Prayers and congratulations emanated from Muslims to Catholics as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio ascended the Papacy after Pope Benedict’s resignation. The previous Pope had insulted Islam and its holy founder Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his Regensburg Lecture, whereas Cardinal Bergoglio devoted a large portion of his efforts to strengthening Catholic-Islamic ties.
Bergoglio distanced himself from Pope Benedict’s harmful quotes warning that such derogatory statements only create outrage in the Islamic community and "serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last 20 years.” Muslims are enthusiastic that the newly elected Pope will continue the noble pursuit of Pope John Paul II.
Leaders of the Islamic Community welcomed Bergoglio as the new Pope, noting that he "always showed himself as a friend of the Islamic community", and a person whose position is "pro-dialogue".
The worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Fifth Successor of the latter-day Messiah, announced; “I would like to offer congratulations to Pope Francis I and to Catholics across the world. May the appointment of the new Pope prove to be blessed not just for Christians but for all people across the globe. May the new Pope lead the Church towards the true teachings of Christianity. I hope and pray that in the forthcoming era the Pope uses his influence to develop peace and harmony in the world. There is a great need to join together upon our common teachings and particularly upon the Unity of God. Rather than increase division, the world desperately needs unity and compassion. This is something that I wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in a letter I sent to him in 2011.
In my letter to the Pope, I also requested him to use his great influence to bring the people of the world together towards peace, reconciliation and mutual understanding and to strive to prevent the world from destruction. I send the same message to the new Pope as well. In terms of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, we have always been at the forefront of promoting inter-faith harmony and striving for peace. We always co-operate with all people and organizations who desire peace and tolerance and will forever continue to do so.”
Christians, Jews, and other monotheistic believers are recognized as “people of the Book” in the Holy Quran. Although we don’t agree in a few details of our beliefs, we all strive in providing the greatest benefit to God’s creation. I pray that we put our differences of dogma aside and unite in service to become the beneficial body of believers described in the Holy Quran as; “the best people raised for the good of mankind because you enjoin goodness, forbid evil and believe in God” (Chapter Family of Imran, 3:111).
As an Ahmadi Muslim, I hope to work side by side with my Catholic friends in caring for the poor and establishing the pressing need for worldwide harmony both between people and with the environment.