“This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders,” Francis said in the message released by the Vatican on Aug. 2.
“This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.”
Francis said his message should apply to everyone, with all people respecting the life, dignity and rights of each person.
“Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices,” he said.
“We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow. … With these sentiments, I reiterate my hope that all Christians and Muslims may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education,” he added.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day religious festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid is an Arabic term meaning “festivity” or “celebration” while fitr means “to break the fast” and can also mean “nature,” from the word “fitra.” The Eid is set to start on Thursday this year.