MUMBAI – A former Vatican official who’s known as a point man in India and across Asia for inter-faith dialogue, has offered Muslims both best wishes but also prayers for the “conversion” of Islamic-inspired terrorists on the occasion of one of their major feasts.
Archbishop Felix Machado, former under-secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, today leads the Diocese of Vasai in India. He’s also the chair of the Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, the umbrella group for Catholic bishops across Asia.
Machado recently extended greetings to Muslims for the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and which was observed in most parts of the world this year on July 6.
“My greetings this year were filled with prayers for all the victims of violence in the name of religion,” he said. “I also pray for the conversion of all those who perpetrate these inhuman acts and wrongly believe that they are doing them for God,” Machado told Crux.
Eid al-Fitr is a unique festival in the Islamic in that it is of a purely spiritual significance. It is the day when Muslims thank Allah for giving them the strength and endurance for enduring the fasting of Ramadhan. It is a day of rejoicing by those who are happy and grateful to have accomplished successfully a difficult task, in this case a month of fasting.
When Crux reached out to Machado for a statement, he said he wanted to send greetings to “our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
He continued, “The Muslims believe in God who is Creator, Sustainer and Judge. Christians respect their belief and therefore send them greetings on the occasion of their principal feast.”
Machado ended on a hopeful note, recognizing the happiness of the occasion.
“May the purification of our belief in God bring us closer to each other, despite the difference of our religions,” he said.
Machado has been outspoken about recent trends in India, fueled by right-wing Hindu nationalist movements, which have been seen as cutting against the country’s tradition of religious tolerance.
India “is a land of dialogue and that is why I feel very sorry about the direction we are going now,” Machado said in an October 2015 interview with Vatican Radio.
Machado said he grew up among Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and Jains, but the identity of his devout Catholic family was never put into question. Today, he suggested, that’s no longer the case.