Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Vatican's
office for ecumenical relations. (AP)
Catholic Cardinal Kurt Koch, who heads the Vatican's office for ecumenical relations, said that Christians "have a mission to convert all non-Christian religions' people," including Muslims, to Christianity, with the exception of those who follow Judaism because of its unique, familial relationship with Christianity: both religions "have the same roots." For Muslims, he added, the "Islamic tradition" in terms of the Abrahmic religions "is not the same."
Speaking at an interfaith meeting over the weekend at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, England, Cardinal Koch explained that for Christianity and Judaism, "it is clear we are separate religions but the same family, we are a divorced family," reported The Telegrah.
"We are the same family, we have the same roots," said Koch, "and in this sense the reconciliation between church and synagogue, between Judaism and Christianity, is a great challenge for the Church."
But, he added, "I don't think that we have the same relationship with Islam that we have with Judaism."
"It is very clear that we can speak about three Abrahamic religions but we cannot deny that the view of Abraham in the Jewish tradition and the Christian tradition and the Islamic tradition is not the same," said Cardinal Koch.
"In this sense we have only with Jewish people this unique relationship that we do not have with Islam," said Koch, as reported in The Telegraph and the Catholic Herald.
Muslims at prayer. (AP)
When asked whether Christians have a duty to convert Muslims to Christianity, the cardinal said, "We have a mission to convert all non-Christian religions' people [except] Judaism."
Cardinal Koch further said, "We must above all convert these Muslims that use violence from the abuse of religion because the sister of all religion is freedom and peace and not violence, and when a religion uses violence to convert others, this is an abuse of religion."
Cardinal Koch, from Switzerland, is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican.
Last year, Cardinal Koch made it clear that he opposes the liberal notion that divorced and remarried Catholics may receive Communion, and drew a parralel between those who seek to adapt Church teaching to the times with those who sought to reconcile Christianity with Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Muslim women wearing the burqa. (AP)