Outreach

Pope John Paul II Always Kept the Door Open for Muslims

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II

Writing in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994), Pope John Paul II calls Islam one of the great monotheistic religions and requests that Christians respect the beliefs of Muslims based on the following passage in the Declaration of Nostra Aetate:

“The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth” (Nostra Aetate 3).

Pope John Paul II added that “As a result of their monotheism, believers in Allah are particularly close to us.”

While the Pope clearly demarcated the boundary between Christianity and Islam in Crossing the Threshold, he nonetheless offers ways in which Christians and Muslims can learn from one another. Pope John Paul II said that “the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect” and that it is impossible “not to admire… their fidelity to prayer.” He even criticized his fellow Christians in comparing them to the pious Muslims, who “fall to their knees and immerse themselves in prayer” which “remains a model for all those who invoke the true God, in particular for those Christians who, having deserted their magnificent cathedrals, pray only a little or not at all.”

Pope John Paul II ends his section on Islam by stating that despite the rise of radical Islam around the world, “the Church remains always open to dialogue and cooperation.” The Pope’s unequivocal position on remaining open to interfaith dialogue is an important message for Christians and Muslims to carry in the future. No matter how grim or cold relations might be, Christians and Muslims have a responsibility as descendants of Prophet Abraham to always be willing to discuss their faith and beliefs in a calm and collected manner, no matter how controversial or sensitive the topic of discussion might be.

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