Vatican Council and Papal Statements on Islam
"Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception
of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our
admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God."
Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam 107, August 6, 1964
"But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge
the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these
profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they
adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."
Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964
"The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They
worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III,
21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148. 451A.), who
has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve
to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself
to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although
not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet,
his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke.
Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following
the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem
an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds
"Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen
between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with
all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made
to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let
them together preserve and promote peace, social justice and moral
Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate 3, October 28, 1965
After quoting Nostra Aetate 3, as given above, the Pope says:
"My brothers, when I think of this spiritual heritage (Islam)
and the value it has for man and for society, its capacity of offering,
particularly in the young, guidance for life, filling the gap left
by materialism, and giving a reliable foundation to social and juridical
organization, I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when
Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to
recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order
to preserve and promote together for the benefit of all men, ‘peace,
liberty, social justice and moral values' as the Council calls upon
us to do (Nostra Aetate 3)."
John Paul II, address to the Catholic community of Ankara,
Turkey, November 29, 1979
"Christians and Muslims have many things in common, as believers
and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs
of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham
is a model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence
in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living
God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their
"God asks that we should listen to His voice. He expects from
us obedience to His holy will in a free consent of mind and heart.
"It is therefore toward this God that my thought goes and
that my heart rises. It is of God himself that, above all, I wish
to speak with you; of him, because it is in him that we believe,
you Muslims and we Catholics. I wish also to speak with you about
human values, which have their basis in God, these values which
concern the blossoming of our person, as also that of our families
and our societies, as well as that of the international community.
The mystery of God–is it not the highest reality from which
depends the very meaning which man gives to his life? And is it
not the first problem that presents itself to a young person, when
he reflects upon the mystery of his own existence and on the values
which he intends to choose in order to build his growing personality?
. . .
"First of all, I invoke the Most High, the all-powerful God
who is our Creator. He is the origin of all life, as he is at the
source of all that is good, of all that is beautiful, of all that
is holy. . . .
"He made us, us men, and we are from him. His holy law guides
our life. It is the light of God which orients our destiny and enlightens
our conscience. . . .
"Yes, God asks that we should listen to his voice. He expects
from us obedience to his holy will in a free consent of mind and
"That is why we are accountable before him. It is He, God,
who is our judge; He who alone is truly just. We know, however,
that his mercy is inseparable from His justice. When man returns
to Him, repentant and contrite, after having strayed into the disorder
of sin and the works of death, God then reveals Himself as the one
who pardons and shows mercy.
"To Him, therefore, our love and our adoration! For His blessing
and His mercy, we thank Him, at all times and in all places. . .
"Man is a spiritual being. We believers know that we do not
live in a closed world. We believe in God. We are worshipers of
God. We are seekers of God.
"The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the
equality of your religious progress, the richness of your spiritual
tradition. . . .
"I believe that we, Christians and Muslims, must recognize
with joy the religious values that we have in common, and give thanks
to God for them. Both of us believe in one God, the only God, who
is all justice and all mercy; we believe in the importance of prayer,
of fasting, of almsgiving, of repentance and of pardon; we believe
that God will be a merciful judge to us all at the end of time,
and we hope that after the resurrection He will be satisfied with
us and we know that we will be satisfied with him.
"Loyalty demands also that we should recognize and respect
our differences. Obviously the most fundamental is the view that
we hold onto the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You know
that, for Christians, Jesus cause them to enter into an intimate
knowledge of the mystery of God and into the filial communion by
His gifts, so that they recognize Him and proclaim Him Lord and
"Those are the important differences which we can accept with
humility and respect, in mutual tolerance; this is a mystery about
which, I am certain, God will one day enlighten us.
"Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood
each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and often
exhausted each other in polemics and in wars.
"I believe that today, God invites us to change our old practices.
We must respect each other, and we must stimulate each other in
good works on the path of God.
"With me, you know the reward of spiritual values. Ideologies
and slogans cannot satisfy you nor can they solve the problems of
your life. Only spiritual and moral values can do it, and they have
God at their foundation.
"Dear young people, I wish that you may be able to help in
building a world where God may have first place in order to aid
and to save mankind. On this path, you are assured, of the esteem
and the collaboration of your Catholic brothers and sisters whom
I represent among you this evening."
John Paul II , address to the young Muslims of Morocco,
August 19, 1985
"You must try to show your Muslim brethren and the followers
of other religious traditions that your Christian faith, far from
weakening your sense of pride in your homeland and your love for
her, helps you to prize and respect the culture and heritage of
Bangladesh. It inspires you to face the challenges of the present
day with love and responsibility. . . .
"The Catholic Church is committed to a path of dialogue and
collaboration with the men and women of goodwill of every religious
tradition. We have many spiritual resources in common which we must
share with one another as we work for a more human world. Young
people especially know how to be open with each other and they want
a world in which all the basic freedoms, including the freedom of
religious belief, will be respected.
"Sometimes Christians and Muslims fear and distrust one another
as a result of past misunderstanding and conflict. This is also
true in Bangladesh. Everyone, especially the young, must learn to
always respect one another's religious beliefs and to defend freedom
of religion, which is the right of every human being."
John Paul II, To Christians (and others) in Bangladesh,
November 19, 1986
"The topic of your discussion is a timely one. Since we are
believers in God - who is goodness and perfection - all our activities
must reflect the holy and upright nature of the one whom we worship
and seek to obey. For this reason, also in the works of mission
and da'wah [summons], our action must be founded upon a respect
for the inalienable dignity and freedom of the human person created
and loved by God. Both Christians and Muslims are called to defend
the inviolable right of each individual to freedom of religious
belief and practice. There have been in the past, and there continue
to be in the present, unfortunate instances of misunderstanding,
intolerance and conflict between Christians and Muslims, especially
in circumstances where either Muslims or Christians are a minority
or are guest workers in a given country. It is our challenge as
religious leaders to find ways to overcome such difficulties in
a spirit of justice, brotherhood and mutual respect. Hence, by considering
the proper means of carrying out mission and da'wah you are dealing
with an issue which is important both for religious and for social
"You have also been addressing the difficulties faced today
by those who believe in God in their efforts to proclaim his presence
and his will for mankind. As believers, we do not deny or reject
any of the real benefits which modern developments have brought,
but we are convinced nevertheless that without reference to God
modern society is unable to lead men and women to the goal for which
they have been created. It is here too that Christians and Muslims
can work together, bearing witness before modern civilization to
the divine presence and loving Providence which guide our steps.
Together we can proclaim that he who has made us has called us to
live in harmony and justice. May the blessing of the Most High accompany
you in your endeavors on behalf of dialogue and peace."
John Paul II, To the delegation of the World Islamic Call
Society, Rome, 15 January 1990
"To all Muslims throughout the world, I wish to express the
readiness of the Catholic Church to work together with you and all
the people of good will to aid the victims of the war and to build
structures of a lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but everywhere.
This cooperation in solidarity towards the most afflicted can form
the concrete basis for a sincere, profound and constant dialogue
between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which there
can arise a strengthened mutual knowledge and trust, and the assurance
that each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically
his or her own faith.
"Injustice, oppression, aggression, greed, failure to forgive,
desire for revenge, and unwillingness to enter into dialogue and
negotiate: these are merely some of the factors which lead people
to depart from the way in which God desires us to live on this planet.
We must all learn to recognize these elements in our own lives and
societies, and find ways to overcome them. Only when individuals
and groups undertake this education for peace can we build a fraternal
and united world, freed from war and violence.
"I close my greeting to you with the words of one of my predecessors,
Pope Gregory VII who in 1076 wrote to Al-Nasir, the Muslim Ruler
of Bijaya, present day Algeria: ‘Almighty God, who wishes
that all should be saved and none lost, approves nothing in so much
as that after loving Him one should love his fellow man, and that
one should not do to others, what one does not want done to oneself.
You and we owe this charity to ourselves especially because we believe
in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way, and daily
praise and venerate him, the creator of the world and ruler of this
"These words, written almost a thousand years ago, express
my feelings to you today as you celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr, the
Feast of the Breaking of the Fast. May the Most High God fill us
with all His merciful love and peace."
John Paul II, Message to the faithful of Islam at the end
of the month of Ramadan, April 3, 1991
"It is natural that believers in God should meet in friendship
and sharing. Christians and Muslims, together with the followers
of the Jewish religion, belong to what can be called ‘the
tradition of Abraham.' In our respective traditions Abraham is called
‘the intimate friend of God' (in Arabic, Al-Khalil). He receives
this title because of his flawless faith in God. . . .
"As two religious communities who strive to submit ourselves
without reserve to the will of God, we Christians and Muslims should
live together in peace, friendship and cooperation. I am happy to
note that, since the arrival of the first Christians in this land,
the people of Senegal have given the world a good example of this
"In May 1991, in a joint message to their fellow Christians,
the Catholic bishops of Senegal called attention to the ‘real
efforts at understanding and dialogue between Christians and Muslims,
the meeting between religious leaders' which have been undertaken
in your country. They noted that the young people have worked together
to build cemeteries, mosques and churches; that school children
engage in healthy emulation to make their schools places of peace,
forgiveness and fraternity; that adults work together to improve
the life of the community spirit of the country. I would like to
support and encourage all these efforts at building a harmonious
society because I am convinced that this is the way of God. Our
Creator and our final judge desires that we live together. Our God
is a God of peace, who desires peace among those who live according
to His commandments. Our God is the holy God who desires that those
who call upon Him live in ways that are holy and upright. He is
a God of dialogue who has been engaged from the very beginning of
history in a dialogue of salvation with the humanity which He created.
This dialogue continues in the present day, and will go on until
the end of time.
"We Christians and Muslims must be people of dialogue. As
I have often said, and as the bishops of Senegal have repeated,
this commitment to dialogue means, first of all, ‘a dialogue
of life', a positive acceptance, interaction and cooperation by
which we bear active witness, as believers, to the ideals to which
God has called us."
John Paul II, To Islamic leaders of Senegal, Dakar, February
". . . I have an especially warm recollection of my meeting
with Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi. We both expressed the
wish for a new era of religious and cultural dialogue between Islam
and Christianity. It is in this context, Mr. Ambassador, that I
am particularly pleased that you have spoken of Egypt as a land
where unity and harmony are greatly valued and where differences
of religion are seen not as barriers but as a means of mutual enrichment
in rendering service to the nation. I trust most sincerely that
this will always be the case, and that the difficulties that have
arisen from time to time will be overcome, especially in view of
the widespread willingness and positive conditions for interreligious
dialogue and cooperation which can be found in Egypt.
"In a world deeply marked by violence, it is bitterly ironic
that even now some of the worst conflicts are between believers
who worship the one God, who look to Abraham as a holy patriarch
and who seek to follow the Law of Sinai. Each act of violence makes
it more urgent for Muslims and Christians everywhere to recognize
the things we have in common, to bear witness that we are all creatures
of the one merciful God, and to agree once and for all that recourse
to violence in the name of religion is completely unacceptable.
Especially when religious identity coincides with cultural and ethnic
identity it is a solemn duty of believers to ensure that religious
sentiment is not used as an excuse for hatred and conflict. Religion
is the enemy of exclusion and discrimination; it seeks the good
of everyone and therefore ought to be a stimulus for solidarity
and harmony between individuals and among peoples. . . ."
John Paul II, to the ambassador of the Arab Republic of
Egypt, September 7, 2000
"It is in this context (of openness to God's grace) also
that we should consider the great challenge of interreligious dialogue
to which we shall still be committed in the new millennium, in fidelity
to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Cf. Second Vatican
Council, declaration Nostra Aetate). . . . This dialogue must continue.
In the climate of increased cultural and religious pluralism which
is expected to mark the society of the new millennium, it is obvious
that this dialogue will be especially important in establishing
a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread specter of those
wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history. The
name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name
of peace and a summons to peace."
John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte 55, January 6, 2001
"I am thinking too of the great cultural influence of Syrian
Islam, which under the Umayyad caliphs reached the farthest shores
of the Mediterranean. Today, in a world that is increasingly complex
and interdependent, there is a need for a new spirit of dialogue
and cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Together we acknowledge
the one indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. Together
we must proclaim to the world that the name of the one God is ‘a
name of peace and a summons to peace' (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 55)!"
John Paul II, on his arrival in Syria, May 5, 2001
"I give heartfelt praise to almighty God for the grace of
this meeting. I am most grateful for your warm welcome in the tradition
of hospitality so cherished by the people of this region. I thank
especially the minister of the Waqf and the grand mufti for their
gracious greetings, which put into words the great yearning for
peace which fills the hearts of all people of good will. My jubilee
pilgrimage has been marked by important meetings with Muslim leaders
in Cairo and Jerusalem, and now I am deeply moved to be your guest
here in the great Umayyad mosque, so rich in religious history.
Your land is dear to Christians: Here our religion has known vital
moments of its growth and doctrinal development, and here are found
Christian communities which have lived in peace and harmony with
their Muslim neighbors for many centuries.
"We are meeting close to what both Christians and Muslims
regard as the tomb of John the Baptist, known as Yahya in the Muslim
tradition. The son of Zechariah is a figure of prime importance
in the history of Christianity, for he was the precursor who prepared
the way for Christ. John's life, wholly dedicated to God, was crowned
by martyrdom. May his witness enlighten all who venerate his memory
here, so that they - and we too - may understand that life's great
task is to seek God's truth and justice.
"The fact that we are meeting in this renowned place of prayer
reminds us that man is a spiritual being, called to acknowledge
and respect the absolute priority of God in all things. Christians
and Muslims agree that the encounter with God in prayer is the necessary
nourishment of our souls, without which our hearts wither and our
will no longer strives for good but succumbs to evil.
"Both Muslims and Christians prize their places of prayer
as oases where they meet the all-merciful God on the journey to
eternal life and where they meet their brothers and sisters in the
bond of religion. When, on the occasion of weddings or funerals
or other celebrations, Christians and Muslims remain in silent respect
at the other's prayer, they bear witness to what unites them without
disguising or denying the things that separate.
"It is in mosques and churches that the Muslim and Christian
communities shape their religious identity, and it is there that
the young receive a significant part of their religious education.
What sense of identity is instilled in young Christians and young
Muslims in our churches and mosques? It is my ardent hope that Muslim
and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two
great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue,
never more as communities in conflict. It is crucial for the young
to be taught the ways of respect and understanding, so that they
will not be led to misuse religion itself to promote or justify
hatred and violence. Violence destroys the image of the Creator
in his creatures and should never be considered as the fruit of
"I truly hope that our meeting today in the Umayyad mosque
will signal our determination to advance interreligious dialogue
between the Catholic Church and Islam. This dialogue has gained
momentum in recent decades; and today we can be grateful for the
road we have traveled together so far. At the highest level, the
Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue represents the Catholic
Church in this task. For more than 30 years the council has sent
a message to Muslims on the occasion of ‘Id al-Fitr at the
close of Ramadan, and I am very happy that this gesture has been
welcomed by many Muslims as a sign of growing friendship between
us. In recent years the council has established a liaison committee
with international Islamic organizations and also with al-Athar
in Egypt, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year.
"It is important that Muslims and Christians continue to explore
philosophical and theological questions together in order to come
to a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each others'
religious beliefs. Better mutual understanding will surely lead
at the practical level to a new way of presenting our two religions
not in opposition, as has happened too often in the past, but in
partnership for the good of the human family.
"Interreligious dialogue is most effective when it springs
from the experience of ‘living with each other' from day to
day within the same community and culture. In Syria, Christians
and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, and rich dialogue
of life has gone on unceasingly. Every individual and every family
knows moments of harmony and other moments when dialogue has broken
down. The positive experiences must strengthen our communities in
the hope of peace; and the negative experiences should not be allowed
to undermine that hope. For all the times that Muslims and Christians
have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the
Almighty and offer each other forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that
we must pardon others' offenses if God is to pardon us our sins
(cf. Mt. 6:14).
"As members of the one human family and as believers, we have
obligations to the common good, to justice and to solidarity. Interreligious
dialogue will lead to many forms of cooperation, especially in responding
to the duty to care for the poor and weak. These are the signs that
our worship of God is genuine.
"As we make our way through life toward our heavenly destiny,
Christians feel the company of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Islam
too pays tribute to Mary and hails her as ‘chosen above the
women of the world' (Quran, III:42). The virgin of Nazareth, the
Lady of Saydnâya, has taught us that God protects the humble
and "scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts"
(Lk. 1:51). May the hearts of Christians and Muslims turn to one
another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the
Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give.To
the one, merciful God be praise and glory forever. Amen.
John Paul II, address on his Visit to the Umayyad Great
Mosque, May 6, 2001
"We know that prayer acquires power if it is joined with
fasting and almsgiving. The Old Testament taught this, and from
the earliest centuries Christians have accepted and applied this
lesson, especially at the times of Advent and Lent. For their part,
the Muslim faithful have just begun Ramadan, a month dedicated to
fasting and prayer. Soon, we Christians will begin Advent, to prepare
ourselves in prayer, for the celebration of Christmas, the day of
the birth of "the Prince of Peace.'
"At this appropriate time, I ask Catholics to make next 14
December [the last Friday of Ramadan and the third Friday of Advent]
a day of fasting, to pray fervently to God to grant to the world
stable peace based on justice, and make it possible to find adequate
solutions to the many conflicts that trouble the world. May what
is saved by fasting be put at the disposal of the poor, especially
those who at present suffer the consequences of terrorism and war.
"I would also like to announce that it is my intention to
invite the representatives of the world religions to come to Assisi
on 24 January 2002, to pray for the overcoming of opposition and
the promotion of authentic peace. In particular, we wish to bring
Christians and Muslims together to proclaim to the world that religion
must never be a reason for conflict, hatred and violence. In this
historic moment, humanity needs to see gestures of peace and to
hear words of hope.
"As I said 15 years ago, when announcing the meeting of prayer
for peace, which was held in Assisi the following October: ‘It
is urgent that a common invocation rise to heaven from earth, to
beg from Almighty God, in whose hands is the destiny of the world,
the great gift of peace, the necessary condition for every serious
endeavor at the service of humanity's real progress'."
John Paul II, address before the Angelus, November 18,
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