Islamic-Christian friendship. Pastor Tomassone: Florence to be an active part of the process

In Florence the first step of a path with Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. The Waldensian pastor: "This dialogue cannot start from above, but must be initiated and cultivated in initiatives that start from below, directly involving civil society"

Rome (NEV), February 7, 2020 – A meeting which represents the first step of a path for Islamic-Christian friendship, was held on January 30, in Florence with the title: “Human fraternity for world peace and common coexistence. In the footsteps of Abu Dhabi and in the sign of friendship between Christians and Muslims”.
Among the guests, the pastor of the Waldensian church of Florence, Letizia Tomassone, the Baptist pastor Carmine Bianchi, the Adventist pastor Saverio Scuccimarri and the pastor Raffaele Volpe for the Swiss Reformed Church.
The meeting, Tomassone told the NEV agency, was moderated by Haifa Alsakkaf, of the Islamic Community of Florence, “a very capable woman. I found it a nice sign of female openness”, she said.
Cardinal Giuseppe Betori and Izzeddin Elzir, Imam of Florence, signed a document that partially follows the one on the human fraternity of Abu Dhabi, jointly signed by pope Francis and the great imam Aḥmad Muḥammad Aḥmad al-Ṭayyib of Al-Azhar in the context of the Global conference of Human fraternity, the international inter-religious conference held in the United Arab Emirates, in February 2019, which also saw the participation of the secretary general of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (CEC), Olav Fykse Tveit.
“In addition to talking about how the document was born, there was a discussion about the idea that Florence could be a pilot city in the implementation of Islamic-Christian Friendship and in the common reflection – explained pastor Letizia Tomassone -. Both Mohamed Bamoshmoosh, from the Islamic Community of Florence, and Maurizio Certini, director of the La Pira Foundation, underlined that Florence already hosted several meetings in the past. In 1995, with the prayer for peace at the Holy Cross, and in 2015 with the visit of the great imam Ahmad Muhammad al -Tayyeb, received at Palazzo Vecchio, just to give two examples”.
The final proposal was to “start Islamic-Christian Friendship right from Florence, where there is already a reality of dialogue, which manifests itself in many existing groups and initiatives. The idea – continued Tomassone – is that a more structured meeting possibility be created, even with a magazine, in analogy with the Jewish-Christian Friendship (born in Florence in 1951 by the will of Arrigo Levasti, Giorgio La Pira, Ines Zilli, Giorgio Spini, Giacomo Devoto, Angelo Orvieto and Aldo Neppi Modona, editor’s note).

Among the motivations that pushed the promoters to embark on this path, there was that of “giving young generations of Muslims and Christians, instruments for dialogue.  It was clear to everyone that this dialogue cannot start from above, but must be initiated and cultivated in actions that start from the basis, involving civil society directly”.
Representatives of the Russian, Romanian and Greek Orthodox Churches participated in the meeting, while Florence’s Rabbi Gadi Piperno sent a greeting message to the Assembly.
The meeting was promoted by the Giorgio La Pira Foundation and International Center, together with the Islamic Community of Florence and Tuscany and the Sophia University Institute, in collaboration with various religious and secular bodies of the area.