Pope stresses respect for Muslims |
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Pope Benedict XVI who was just on a friendship mission in Turkey said Christians and Muslims should reject violence and expressed "total and profound respect" for Muslims, as he attempts to defuse a row between Islam and the Catholic Church. The Pope drew condemnation from across the Muslim world in September when he quoted the words of a Byzantine emperor who fought the Ottoman Turks and linked Islam to violence. He is also seen by some as anti-Turkish for comments he made as a cardinal in which he appeared to oppose Turkey's EU membership bid. The Vatican now says it is not opposed to such a move. The pontiff reiterated that and gave Turkey support for its bid to enter the European Union.
That is indeed the best way to bridge the civilisations earnestly. In today's multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies only mutual trust through constructive approaches alone can bring peace to the world. Any mischief played, deliberately or otherwise, by the top most leaders including the religious personalities being held in high esteem would provoke criticism and incite violence leading to terrorism. The Pope would do a great service to mankind if he keeps in mind that each word he utters has significance and, therefore, persons of his stature should tread very cautiously in making statements concerning other religions and cultures in public. There is extreme sensitivity about the attitude of the Christian West towards Turkey, and the Pope's visit may be a focus for those concerns.