By Imam Yahya Hendi
My catholic sisters and brothers,
Let me take this moment to congratulate you and the world, including that of Islam for Pope Francis I. It is a great moment in our history and I am sure the future is full of hope.
Watching him talking and praying as he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, I was deeply touched by his self-effacing humility that our religions value highly. I was also profoundly moved by his great simplicity, amazing smile, telling a joke, and asking people to pray for him, all of which, spoke of his sense of hope, peacefulness and of deep-rooted faith in the Living God.
His remarkable choice of the name Francis, evoking the saint of Assisi and his commitment to the poor, is just an incredible message of hope for the faithful and those who believe that our religions main fight is that of social justice and to give a voice for the voiceless.
His selection as the Pope emerging from a Jesuit background is with no doubt, at least in my mind, an affirmation of the Church’s transformation and its commitment to catering for the soul and the mind of the whole person with interest in interfaith dialogue and peace building with other religions and nations. I pray for more dialogue between Muslims and Catholics, a dialogue that will help build more bridges and better relations.
Let me be honest and say that I love him more for the fact that he is known for his love of animals, including birds, and for asking people to pray for him.
May God bless those led by the Holy father, Georgetown University and the world at large.
My best prayers.
Imam Yahya Hendi
Imam Yahya Hendi is the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, where he teaches a popular course called Inter-religious Encounter. Imam Hendi is also a Public Policy Conflict Resolution Fellow of the Center for Dispute Resolution of the University of Maryland School of Law and the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office.