The Italian Almanac


Global Fight

The Holy See called on Muslims to join in the global fight against poverty. In the traditional address following the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, the Vatican`s ``foreign minister`` Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran said that the time had come for ``Muslims and Catholics to combat the scourge of poverty together``.

Interfaith dialogue has been at the forefront of Pope Benedict XVI`s agenda this year. In April, the Vatican and the Arab League signed a declaration to work for peace around the world, especially in the middle east. During his trip to the Holy Land in May, the Pope expressed his ``profound respect for the Muslim community`` and called on an ``alliance of civilizations`` to end religious violence and conflict.

Cooperation in the war on poverty is likely to center on Africa, where Pope Benedict XVI met representatives of Cameroon`s Muslim community during his visit in March. On Thursday, the Pope invited UN Food and Agriculture Organization director Jacques Diouf to an October bishops` synod on Africa. The Senegalese diplomat, who is expected to deliver an update on food security in the region, is the first Muslim ever invited to a bishops` synod.

Muslims make up approximately one third of Africa`s population while one fifth are estimated to be Christians. While there have been cases of cooperation between the two communities in relief efforts and development projects, episodes of religious violence, such as the July clashes in Nigeria, are still cause for concern.