Christians called to convert Muslims not Jews: Cardinal

Christians have a mission to convert all Muslims, according to one of Pope Francis’s senior aides.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, who leads ecumenical relations for the Vatican, made the comments at an interfaith meeting in the United Kingdom, the Catholic Herald reported.

Cardinal Koch also said that Christians should not try and convert Jews and should view Judaism as a “mother”.

“We have a mission to convert all non-Christian religions’ people [except] Judaism,” he said.

He reportedly added that this extended to jihadis responsible for persecuting Christians in the Middle East.

The cardinal said Christianity and Judaism shared a special relationship.

“It is very clear that we can speak about three Abrahamic religions, but we cannot deny that the view of Abraham in Jewish and the Christian tradition and the Islamic tradition is not the same,” he said.

“In this sense we have only with Jewish people this unique relationship that we do not have with Islam.”

On Monday, Pope Francis held a 25-minute meeting with Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar University in Cairo.

This was the first meeting between a Pontiff and the grand imam since the university suspended formal dialogue in 2011.

The university took exception to what it called Pope Benedict XVI’s focus on Christian suffering in the Middle East when many Muslims were suffering too.

This was on top of Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg speech which many saw as linking Islam with violence.

On Monday, Pope Francis sat to the side of his desk facing the grand imam rather than behind his desk as he customarily does when meeting with a visiting head of state.

Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the conversation between the two included a discussion about “the great significance of this new encounter within the scope of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam”.


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