On 12 May 2009, following a visit to the Dome of the Rock on the
Temple Mount, the Holy Father made a courtesy visit to the Grand Mufti
of the Moslems of Jerusalem.
Dear Muslim Friends,
As-salámu ‘aláikum! Peace upon you!
I cordially thank the Grand Mufti, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, together
with the Director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, Sheikh Mohammed Azzam
al-Khatib al-Tamimi, and the Head of the Awquaf Council, Sheikh Abdel
Azim Salhab, for the welcome they have extended to me on your behalf. I
am deeply grateful for the invitation to visit this sacred place, and I
willingly pay my respects to you and the leaders of the Islamic
community in Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock draws our hearts and minds to reflect upon the
mystery of creation and the faith of Abraham. Here the paths of the
world’s three great monotheistic religions meet, reminding us what they
share in common. Each believes in One God, creator and ruler of all.
Each recognizes Abraham as a forefather, a man of faith upon whom God
bestowed a special blessing. Each has gained a large following
throughout the centuries and inspired a rich spiritual, intellectual and
In a world sadly torn by divisions, this sacred place serves as a
stimulus, and also challenges men and women of goodwill to work to
overcome misunderstandings and conflicts of the past and to set out on
the path of a sincere dialogue aimed at building a world of justice and
peace for coming generations.
Since the teachings of religious traditions ultimately concern the
reality of God, the meaning of life, and the common destiny of mankind –
that is to say, all that is most sacred and dear to us – there may be a
temptation to engage in such dialogue with reluctance or ambivalence
about its possibilities for success. Yet we can begin with the belief
that the One God is the infinite source of justice and mercy, since in
him the two exist in perfect unity. Those who confess his name are
entrusted with the task of striving tirelessly for righteousness while
imitating his forgiveness, for both are intrinsically oriented to the
peaceful and harmonious coexistence of the human family.
For this reason, it is paramount that those who adore the One God
should show themselves to be both grounded in and directed towards the
unity of the entire human family. In other words, fidelity to the One
God, the Creator, the Most High, leads to the recognition that human
beings are fundamentally interrelated, since all owe their very
existence to a single source and are pointed towards a common goal.
Imprinted with the indelible image of the divine, they are called to
play an active role in mending divisions and promoting human solidarity.
This places a grave responsibility upon us. Those who honor the One
God believe that he will hold human beings accountable for their
actions. Christians assert that the divine gifts of reason and freedom
stand at the basis of this accountability. Reason opens the mind to
grasp the shared nature and common destiny of the human family, while
freedom moves the heart to accept the other and serve him in charity.
Undivided love for the One God and charity towards ones neighbor thus
become the fulcrum around which all else turns. This is why we work
untiringly to safeguard human hearts from hatred, anger or vengeance.
Dear friends, I have come to Jerusalem on a journey of faith. I thank
God for this occasion to meet you as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of
the Apostle Peter, but also as a child of Abraham, by whom "all the
families of the earth find blessing" (Gen 12:3; cf. Rom 4:16-17). I
assure you of the Church’s ardent desire to cooperate for the well-being
of the human family. She firmly believes that the fulfillment of the
promise made to Abraham is universal in scope, embracing all men and
women regardless of provenance or social status. As Muslims and
Christians further the respectful dialogue they have already begun, I
pray that they will explore how the Oneness of God is inextricably tied
to the unity of the human family. In submitting to his loving plan for
creation, in studying the law inscribed in the cosmos and implanted in
the human heart, in reflecting upon the mysterious gift of God’s
self-revelation, may all his followers continue to keep their gaze fixed
on his absolute goodness, never losing sight of the way it is reflected
in the faces of others.
With these thoughts, I humbly ask the Almighty to grant you peace and
to bless all the beloved people of this region. May we strive to live in
a spirit of harmony and cooperation, bearing witness to the One God by
generously serving one another. Thank you!
[Original text: English]