15 Sep 2010
In a statement ahead of tomorrow’s visit, Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“I would like to extend my warmest welcome to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on this historic visit, the first ever official state visit to the UK by a serving Pontiff.
Christianity is one of the world’s great religions. With over two billion followers across the globe, it has served as a great actor for social change and innovation and a faith which above all calls for humanity, decency and compassion for one another.
Today, people of faith face unprecedented challenges. At a time when people are sceptical and suspicious of religion, lacking basic understanding and unable to appreciate the positive moral agency that faith has to offer, we all struggle to convey the basic values we share. But as we continue to enter into an ever-increasing period of globalisation, such challenges also offer us hope and opportunity. With new explorations in science and technology, our faith can continue to act as a constant anchor to our basic ideals and principles of humanity, justice and compassion.
I would also like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude for the clarification His Holiness offered following the Regensburg lecture of 13 September 2006 which at the time caused enormous distress to Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was the best of examples to mankind, a man who exemplified the need to respect and love one another with benevolence and humility. In recent years in particular, His Holiness has made significant strides to reach out to the Muslim world with visits to the new King Hussein bin Talal Mosque, the largest in Jordan in May 2009 and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque while visiting Turkey in 2006. On this momentous occasion let us continue that effort and work together to unite as people of faith.
While often intense scrutiny and spotlight is cast of our differences, little is paid by way of what unites us. The common issues between us extend from our shared desires to lead better lives for our children, our communities and our country to our moral values as people of faith, the importance of the family and the sanctity of life. These are issues of everyday life which we share in common that we must continue to celebrate.
Once again I would like to send my warmest wishes to His Holiness on this historic visit to the United Kingdom. I hope that it serves as an opportunity to turn the page and work together for a better, more just and cohesive world’.[END]
Notes to Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.[ENDS]