In a personally written message to the Muslim world, Pope Francis has offered Eid greetings and called for “mutual respect” between religions, as Ramadan, or the Muslim month of fasting, draws to a close.
This is the first time a Pope has personally greeted Muslims, since 1991, when a similarly personal greeting to Muslims was delivered by the popular Pope, John Paul II, in the aftermath of the Gulf War.
It is traditional for the Vatican to issue Eid wishes, but it is usually done by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims,” Francis said.
The Pope also stressed the need for dialogue with Islam. “We are delighted at this unique gesture from the Vatican,” said Maulana Umer Illyasi, a Muslim cleric and president of All India Imams’ Organisation.
Archbishop of Agra Albert D’Souza told HT that the Pope was a “unique communicator” for “practical humanism” because he came from a society steeped in poverty and misery.