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Sheikh Mustafa Ceric on the Resignation of H.H. Pope Benedict XVI

On behalf on the A Common Word Initiative and of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought

The news today about H.H. Pope Benedict XVI's resignation at the end of this month (February 2013) after nearly eight years as the successor of St. Peter and head of the Catholic Church was highly noticed by all the Muslims who had dialogue with him. First as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and then Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013 after John Paul II's death, he will be remembered as a foremost Catholic theologian and a sincere pastor for the Catholic faithful.

Although initially hurt by his remarks about Islam on September 12, 2006, while lecturing on "Faith, Reason and the University" at the University of Regensburg, Germany, Muslim Scholars appreciated his apology afterwards and his subsequent friendly visits to Islamic countries and mosques, particularly the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. They also appreciated his willingness to engage with the historic ‘A Common Word’ initiative of 138 Muslim scholars of October 13th, 2007, and his establishing (together with them) the Catholic–Muslim Forum for dialogue between Catholics and Muslims. The first summit of the Catholic–Muslim Forum took place on 4–6 November 2008 in Vatican, and the second was held in the city of the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ in Jordan between 21-23 November, 2011 under the auspices of The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought—both with another fifty senior scholars and delegates. The Pope's graceful resignation as a last act to serve as a good example was also duly noted.

We hope that the spirit of friendly Muslim-Catholic dialogue will continue with H.H. Pope Benedict XVI's successor and that Muslim and Catholic communities all around the world will live in harmony, especially as the whole world currently celebrates the U.N. official World Interfaith Harmony Week, which was initiated in October 2010 as a fruit of the A Common Word initiative.

On behalf on the A Common Word Initiative and of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought,
Dr. Mustafa Ceric,
Former Grand Mufti of Bosnia


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