Pope Francis' ecumenical outreach continues at a relentless pace, across the boundaries of Christian Denominations, World Religions, and Nations:-

Pope Francis wants more dialogue with Islam. Is Egypt the key?

For Pope Francis, dialogue with Islam is a core issue. He recently voiced hopes to meet a major Sunni leader: the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, Ahmed el-Tayeb.

“I want to meet him. I know that he would like it,” the Pope said during his Feb. 18 in-flight press conference.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, is reaching out to al-Azhar Mosque.

“We are looking for the way, always through Cardinal Tauran because it is the path, but we will achieve it,” Pope Francis said on his flight from Mexico to Italy.

The al-Azhar Mosque and its companion university are the most prominent institutions of Sunni Islam. Both institutions were founded in the 10th century. In 1961, the university added non-religious curricula.

el-Tayeb has been imam of the al-Azhar Mosque since his 2010 election. He was elected rector of the university in 2003. He is considered a moderate Sunni who has worked to prevent Islamic radicalization.

Father Miguel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, visited al-Azhar on Feb. 16 and met with the mosque’s deputy imam, Abbas Shuman. The Holy See Press Office said the two had a “cordial meeting.”

At this meeting, the priest invited the Grand Imam to meet with the Pope at the Vatican. . .

In this and all of the other ecumenical activities of Pope Francis we should keep in mind the Church of Rome's New Evangelization, to which he is as deeply committed as his predecessors John-Paul II and Benedict XVI. This makes it the height of hypocrisy that he calls for rejection of proselytism and competition in the Christian world. Proselytism and, not just competition but domination, is at the core of the New Evangelization. This is a snare for the unwary, comprising the vast majority of contemporary Protestants. The objective of the New Evangelization is clear from the following candid dissertation:

Professor/ Pope Benedict Leads the School of the New Evangelization

After returning from Madrid where Two Million young people gathered with him to be instructed in the faith and enlisted into the mission of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI gathered his former doctoral students together in Castel Gandolfo to reflect on the theme of the New Evangelization. . .

Throughout the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II he called for such a "New Evangelization." Pope Benedict XVI has made this New Evangelization a central pillar of his pontificate. He erected a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost. The call to a New Evangelization invites each of us to live our baptismal vocation, no matter what our state in life, completely given over to the work of the Lord in this crucial hour. We do that when we choose to live at the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. Since the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church we have been constantly reminded that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in her missionary activity. The New Evangelization means taking this truth to heart and living differently. It requires an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can undertake a new missionary outreach. I believe that we are at the beginning of a great resurgence in the Catholic Church precisely for this mission. Just when her opponents are ready to count the Catholic Church out, the sleeping giant is rising. The Church is Christ's plan for the entire world.

The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled." There is no "plan B" through which He will save this world. She is a universal sign, sacrament and seed of the kingdom of God. . .

This Church called Catholic is not a mere human institution. If it were, it would have shipwrecked long ago. The contemporary culture has lost its way, throwing off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a new paganism. What Pope Benedict calls the "Dictatorship of Relativism" is the bad fruit of a rejection of truth. Given the current state of moral decline in Western Culture we need to view the entirety of the American continent as missionary territory, ripe for the New Evangelization. We also need to view the once Christian Nations of the European continent as mission territory. Most importantly, we need to view ourselves as missionaries in a new missionary age. We are also students and disciples, called to the New Evangelization. The Lord of the harvest is calling workers to the New Evangelization of His Church. Then, as loyal sons and daughters of that Church, He is calling us into the fields of contemporary culture which are ripe and ready for harvest. . .

In its treatment of this "mystery" called the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled."

As to the critical role of Pope Francis in the New Evangelization, the title of the following article says it all:

Pope Francis is all about the new evangelization, says expert

With a style that meets the need for a new missionary zeal, Pope Francis is representative of the new evangelization, says one theologian and guest speaker for the upcoming annual gathering of Ratzinger's former students.

“The new style represented by Pope Francis is the first to merit the title of new evangelization,” said Msgr. Tomas Halik in an interview with CNA.

“If this progress, which has aroused so much hope in the Church – and outside [it] -- were to stop, it would have tragic consequences, both for the Church and for the world,” he said. . .

In his May, 2014, address to participants in the meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies Pope Francis provides his perspective on the New Evangelization:

Address of Pope Francis to Participants in the Meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies

I welcome the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies and collaborators of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni and all of you who serve of the Church’s mission to bring the Gospel to peoples all over the Earth.

With the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium I wished to invite all the faithful to a new season of evangelization; and in our time the missio ad gentes is also the fundamental dynamism of the Church’s outreach. The eagerness to evangelize to the “ends”, as witnessed to by holy and generous missionaries, helps all communities to create an outgoing and effective pastoral ministry, a renewal of structures and works. Missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity (cf. Evangelii gaudium, n. 15).

Evangelizing at this time of great social transformation requires a missionary Church impelled to go forth, capable of discerning how to deal with various cultures and man’s visions. Because a world in transformation needs a Church renewed and transformed by contemplation and personal contact with Christ, through the power of the Spirit. The Spirit of Christ is the source of renewal, for he enables us to discover new paths, new creative methods, various forms of expression for the evangelization of the present world. . .

The Church, which is missionary by her nature, carries out the service of charity to all as a fundamental prerogative. Universal fraternity and solidarity are connatural to her life and to her mission in the world and for the world. Evangelization, which must reach everyone, is nevertheless called to begin with the least, with the poor, with those who are weighed down by the burden and strain of life.

The last sentence above reveals that the Pope's expressions of concern for the poor is a fundamental part of his promotion of Evangelization.

Finally, in the following article can be found an explanation of Pope Francis' deliberate downplaying of the controversial social issues which have aroused antagonism in the world of politics, especially in America. It is nothing more than a clever ploy to gain wide acceptance of his prominent role on the world stage. Neither he nor Rome has abandoned her Social Doctrine:

The Pope’s radical call to the new evangelization

During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.

At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation of Pope Francis and his views.

Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7). In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.

With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview”, ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context. But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.

Pope Francis chose the moment for himself to speak unambiguously on these issues, and to do so within the context of pastoral charity, when he addressed the Dignitatis Humanae Institute at our Fifth Anniversary Papal Audience. Exhorting the assembled politicians, the Holy Father warned of a modern-day “throwaway culture” which threatens “to become the dominant mentality”. He went on to identify those who suffer most from such a culture, declaring: “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out’, expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’” (lor, English edition, 13 December 2013, p. 7). . .

Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church. . .

In the words and actions of Pope Francis can be seen the evidence that he is every bit a "political animal," as he has been proud to acknowledge. He disarms in order to conquer. Caveat emptor!