A Statement issued by Al-Liqa’ Centre
We Palestinian Arabs, Muslims and Christians, highly value the historic attitude of the Vatican towards our Palestinian cause which was viewed by His Holiness late Pope John Paul II as his personal cause. We don’t forget the document of the Second Vatican Council on “the relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions” which states that “the Church regards with esteem the Muslims who worship the one God….. the Creator of the heaven and earth who has spoken to men….. they revere Jesus as a prophet….. they also honour Mary, His Virgin Mother….. they value the moral life and worship God by prayer, almsgiving and fasting….. since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, the Holy Synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding…..”.
Accordingly, and on the basis of this distinguished relation, we were surprised by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI quoting words from a Byzantine Emperor that show the extent of the Emperor’s hatred and grudge that he bears against Islam and Muslims.
How much we wish His Holiness had quoted dialogue texts from the East between Muslim and Christian Arabs of the Middle Ages which are so many to show to what extent both parties relied on the intellect and logic in their open dialogue and common living. Certainly, the mutual respect and common living are still existing.
Since we started it in 1983, our Christian Islamic dialogue at Al-Liqa’ Centre has been based on the intellect, morals, objectivity and emphasizing meeting points in addition to the recognition of the reality of the differences between the two religions and the right to be different. We have always drawn the attention to the fact that ignorance is the first foe of the dialogue and that the superiority over others and the attempt to exclude them or to accuse them are among the factors that divide but not unite, keep away but not bring closer, increase hatred instead of bringing hearts together.
Therefore, we call upon His Holiness Benedict XVI to heal this wound as soon as possible following the example of Christ’s modesty so as to stop its bleeding and keep the gap in relation from getting wider between the Islamic and Christian worlds in general and Muslim and Christian Arabs in particular.
We also appeal to our people in Palestine and all other Arab Islamic countries not to allow their reactions to deviate from the principles of the True Islamic Religion which calls for love, respect for the other and not to harm any of the places of worship, monasteries, clergy and our Christian brothers or to resort to violence because such acts will harm both heavenly religions and our national unity which is badly needed in these difficult days so as not to give the chance for plotters and opportunists.
On the occasion of the blessed month of Ramadan, we extend our warmest congratulations to all Muslims wishing them a blessed month and acceptable fasting.
And together, Christians and Muslims towards achieving our objectives in freedom and independence and establishing our Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.
Jerusalem – Bethlehem