Eight hundred years since the meeting between Saint Francis and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, the Pope who shares the name of the Assisi Saint greeted “Muslim brothers” as a “believer thirsting for peace”.

Through this gesture, Pope Francis continues the work of his predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI who sought peace with the Muslim world.

Starting with an encounter at Assisi in 1986, Saint John Paul II engaged religious leaders in this regard, to show how diversity of faith should not hinder the promotion peace, coexistence, and fraternity.

Benedict XVI maintained this trend throughout his own pontificate.  In September 2006, he said: “faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence”.

The challenging document signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, rejects the justification of violence undertaken in the name of God, emphasises respect for believers of different faiths, condemns all discrimination, argues for the protection of all places of worship, and the right to religious liberty, as well as the recognition of the rights of women.

ENDS