and sisters are being slaughtered and run out of the Middle East. Part of the problem, I think, lay in theologians ditching Thomism, which explains that solving divisions isn't always a matter of education and discussion. Resistance can be rooted in the emotions and will which are by definition non-rational. That's why children need to be habituated in virtue and not merely educated. This distinction is lost in modernity, where the intellectual and moral spheres are vitiated. Anglicans are "ordaining" bishopesses, Muslims are murdering and butchering in the name of Allah like they always have and secular society is embracing all forms of perversion. We don't need to have religious wars or violence, true, but we don't have to accept all of this in our own homes either. The rejection of the Catholic social order for pluralism (thanks to the Freemasons, liberals, commies, etc.) is failing because the new order is based not on the will and plan of God, but on man. In my view, the more the Church acknowledges and proclaims this, like the Gospel, the better. Barring a miracle, it is too late at this point for a restoration, much as it is impossible for an economic recovery when trillions in debt. We are going to ride this path to its conclusion, which seems to be in harmony with the trajectory of Catholic eschatology.

  17. Anonymous1:41 AM

    This kind of Ecumenism has lost it gloss. They are propping up a dead horse. If the Pope and priests would simply preach the truth plainly as did our forefathers many lost souls would return to the a price but well worth it.

  18. Gratias4:44 AM

    Consensus on ethical values is not possible with Muslims that seek to impose Sharia Law in our lands while preventing evangelization and building churches in theirs. They bomb Catholic churches and Christians are being expelled from the Middle East where they have lived continuously since seven centuries before the Satanic Verses of the Coran were dictated. Families based on Marriage? Mahommetans have four wives and cut off the clytoris of their daughters.

    I liked the Regensburg address better.

    The Holy Father is being worked too hard. Better to let him write on deep philosophical matters such as His address to
    the Bundestag.

  19. Matthew, of couse that we believe in the same God as Muslims.

  20. Anonymous12:34 PM

    But what you're advocating is simply an alternative approach that, like the Holy Father's, is within the bounds of possibility.

    So, according to your thinking, the restoration of all things in Christ is merely an alternative approach? Incredible! Where and how were you formed in the Faith?


  21. Anonymous1:45 PM

    I do not grasp this appeal.Islam will not rest until we submit. Appealing to a secular constitution does not work. When they have sufficient number then as it did with Nazism and Communism the constitution will be thrown out.
    Why? Being faithful to the peverse book and vile man Mohammed impels them. He is their model. "The Imitation of Mohammed" is not "the Imitation of Christ". Our Country is our home and inviting a smiling enemies into our home means we lack the courage of our convictions. It secularists are attacking the Church...why let another enemy come into your country?

  22. Sobieski3:55 PM

    "Matthew, of couse that we believe in the same God as Muslims."

    How so? Muslims deny central tenets of our faith like the Incarnation and divinity of Christ, His death on the Cross and the the Trinity.

    Whether the Object of Faith Is the First Truth? St. Thomas: "Accordingly if we consider, in faith, the formal aspect of the object, it is nothing else than the First Truth. For the faith of which we are speaking, does not assent to anything, except because it is revealed by God. Hence the mean on which faith is based is the Divine Truth."

    Whether Anything False Can Come under Faith? St. Thomas: "Nothing comes under any power, habit or act, except by means of the formal aspect of the object: thus color cannot be seen except by means of light, and a conclusion cannot be known save through the mean of demonstration. Now it has been stated that the formal aspect of the object of faith is the First Truth; so that nothing can come under faith, save in so far as it stands under the First Truth, under which nothing false can stand, as neither can non-being stand under being, nor evil under goodness. It follows therefore that nothing false can come under faith."

    I suppose one could argue that we hold similar philosophical conclusions about God insofar as He is immaterial, infinite, intelligent, omnipotent, etc., but I don't see how we can hold strictly speaking that the object of the habit of religious faith is the same for believers between the two religions. Since the time of Al-Ghazali, however, Muslims have been given over more to fideism and voluntarism, so it's not clear to me how fruitful philosophical discussions about the nature of God or natural law, for example, would be.

  23. just a catholic4:05 PM

    Our Holy Father is talking in such diplomatic way, cause he lacks SUPPORT from us, that means our believers side.
    Or did anyone of uscatholics (including me)organised or participitated in demonstrantions supporting our holyy father in the year 2006 when the whole Islam World raged against him cause of his Regensburg speech? Pope was threatened, Chruches in Orient were burned down, people were killed and we, the catholics in west or else in the world, stayed quiet and acted like cowards!
    PAX vobiscum

  24. Ogard5:29 PM

    “Muslims deny central tenets of our faith like the Incarnation and divinity of Christ, His death on the Cross and the Trinity” – says Sobieski, and he is right, but the tenets listed do not affect the tenet about God as creator of the Universe.

    All the tenets listed we know and believe because they have been revealed in Judeo-Christian Revelation, but God - albeit not everything about Him - can also be known naturally, without Revelation. It is not merely a philosophical fact, but it is a dogma promoted by Vatican I:

    “Si quis dixerit Deum unum et verus, creatoremand Dominum nostrum per ea, que facta sunt, naturale rationis humanae lumine certo cognosci non posse, A.S.” – If anybody says that one true God, our Creator and Lord cannot be know with certainty in the light of human reason by those things which have been made, anathema sit” (D. 1806).

    From Quran and Hadith (tradition) it is known that Mohamed was in contact with Jews and Christians. He wanted to eliminate the polytheism which was widespread in Arabia in his time. So, partly by the light of reason, partly – in an indirect way from his contacts – from Revelation, he was convinced of One God and Creator, whom he called Allah, which is Arabic name for God, analogous to the Yahweh of the Old Testament. It is used by the Christian Arabs as well.

    One doesn’t have to believe in Trinity or Incarnation to believe in God.

  25. Sobieski3:57 AM

    "One doesn’t have to believe in Trinity or Incarnation to believe in God."

    I think Mohammed was also in contact with the devil (cf. the Satanic verses), but that is another issue.

    Belief and knowledge are not the same thing. I don't deny that Muslims may know truths about God that are available to reason. God known by reason is the object of metaphysics which considers being qua being and its first principles. I do not doubt, for example, that non-believers like Ibn Sina or Ibn Rushd knew God as the first principle of being. But they did not have Christian faith or believe in the same God. That was the point of my citation of St. Thomas. The object of divinely infused faith is the First Truth. The act of faith is belief. Someone who denies the Trinity, for example, does not have divine faith like a Catholic Christian because their habit does not consider the same object. They may know God by reason philosophically, but such knowledge would fall under the habit of the science of metaphysics or under opinion, which is not the same as the habit of faith.

    Whether a man who disbelieves one article of faith, can have lifeless faith in the other articles? St. Thomas: "Neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith. The reason of this is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will." (ST 2-2.5.3)

    If this applies to the heretic, then a fortiori it applies to the Muslim and unbeliever. St. Thomas states, "Unbelievers cannot be said to believe in a God as we understand it in relation to the act of faith. For they do not believe that God exists under the conditions that faith determines; hence they do not truly believe in a God, since, as the Philosopher observes (Metaph. ix, text. 22) to know simple things defectively is not to know them at all." (ST 2-2.2.2 ad. 4)

    The Vatican I quote cannot mean that God can be known in the way that Christians believe because then it would do away with faith (e.g., the Trinity or the divinity of Christ would be accessible to reason). If you want to equivocate on the term "believe," then fine.

  26. Anonymous5:49 AM

    To Sobieski,

    " "Neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith."

    Thank you for that great post and reference to St. Thomas. My "Catholic sense" has always suggested this to me - St. Thomas explains why this is so - an axiom which I have neither sufficient authority nor real knowledge to defend. This helps.


  27. Anonymous2:16 PM

    The Moslem god is not the same as the God of Abraham. Do you know any precedence for the way in which it is falsely claimed God spoke through the false phrophet of Islam? No.
    Does the god of Islam have the same attributes of the God o Abraham? No
    Does the god of Islam ask for things that contradicts the commands/injunctions of the Gog of Abraham? Yes
    I conclude it is not the same God!

  28. "but the tenets listed do not affect the tenet about God as creator of the Universe."

    Yes they do, fundamentally.
    Almighty God created us for a specific purpose of which Our Blessed Lord Jesus and The Holy Ghost are central with Him. To attempt to obviate this in order to reconcile false and true religion is really the worst form of ecumenical and interreligious permissiveness. Read, study and digest - mahomatenism does not worship the same God as we do. The hypothesis is absurd.

  29. Ogard7:12 AM

    I posted early yesterday the first part of reply, which hasn’t been approved yet. It contains a citation from Quran, Nostra Aetate, and Letter of the Pope Gregory VII to Anzir, King of Mauritania. All three contain crucial information for the second part of reply, which – under my circumstances – will now have to be put off for the next week.
    Anonymous and Leon G, you have misunderstood me.

  30. Tradical2:03 PM

    For reference to Church teaching on the Muslims, here's what is written in the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

    11 Q. Who are they who are outside the true Church?
    A. Outside the true Church are: Infidels, Jews, heretics, apostates, schismatics, and the excommunicated.

    12 Q. Who are infidels?
    A. Infidels are those who have not been baptised and do not believe in Jesus Christ, because they either believe in and worship false gods as idolaters do, or though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.

    13 Q. Who are the Jews?
    A. The Jews are those who profess the Law of Moses; have not received baptism; and do not believe in Jesus Christ.

    14 Q. Who are heretics?
    A. Heretics are those of the baptised who obstinately refuse to believe some truth revealed by God and taught as an article of faith by the Catholic Church; for example, the Arians, the Nestorians and the various sects of Protestants.


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