Fast Is Courageous Step to Overcome Divisions, Leading Muslim Says

Ali Schuetz Comments on Significance of John Paul II´s Initiative

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MILAN, Italy, DEC. 14, 2001 ( A leading European Muslim published a message today describing the day of fast convoked by John Paul II as «God´s grace.»

«By fasting together, thanks to the Pope´s enlightened proposal, we have a providential occasion to experience God´s grace in the midst of men,» Ali F. Schuetz wrote.

Schuetz heads the Muslim Union for Relations with the Catholic World and is a member of the Segrate mosque in Milan.

John Paul II had called the world´s Catholics to join Muslims today in their last day of fast for Ramadan, in order to pray for an end to terrorism and to the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Believers of other religions and Christian denominations followed the initiative.

«Fasting unites us in an ancient practice. Since the dawn of humanity it has always been a purifying and liberating practice,» Schuetz said in a statement published by the Italian daily Avvenire.

«In the global village, fasting, which I dare to call ecumenical in the ancient etymological sense, can become an effective instrument for our meeting and peaceful coexistence, something we should all long for,» Schuetz said.

Addressing Catholics directly, Schuetz continued: «Thanks to the guidance of your Pontiff, you have had the courage to take a difficult step toward us, toward Islam that prays and fasts; a courage that is all the more noteworthy and meritorious given the very difficult historical moment (for all), in which division, hatred, violence, loathing, rancor and vengeance seem, instead, to prevail.»

«Let us ask the God of Love and Mercy to reward you for this merit,» he added. «May his grace be concrete for all men of good will, both at the spiritual level — raising his faithful and sincere adorers by increasing their faith, which is difficult in a world that has forgotten the highest values or uses them for earthly and disordered ends — as well as the physical and material level, bringing individual and social benefits.»

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