News this week focused on religion's role in public diplomacy.
Pope Francis arrived in Colombia on Wednesday with a message of unity for a nation deeply divided by a peace deal that ended a five-decade war with Marxist FARC rebels but left many victims of the bloodshed wary of the fraught healing process. Francis, making his 20th foreign trip since becoming pontiff in 2013 and his fifth to his native Latin America, started his visit in Colombian capital Bogota. He will travel later in the week to the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena.
The meeting of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr is an important step towards reaching out to the leadership in Iraq. It is the second such trip in as many months for Al Sadr, who commands a huge following among Iraq’s urban population.
An exploration of the Catholic Church's faith diplomacy and its impact on international relations.
An increasing number of organizations have in recent years begun to advocate collaboration with religious leaders in order to resolve conflicts. Former French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the Sant’Egidio community signed an unusual agreement on April 18. The convention explicitly recognized their “long-term collaboration” in various fields including interreligious dialogue, conflict prevention and the hosting of refugees.
As Imam Omar Shaheed looked out at the 150 people who packed the Columbia Museum of Art’s auditorium Sunday night, he was struck by one thing. “We’re all different religions, but we have a humanity,” he said. “That’s really standing out.” Shaheed, imam at Masjid as-Salaam in Columbia, was part of the panel at “Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam.” The discussion that was part of the event answered questions about the tenets of Islam, the most common misconceptions about the religion and the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The ambassadors of countries with embassies in Turkey attended an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner Tuesday evening hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the capital Ankara. [...] Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Turkey, whose country spearheaded efforts to isolate Qatar over what it calls support for extremists, was seated near Qatari Ambassador as both envoys briefly engaged in a warm conversation, according to a journalist from Hürriyet daily who attended the dinner.
The day before President Trump met with Pope Francis, Cardinal Peter Turkson juxtaposed the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia with what the Pope said in Egypt. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Pope Francis & Pres Trump reach out to Islam-world to exorcise it of [religious violence]. One offers peace of dialogue, the other security of arms.” [...] Yet the Ghanaian cardinal, Francis’ chief “minister” for matters of peace, suggesting that the “peace of dialogue” is the path to be preferred over the “security of arms.”