ASSOCIATION OF PROGRESSIVE MUSLIMS OF CANADA
APMC DELEGATION MEETS POPE FRANCIS ON OCTOBER 24, 2018
On October 24, 2018, Mobeen Khaja met His Holiness, Pope Francis, to thank him for his message of peace and harmony to the people of the world and for always defending the oppressed and vulnerable people everywhere in the world.
Mobeen Khaja led a Delegation of 30 Muslims and Catholic Christians to meet His Holiness. This is in keeping with one of APMC's objectives of engaging in interfaith dialogues and cross-cultural understanding.
His Excellency Luigi Bonazzi the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada arranged this very special visit which exceeded our expectations and Mobeen Khaja and all those who attended are very grateful to him for this honour. .
The invitation was extended to members of the APMC and of the Advisory Board, and also close supporters. It was also extended to youth from across Canada in the form of an essay competition.
All those who attended described the experience as "extraordinary". After passing through security, the APMC delegation was ushered to seats close to the front of the stage. APMC's presence was announced and acknowledge during the sermon by His Holiness Pope Francis.
After the sermon, the delegation was invited to come down to the steps in front of St Peter’s Basilica. APMC was the second delegation in line. His Holiness Pope Francis came towards the APMC group and extended a warm welcome. His Holiness Pope Francis took time to speak to each member of the delegation, accepting various letters, and giving his blessings. As he continued his greetings, at a point, in a moment that could only be described as awe inspiring, and truly reflective of His Holiness Pope Francis’ kind and warm spirit, he said to the group “Please pray for me”.
The next day, Thursday October 25, 2018, the APMC delegation met with the heads of two organizations to establish connections for further inter-faith dialogue. In the morning, most members of the delegation met with His Excellency Bishop Miguel Ayuso who is Titular Bishop of Luperciana, and Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. His Excellency Bishop Ayuso spoke to the delegation about the creation of the Council, its purposes to work within the global village in a world where religious institutions are constantly being called on to be progressive, and the recent outreach they have been able to accomplish. His Excellency Bishop Ayuso iterated a commonality between the Council and the APMC to promote dialogue of respect and friendship with a message of peace and congratulated APMC on its achievements.
The second meeting of the day was at Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (PISAI). The institute originally began in Tunisia as a way for traveling Priests to learn to live harmoniously within the Islamic culture. We were informed the institute now hosts numerous students from around the world, who are selected by their local parishes to attend in order to learn Italian and classical Arabic in order to gain a better understanding of the Quran as well as its accompanying texts. The institute has three publications and consults with various organizations that deal within the Islamic diaspora.
There were two Imams in the delegation, Imam Shaykh Faisal Abdur Razak of the Islamic Forum of Canada and Imam Syed Badiuddin Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. The discussions were meaningful.