Tuesday, February 20, 2007

All roads leads to Rome

Shaikh al Azhar, Muhammed Sayyid Tantawi has accepted Pope Benedict XVI invitation to visit the Vatican. The date for the meeting is not yet set.

This mini-summit between one of the leading men within Sunni-Islam and the most important figure in Christianity(Sorry Pope Shenouda), will hopefully help ease up some of the tension between the religions, which in no small way was added to by the Catholic pontiff Benedict´s remarks at Regensburg University during a theological seminar during the Pope ´s vsit to his native Bavaria last autumn.

Let´s hope that this could be a step away from the negative religious politics of symbolics that 2006 was most remembered for, and away forward in showing the positive mutual message of religion. Let´s also hope that the somewhat politically accentuated tensions between sunni and shia-islam(in my view overstated and cynically used by certain political leaders), can be reversed in a sensible and responsible manner .

The late John Paul II visited Egypt in February 2000, and met with Tantawi at his office( i would not be surprised if the current pope was part of the Vatican visiting delegation in Egypt in 2000, if i´m not completly wrong, i think one of his responsibilities, while still Cardinal Ratzinger was interfaith dialogue). If so this will be the second meeting, both between the Catholic Pope and Shaikh al Azhar, and between Benedict and Tantawi.

President Hosni Mubarak visited theVatican and was one of the first political leaders to meet Pope Benedict in March 2000.


Blogger Sniff said...

Interesting, especially since, contrary to what was commonly projected, the pope's visit to Turkey did not include meetings with any religious leaders of any weight or importance.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Ibn ad Dunya said...

Well, was´nt he invited by the Greek Orthodox pontiff Bartholomew, especially to celebrate patron St Andrews or something, and then also by the state. Who was the cleric who escorted him in the blue mosque?

And in the end it seems Erdogan was able to squeeze him in in a very tight scheduele(NATO meeting).

And he got to visit the blue mosque and Hagga Sofia, without having to go through the ordeal of being lectured by Bashar al Assad on Christianity, something John Paul II had to endure, while visiting another lovely mosque i haven´t yet seen in real life... The Ummayad Mosque.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Sniff said...

I knew you say that, I realized after posting I should have qualified it to Muslim religious leader!

Because of course you are right, he was initially invited by the Greek patriarch and only later by the government.

The escort was Ali Bardakoglu, the Turkish State Minister for Religious Affairs, if I remember correctly.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Ibn ad Dunya said...

I was just playing the devil´s advocate! If it was the Minister for religious affairs, press reports vere wrong(they reported him as being escorted by a cleric , i figured it was just some low level cleric, like the head cleric of the blue mosque or something).

So in the end he actually got to meet the important politicians( i guess he meet the President as well). But only low level Muslim religious leaders, quite ironic, considering that one of the main reasons for his trip being posphoned for a year, was believed to be the turkish government´s disapprovement on his comments(while still Cardinal Ratzinger) concerning the posibility of Turkey obtaining the go ahead as a candidate country for admission into the EU.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Sniff said...

No, I don't think he did meet the president actually. Bardakoglu was his host from the Turkish government side. But Erdogan did see him, even if the way there was a bit rocky.

About the religious leaders, well Turkey really doesn't have any... or not Muslim at least. There are unofficial popular leader figures of an informal sort of course and then there are technocrats since the state controls the formal religious outlets.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Ibn ad Dunya said...

In what way is that different from Egypt if any. I reckon the technocrats have formal religoius education and are employed by the state for instance? Is there any other differences?

11:38 PM  
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