Evangelisation even to militant Muslims a priority – cardinal

Christians have a mission to convert Muslims to Christianity, the Vatican’s ecumenism chief has said.

Speaking at an interfaith meeting held by Cambridge University’s Woolf Institute, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the Christian mission requires even that Christians attempt to share the Faith with militant Islamist groups like the so-called Islamic State.

This duty to evangelise applies to all Christians in their relations with people of all other faiths except Judaism, the former archbishop of Basel said. Acknowledging that Muslims, like Jews, share a reverence for the traditions of faith drawn from Abraham, he nonetheless said that “we cannot deny that the view of Abraham in Jewish and Christian tradition and the Islamic tradition is not the same”.

“In this sense,” he said, “we have only with Jewish people this unique relationship that we do not have with Islam.” The cardinal urged Christians to view Judaism as a “mother”.

It is understood that the gathering, which was attended by senior Catholic and Jewish leaders, discussed a recent Vatican report on the Church’s relationship with Judaism.  This report, entitled ‘The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable’, said that the Church is obliged to view evangelisation to Jews differently from evangelisation to others.

While calling Christians to bear witness to their Faith to Jews, the report also said the Church “neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews”, recognising them as God’s chosen people and the bearers of his word.


The cardinal’s comments come in the wake of reports from Germany of Muslim refugees becoming Christian in substantial numbers.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has welcomed the world’s leading Sunni Muslim imam to the Vatican in the first meeting between a Pope and a grand imam since Cairo’s Al-Azhar University suspended talks in 2011 after Pope Benedict XVI said Christians in the Middle East were facing persecution.

Greeting Ahmad el-Tayeb, al-Azar’s grand imam, the Pontiff said, “The meeting is the message”.