(Vatican Radio) When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Lebanon September 14-16, he will
be travelling to a region where Muslims make up the overwhelming majority of the population
while Christians, natives to these lands, consist of a very small minority. But the
world’s Muslims by no means come exclusively from the Middle East.
from the “PEW Institute” indicate a world population of 1.6 thousand million Muslims,
with an annual increase of 1.5%. By the year 2030, 60% of the world’s Muslims are
expected to be in the Asia-Pacific region and it is believed that Pakistan will surpass
Indonesia to become the country with the largest number of Muslims.
Klement, Salesian Councillor for Missions, says about 30 of the order’s 90-some Provinces
are in daily contact with young Muslims, and the Salesians of Don Bosco are seeing
an increasing trend in similar nature in European Provinces.
Salesian communities primarily operate shelters for homeless or at-risk youths; schools
and universities; technical, vocational, and language instruction centers for youths
and adults; and boys' clubs and community centers.
Salesians are also active
in publishing as well as work, especially in , , and .
Fr. Klement points
out that “there are hundreds of Salesians born in countries with a Muslim majority,
who grew up within Christian communities which had the opportunity to be in a dialogue
of life with Muslim brothers and sisters and with the different Muslim cultures.”
he acknowledges that one of the chief challenges to Salesians living in a Muslim context
is that “In the whole Congregation unfortunately we have few confreres with a good
academic and practical preparation (in Islamic studies).”
Listen to Tracey
McClure’s interview with Fr. Vaclav Klement in which he talks about the challenges
facing Salesian missionaries in the Muslim world today… listen: