Sat, 2018-05-26 02:13
RIYADH: Last month, Vatican officials led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran visited Saudi Arabia for the first time and the delegation met with King Salman and high-level Saudi officials in Riyadh.
The way for the meeting was paved by Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, the head of the Muslim World League (MWL), said Sultan Al-Mousa, a member of the Vatican interfaith committee.
“He has led the way to meet the pope since September 2017. He faced some challenges in these efforts, he organized the meeting and on the basis of this meeting, the interfaith committee of dialogue was created,” Al-Mousa said.
Al-Mousa said that two major world religions were working together to raise awareness campaigns for the oppressed around the world.
“Mutual visits from these two religion powerhouses will lead the way for others,” he said.
“The dialogues that have been held are not exclusive to us, on the contrary there are many mutual aspects such as renouncing terrorism from all religions. Awareness campaigns are now being held to help all the oppressed worldwide, whether the oppressed be in Rohingya, Myanmar or Tibet.”
Besides these efforts, the King Salman Humanitarian Relief Center has helped many countries that had been victims of extremism, terrorism and oppression, he said. Saudi Arabia had fought against extremism and terrorism, denouncing the violent acts that some have intertwined with the peaceful religion of Islam.
“I believe that in the same way that extremism and fanaticism are the result of extremist thoughts — tolerance, coexistence and rejection of extremism and terrorism are also influenced by tolerant mindsets. This is one of the goals for which the joint commission was created,” Al-Mousa said.
“This was the first time anyone from the Vatican visited Saudi Arabia. This visit proved the seriousness of this step and the measures that Saudi Arabia wants to take to combat extremism and promote tolerance, peace and dialogue.”
The delegation stayed for five days. One of the accompanying cardinals was Khalid Akasha, who has Jordanian roots and speaks Arabic.
In November, a Saudi delegation visited the Vatican, led by Al-Issa.
“As they welcomed us in their home, we welcomed them in ours. I believe that this is the first step to openness and coexistence between the two parties,” Al-Mousa said.
“The fact that King Salman welcomed the delegation proved that the king himself welcomed the initiative. This step further strengthened the initiative with blessings and support which was a motive for all of us.”
The objective of the dialogue was clear: “That each of the two parties maintain their religious identity yet coexist peacefully,” Al-Mousa said.