Pope Francis calls for mutual respect in Ramadan message to Muslims
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
- He calls his message "an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims"
- It is sent ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan
- Pope: We have to bring up youths to think and speak respectfully of other religions
- The message was sent out in multiple languages, including Arabic
(CNN) -- Pope Francis has called for mutual respect between religions in a message addressed to Muslims as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr next week, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
It is traditional for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to send a message of good wishes and a proposed theme for common reflection at this time.
Opinion: How the 'Francis effect' could rescue the church
But Francis, who was elected to the papacy in March, said that he wanted to add the personal touch.
"This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders," he writes.
Quinn: Pope's comments 'positive'
Pope: 'Who am I to judge?'
Change in papacy's tone 'revolutionary'
"This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education."
Francis said his message should apply to everyone, with all people respecting the life, dignity and rights of each person.
"Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices," he said.
What is Ramadan?
Francis returned this week from a trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, during which he met many young Roman Catholics.
In his message, the pope refers to a speech he gave to the Vatican diplomatic corps in March, in which he stressed the need for dialogue with Islam.
With those words, he sought to "emphasize once more the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslims, and the need for it to be enhanced," he said.
The message was sent out in multiple languages, including Arabic.
Francis' predecessor, former pontiff Benedict XVI, angered many in the Muslim world when he gave a speech in 2006 in which he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of Islam's Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman" and "spread by the sword."
Opinion: What the pope left out about women
CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 0239 GMT (1039 HKT)
According to widely cited Italian media reports, Pope Francis recently told a young boy grieving the loss of a pet dog that "paradise is open to all God's creatures."
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
Pope Francis said that modern slavery is a "crime against humanity" and is "unfortunately becoming worse and worse every day."
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Pope Francis is to make his first trip to the United States as the head of the Catholic Church next September.
A Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," Pope Francis said.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
No topic has been off limits for Pope Francis so far.
June 14, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
Pope Francis prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile because it is a glass "sardine can" that walls him off from people.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace with Pope Francis.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1846 GMT (0246 HKT)
As the Holy Land prepares for a papal visit, Ivan Watson speaks to the man preparing to honor the pontiff with his food.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Not a jot of doctrine has changed in the year since Francis became Pope. But there's more than one way to measure his impact.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in a ceremony in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica -- the first such appointments since he was elected pontiff.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
"The spring evening in which Pope Francis was elected is an apt symbol of the beginning of his papacy and the years that will follow," writes a priest.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
In a gesture towards Valentine's Day, Pope Francis gave his advice on how to have a happy marriage before thousands of couples.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
Take a look at Pope Francis' first year in photos with our gallery.
November 7, 2013 -- Updated 2343 GMT (0743 HKT)
It was the embrace that melted hearts worldwide.
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis kisses and hugs disabled boy lifted up in the crowd.
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
With the new pope himself a trained scientist, could the timing could be right for a new era of cooperation between the Vatican and science?
March 16, 2013 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Pope Francis is being painted as a humble and simple man, but his past is tinged with controversy.