Francis’ Cardinals Share in His Support of Islam

News: World News
by Anita Carey  •  •  October 9, 2019   

Cdl. Matteo Zuppi: 'I really think it's time for a mosque in Bologna'

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VATICAN CITY ( - Several newly installed cardinals share the Pope's vision for dialogue with Islam.

Much has been said about Pope Francis' number of appointments to the College of Cardinals — 88 of them — that all but ensures his successor will be of a similar mind. Over half of cardinals eligible to vote were appointed by Francis.

In addition to the push towards liberation theology, Francis also has been putting other religions, including Islam, on an equal footing with Catholicism. In an article on Tuesday, Jihad Watch commented, "The Pope has been a powerful promoter of Islam."

Francis' own words to the faithful in February following his trip to the United Arab Emirates show this.

"Christianity and Islam have more in common than people think … and the two religions defend common values that are necessary for the future of civilization," Francis said.

He largely ignores the gross human rights violations justified by Islam.

Jihad Watch took the Pope to task for his ignorance about the religion, saying, "He largely ignores the gross human rights violations against Christians, women, minorities and apostates that are justified by Islam."

The joint resolution signed with the UAE during that trip in February stated they "resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood."

It added, "These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings."

Spanish then-Abp. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, praised the joint resolution signed with the UAE, saying: "I think the Abu Dhabi declaration is a global appeal to the 'civilization of love' that contrasts with those who want a clash of civilizations! Prayer, dialogue, respect and solidarity are the only winning weapons against terrorism, fundamentalism and all kinds of war and violence."

On Oct. 5, Guixot was among the 13 new cardinals Pope Francis appointed to help him secure the direction he is steering the Church.

Cdl. Michael Czerny, right
(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

Also appointed by Pope Francis was Canadian Jesuit priest Fr. Michael Czerny, a contributor to Francis' environmental encyclical Laudato Sí.

In 1979, Czerny founded the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice, a social justice research center, in Toronto.

He has worked in the Vatican since 2010, first in the justice office, then, in 2016, Francis appointed Czerny the undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Cardinal Czerny is also serving secretarial roles for the Amazon Synod.

Pope Francis consecrated Czerny as the titular archbishop of Benevento, Italy, on Oct. 4.

A second newly appointed cardinal is Cdl. Matteo Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna, Italy. In addition to being supportive of the homosexual agenda — actually writing the preface for the Italian edition of Fr. James Martin's Building a Bridge — in 2016, he called for a mosque to be built in Bologna.

"I really think it's time for a mosque in Bologna. Some people think otherwise but they are wrong," Zuppi said.

"I also wish Islamic celebrations to be welcomed in schools," he added, "as already requested by archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola."

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the archbishop of Luxembourg, is supportive of open-door migration policies.

Although he is not of voting age, a retired English archbishop, Michael Fitzgerald, is considered one of the Church's leading experts on Islam and the Koran.

From 1972 to 1978 Fitzgerald directed the Pontifical Institute for Arab Studies and Islamology and, in 1987, he accepted a position at the Secretariat for non-Christians. In an interview with La Croix International, he said he will support those working in Islamic-Christian dialogue.

The report noted he and three other priests from the White Fathers, a religious order he joined at age 12, "took over an almost abandoned parish in Liverpool" that serves the double purpose of being in "the service of migrants and dialogue with Muslims."

"In Al-Azhar, Abu Dhabi or Jerusalem, Pope Francis shows us how to do it: through direct contact and without being locked in prescriptions or barriers," he said.

Two other cardinals are from majority-Muslim countries: Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero hails from Morocco, and Cdl. Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo is the archbishop of Jakarta in Indonesia.

Cardinal Hardjoatmodjo, a member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also called out his country's Catholics in January to take a stand against plastic, warning, "Our country is becoming the world's second-largest producer of plastic waste."

Since 2016, Cdl. Hardjoatmodjo has been with a social justice commission he founded to help undocumented people in Jakarta access government services.

"The commission is important, especially in a big city such as Jakarta where there is so much injustice," he said.

He was praised by both Protestant and Muslim leaders who said, "He is a passionate shepherd, not only for Catholics but also other people of different religions."

The College of Cardinals currently has 128 voting members. Four are set to reach the mandatory retirement age within the month, bringing the number to 124, and Francis has appointed 52% of those voting cardinals.

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