|Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Photo by Dersaadet)|
When Pope Francis recently prayed “inside one of Istanbul’s most important mosques,” the Associated Press reported that he was “following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI who visited Turkey in 2006.”
However, Pope Francis was also following in the footsteps of his namesake, St. Francis. It was Saint Francis who long ago set the holy example of Catholic/Muslim peaceful relations.
According to Lawrence Cunningham of Notre Dame, St. Francis of Assisi “ventured into Muslim territory” during the 13th century “to visit the caliph of Egypt and preach the Gospel.”
Earlier in life, St. Francis had been a soldier. After renouncing that, he instead became a “spiritual crusader – a warrior without arms.” When St. Francis crossed enemy lines into Muslim turf, it was not as an envoy of war, but rather as brother of peace.
No one knows for sure exactly what was said during that historical meeting. We do know that the caliph “did receive him kindly.” We also know that St. Francis visited “in an attempt to engage the caliph face to face and possibly stop the killing and fighting.”
Centuries later, Pope Francis likely has these same holy intentions. Perhaps it’s time for the world to finally follow suit.
Copyright November 30, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved