Monsignor Marco Sprizzi conveys the pope’s greetings and praises the relations between the community and the Catholics
Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Timor-Leste, presents a document containing a message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Haji Abdullah Said Sagran, a former Muslim from the An-Nur Mosque in Dili on April 8 .
The Vatican envoy to predominantly Catholic Timor-Leste delivered a Ramadan message to Muslims in the country, in which he expressed appreciation for the minority group’s commitment to peace.
Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature, visited the An-Nur Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Dili, on April 8 and met with Muslim leaders.
Father Angelo Salshina, representative of the Archdiocese of Dili and president of the Religious Tourism Association of Timor-Leste accompanied him on the visit.
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Msgr. Sprizzi said he was offering Ramadan greetings from Pope Francis. He also presented a document containing a message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Haji Abdullah Said Sagran, a former Muslim.
The message titled “Christians and Muslims: Let us share joys and sorrows” alluded to the joy of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr taking place amid the pain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our hope, dear Muslim brothers and sisters, is that we continue to share the joys and sorrows of all our neighbors and friends because God’s love embraces every person and the entire universe,” the message read. .
“As a sign of our shared humanity and the brotherhood that flows from it, we wish you a peaceful and fruitful Ramadan and a joyful celebration of ‘Id al-Fitr,” he added.
Fr. Salshina told UCA News that Msgr. Sprizzi also expressed his appreciation for the Muslims of Timor Leste “because of the great spirit of tolerance with Catholics…that they can live in harmony and peace”.
He also said that Msgr. Sprizzi reiterated the pope’s intention to visit this year, although the date has yet to be confirmed.
“He stressed that interreligious dialogue is part of the Pope’s visitation program,” Fr. Salshina said.
Haji Abduullah Inacio Antonio Soares, Vice President of the Muslim Community of Timor-Leste, said, “We are very happy to receive the message from Pope Francis.”
“This is the first time since the independence of Timor-Leste that the Vatican has delivered a Ramadan message directly to us Muslims in East Timor,” he told UCA News.
“We express our gratitude to the Vatican representatives and also send our greetings to the Holy Father in the Vatican,” he said.
He said the Muslim community has harmonious relations with the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste, which is supported by a democratic government.
“Here, we can overcome religious barriers thanks to strong kinship. There are quite a few families whose members practice different religions, including mine, where there are Catholics and some Protestants,” he said.
Speaking of the Pope’s visit, he said “we are also very excited, as are the Catholics.”
“The story of Timor-Leste cannot be separated from the Catholic Church itself, especially from the role of the Vatican. We are very happy that a pope is visiting our country for the second time after the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1989,” he said.
Muslims represent less than 1% of the 1.3 million inhabitants of Timor-Leste.