“In the mosque I prayed to the Lord for these wars to stop!” (Vatican Insider, 30/11/14)

In the interview Pope Francis gave on the return flight to Rome, he spoke about interreligious dialogue, asking political leaders, scholars and Muslim religious figures to speak out against fundamentalist terrorism. Regarding unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, he said that “uniatism” is not the way forward. “I want to go to Iraq“ and “I would like to meet the Patriarch of Moscow”

Pope Francis wants to go to Iraq and has not given up on his plan. He also wants to meet the Patriarch of Moscow. In the interview with journalists on board the return flight from Turkey to Rome, the Pope talked about yesterday’s events in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.

“It is true that there has been a reaction to these terrorist acts not just in this region but in Africa as well. “f this is Islam it makes me angry!” So many Muslims feel offended, they say: “But that is not what we are, the Quran is a prophetic book of peace, this (terrorism) is not Islamism. I can understand this. And I sincerely believe that we cannot say all Muslims are terrorists, just as we cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists – we also have fundamentalists among us, all religions have these little groups. I told President Erdogan that it would be good to issue a clear condemnation against these kinds of groups. All religious leaders, scholars, clerics, intellectuals and politicians should do this. This way they would hear it from their leader’s mouth. There needs to be an international condemnation from Muslims across the world. It needs to say, “no, this is not what the Quran is about!”. There should also always be a distinction between what a religion proposes and the concrete use of that proposal by a concrete government. The way you govern your country may not be Islamic or Jewish or Christian. The name is often used but the reality does not reflect what the religion says.”

“I’m going to speak frankly: (we) Christians are being chased from the Middle East. In some cases, as we have seen in Iraq, in the Mosul area, they have to leave or pay a tax that may be unnecessary. Soemtimes they chase us away kindly.”

Interreligious dialogue
“I had what was probably the most wonderful conversation regarding this with the president for Religious Affairs and his team. When the new Turkish ambassador to the Holy See came to deliver his letters of credence, I saw an exceptional man before me, a man of profound piousness. They said: Now it seems like interreligious dialogue has come to an end.” We need to raise the bar. We need to bring about a dialogue between religious figures of different faiths and this is a beautiful thing: men and women who meet other men and women and share experiences: it’s not theology we are talking about but experience.”

Prayer in the Mosque
“I went to Turkey as a pilgrim, not as a tourist. And I went especially for today’s feast celebrated by Patriarch Bartholomew . When I entered the mosque, I could not say: now I’m a tourist! I saw that marvellous place; the Mufti explained things very well to me, showing great meekness; he quoted the Quran when he spoke about Mary and John the Baptist. At that moment I felt the need to pray. So I asked him: Shall we pray a little? To which he responded: “Yes, yes”. I prayed for Turkey, for peace, for the Mufti, for everyone and for myself ... I said: Lord, let’s put an end to these wars! It was a moment of sincere prayer.”

On ecumenism
“Last month, the Metropolitan Hilarion attended the Synod as a delegate and he spoke to me not as a Synod delegate but as the President of the commission for Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. We spoke for a while. I believe we are moving forward in our relations with Orthodoxy, they have the sacraments and apostolic succession, we are moving forward. If we wait for theologians to reach an agreement, that day will never come! I am sceptical: theologians work well but Athenagoras said: “Let us put theologians on an island to discuss among themselves and we’ll just get on with things!” Unity is a journey we need to go on together, it is spiritual ecumenism, praying together, working together. Then there is ecumenism of the blood: when they kill Christians, bloods mix. Our martyrs are crying out: we are one. This is what ecumenism of the blood is. We must follow this path courageously and carry on moving forward. Perhaps some are not able to understand this. The Eastern catholic Churches have a right to exist, but uniatism is a dated word, another solution needs to be found.”

I want to meet the Patriarch of Moscow
“I told Patriarch Kiril, we can meet wherever you want, you call me and I’ll come. But he has a lot on his plate at the moment what with the war in Ukraine. Both of us want to meet and move forward. Hilarion suggested the commission hold a study meeting on the primacy issue. We have to continue along the footsteps of John Paul II: help me to find a solution to the primacy issue that is also acceptable to the Orthodox Churches.”

Original article on

2011 - © Christian Information Centre
Omar Ibn el Qattab Sq. P.O.B 14308 - 9114201 Jerusalem - ISRAEL - e-mail: Telefono +972-2-6272692