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Pope in Abu Dhabi: Card. Coutts (Karachi), “a step forward, for it came from the Muslim world”

(from Karachi) The meeting in Abu Dhabi and the signing of the Joint Declaration by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb is “a step forward on the path of dialogue. A significant step forward for it came from the Muslim world. A restarting point”. Just a few days after Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates, where the Pontiff participated in the meeting on human fraternity promoted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Pakistani Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, who also attended the meeting in the UAE, reflected on the significance of the event in an interview with SIR news agency. The interview took place in Pakistan’s most populous city during a visit by a delegation from Aid to the Church in Need, headed by its director, Alessandro Monteduro. The Cardinal reiterated that this is the direction to follow: “To find points of contact between the faiths, shared values on which to dialogue for the good of man. We will see – the cardinal remarked – what the Islamic world’s reaction to this document will be. Indeed, we know that there is not a single authority for Islam, as is the Pope for Catholics. There are moderate Muslims committed to dialogue, like the Sufis, and others, more radicals, who do not take into consideration believers of other faiths. The title of the meeting was about fraternity, not just tolerance, a value on which to build lasting relationships and equality”. Card. Coutts also cited an experience of dialogue in which he is personally engaged with an imam, aimed at countering drugs and corruption among young people. “For nearly 10 years, an imam in Karachi and I have been fighting a jihad against corruption and drugs to save the youth. We are active in five major colleges of the city. We carry out awareness campaigns, informing on the disasters provoked by drugs and corruption in the country. Drugs and corruption are the real enemies, not the believers of other faiths”. As for Asia Bibi’s acquittal, recently confirmed by the Pakistan Supreme Court which rejected the appeal lodged by Islamic extremists against the Christian woman accused of blasphemy, the cardinal said that “the Court’s decision delivered after the third instance trial is very important”. As for the possibility of a visit by Pope Francis to Pakistan, the Archbishop of Karachi recalled that “the Pontiff was invited to the country by the Pakistani authorities two years ago. We do hope that he will visit soon”.

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