Message of His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio
(Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia)
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected the 265th Successor of St Peter the Apostle on 19 April 2005; he chose the name Benedict XVI. We have the joy to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of his Pontificate.
Cardinal Ratzinger, a renowned theologian and former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made valuable contributions to the Church and to human society. Today, as Pope Benedict XVI, these contributions have taken a new level and are touching even a greater majority of humanity. He not only limits his attention to the Catholic Church but has also shown keen interest in upholding human dignity, respect for life, dedication to the cause of the marginalised and the defenceless, without distinction of race or creed, promoting interreligious dialogue and the cause of justice and peace. Almost all his messages point to these values.
Every year on 1 January, the World Day of Peace, the Pope sends a message of peace to governments, religious leaders, and all people of goodwill. This message reflects the timely concerns of the Holy Father and offers suggestions concerning the way that governments and individuals might face the pressing issues of our day. The theme of the Pope’s Day of Peace Message 2008 is ‘The Human Family, a Community of Peace.’ In it the Pope has much to say on the importance of the nuclear family but also on “the human family as a community of peace.” Just as the human family must be a nucleus of mutual love and support for its members, so also the peoples of the earth are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves.
Under the paternal leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy See carries out its mission in the world as a faithful companion of mankind in the spirit of dialogue and friendship.
In October 2007, 138 Muslim scholars from over 40 countries, including Malaysia, sent an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, inviting their Christian counterparts to explore with them the foundational principles shared by the two religions. In their view, these elements come down to three: the commandment to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and strength; the command to love one’s neighbour; and the imperative on both parties to work together to build peace and harmony in the world.
This wonderful initiative was welcomed and hailed by Christian leaders. Pope Benedict XVI replied to the letter through Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, expressing “his gratitude to all who signed the letter” and his “deep appreciation for the positive spirit which inspired the text and the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world.” He followed up these words by inviting the Muslim signatories to send a delegation to meet with him in the Vatican and discuss further the points raised in the letter. Following this, a Delegation of the Signatories of the Open Letter met with a Delegation representing the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican City) on 4 and 5 March. In order to further develop Catholic-Muslim dialogue, the participants agreed to establish ‘The Catholic-Muslim Forum’ and to organise the first Seminar of the Forum on ‘Love of God, Love of Neighbour’, in Rome from 4-6 November. The Seminar participants will be received by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. We pray and hope that these endeavours will bear the desired fruits for the good of humankind.
On 16 April the Holy Father celebrated his 81st birthday. As we commemorate the third anniversary of his pontificate, we also wish him a happy and blessed birthday, praying that the Lord continue to guide him in his Petrine ministry.
His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio