Dialogue is essential, Pope Francis tells British Muslim leaders
VATICAN— Pope Francis met Wednesday with a delegation of Muslim leaders from Great Britain along with Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster to promote dialogue and collaboration following the deadly attack in London last month.
During the private meeting at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall April 5, Pope Francis said the most important job everyone has in this moment is to listen to each other.
“I like to think that the most important work that we must do among us today, in humanity, is the work ‘of the ear:’ to listen to each other,” he stated. “To listen to each other, without rushing to answer.”
Following the audience with Francis, the group also met with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
The meetings at the Vatican were organized following an attack on London’s Palace of Westminster March 22.
According to the Guardian, four people were killed in the attack, including the police officer who was stabbed and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.
Wednesday’s delegation consisted of Muhammad Shahid Raza, chairman of the British Muslim Forum; Ali Raza Rizvi, president of Majilis e Uluma Europe; Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, director of the General Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society; and Ibrahim Mogra, co-chair of the Christian Muslim Forum.
“The ability to listen, this is so important,” the Pope said during the meeting. “It’s interesting: when people have this capacity to listen, they speak in a low tone, calmly… Instead, when they do not have this, they speak loudly and shout as well.”
“Between brothers, all of us need to talk, to listen to each other and speak slowly, calmly, to search for the way together. And when you listen and speak, you are already on the way,” he said.
According to a statement from the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Nichols said they were all “deeply moved” to meet with the Pope.
“We draw great inspiration from his leadership and his encouragement to walk together on the road of profound spiritual dialogue.”
“I also hope that this moment will help the voice of authentic Islam to be heard clearly. We look forward to our continuing promotion of collaboration at a local level at the service of all in society,” he continued.
Moulana Muhammad Shahid Raza called the meeting “a historic moment,” bringing together Christians and Muslims in “unity and solidarity for peace.”
“I could see the sincerity and love in his eyes as he offered words of encouragement to all of us as we came together in unity,” said Moulana Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi. “This is an important meeting offering hope for everyone, regardless of religion.”
“There is a common humanity to all of us. Some seek to divide people, religions, east versus west, but there is no east or west; there is just our common humanity as we seek a peaceful future for all based on justice and compassion.”
Pope Francis sent a letter the day following the London attack expressing his sorrow and solidarity for the victims and their families, and entrusting them and the nation to God’s mercy.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” a March 23 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.
The Pope commended the souls of those who died “to the loving mercy of Almighty God,” and prayed for “divine strength and peace upon their grieving families,” while assuring of his prayer for the entire nation.