Bologna, 23 Jan. (AKI) – In an unprecedented initiative to improve tense relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Muslim community in Italy’s northern city of Bologna, Catholic priests are going to visit Muslims during Easter blessings of the home as a sign of detente. The initiative was promoted by the archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, after Islamists were enraged by statements of his deputy, auxiliary bishop and general vicar Ernesto Vecchi about an "Islamisation strategy" carried out by Muslims in mainly Catholic Italy through kebab restaurants, phone call centres and shops, Turin-daily La Stampa reported on Tuesday.
"Muslims call God with 99 names except the right one, father," Vecchi had also said.
The Bologna diocese will thus try to improve relations with the Islamic community with this new initiative.
"The visit of the priest also means to be an offer of good wishes," Caffarra, who was appointed archbishop of Bologna in 2003 and is slated as a potential successor of Camillo Ruini to head the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), was quoted as saying by La Stampa.
Perhaps this a prudential response, too bad it isn’t specifically for evangelization. After reading Bishop Vicci’s comment I did wonder about the 99 names for God that Muslims used and so I checked out this Wikipedia article that lists them all and the names are really attributes of God most of which Christians can certainly agree with. Interestingly the 100th name for God is suppose to be hidden – maybe that one is Father.