Muslims and Jews Taking Up Pope´s Invitation to Assisi

Leaders in Italy Hail Day of Prayer Planned for Jan. 24

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ROME, NOV. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Muslim and Jewish communities responded enthusiastically to John Paul II´s invitation to world religious leaders to attend a prayer meeting for peace in Assisi on Jan. 24.



Mario Scialoja, the World Muslim League´s representative in Italy, reacted to the papal invitation by saying it was "magnificent," the daily Il Corriere della Sera reported today.

"We have always appreciated the Pope´s openness toward Islam -- I mean toward authentic Islam, and not its deformations," Scialoja said. "Whatever serves to avoid confusion between politics and religion is welcome."

The Muslim leader especially appreciated the invitation to fast on Dec. 14, at the end of Ramadan.

"We are very happy that on that day, Christians will also be with us," he said. "It is a gesture that will allow many who do not know our religion well, to understand the purifying and penitential character that is part of this sacred month."

For his part, Amos Luzzatto, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, described the Bishop of Rome´s invitation as "sincere" and "fervent," the newspaper reported.

"It is an invitation to which one cannot respond negatively," he said.

"I agree with this type of symbolic gestures when necessary, such as now, given the ongoing war," Luzzatto added. "However, in order to uproot all spirit of opposition I believe it is fundamental to implement a broad educational endeavor, because certain prejudices of the Western world cannot be addressed in a few hours."