But one member of our group, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed concerns that Pope Benedict, in contrast to his predecessor, has not shown any sign of reaching out across faiths. I optimistically responded that "Maybe he will change in time," but then I heard something else that made my heart sink: Pope Benedict has said that Muslim Turkey has no place in Christian Europe.And, I guess, it does for the speaker as well! :-) Well, perhaps it might behoove him to learn a little more, from the proper sources about what exactly the Pope said, and what that actually means. Admission of Turkey to the EU, [and, well, wasn't Constantinople it's original name, for nigh a millenium? :-)] and the church's essential mission of evangelization are such disparate areas of discourse ...
As I numbly noted that I have never heard a Vatican official say "Istanbul" — it is always "Constantinople" — my companion brought up another controversial rumor: Pope Benedict has said he wants the church to think about Christianizing India, my native country.
If these statements are true, my peace-building between religions is going to be rough. As a Muslim interfaith leader, I need to find out what the Vatican really wants and how we can resolve these thorny issues with love, compassion and forgiveness. I hope this pope and his cardinals will follow Jesus' famous saying, "Do not judge others, lest you be judged." This motto holds more wisdom now then ever before.
However, it is also a reminder of just how scary the word "evangelization" sounds to those outside. At least it seems to, in India, rightly or wrongly.