Message to Muslims Stresses Duty in Dialogue

Cardinal Arinze´s Letter at End of Ramadan

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2000 (
Christians and Muslims have a duty to educate in dialogue, the Vatican said in a message sent to the prophet Mohammed´s followers at the end of Ramadan.

«Though the fast you observe has its own characteristics and discipline, fasting is a practice that is also common to Christianity and to other religions,» the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Francis Arinze, explained, in a message sent for the celebration of Id al-Fitr. «Therefore, this month provides a propitious moment for us to remind ourselves of ´the spiritual bonds that unite us,´ to use the words of Pope John Paul II.»

The cardinal mentioned that the «Year 2001 has been proclaimed by the United Nations as ´The International Year of Dialogue between Civilizations.´ This gives an opportunity to reflect on the bases of dialogue, on its consequences, and on the fruit that humanity may harvest from it.»

The Vatican letter takes up John Paul II´s Message for the World Day of Peace of the Year 2001 (Jan. 1), which is entitled «Dialogue Between Cultures for a Civilization of Love and Peace.»

«The dialogue of civilizations, the dialogue of cultures, the dialogue between religions, are nothing less than human encounters whose purpose is to build up a civilization of love and peace,» he wrote. «We are all called to promote such dialogue according to its distinctive forms, as a way of bringing about appreciation of other cultures and religions.»

In particular, Cardinal Arinze proposed to Muslims the need to emphasize education in dialogue for youths. «In accompanying young people along the highways of life, attention has to be given to the preparation required for living in a society marked by ethnic, cultural and religious plurality.»

«Such education implies, first of all, that we broaden our vision to an ever wider horizon, become capable of looking beyond our own country, our own ethnic group, our own cultural tradition, so that we can see humanity as a single family in both its diversity and its common aspirations,» the Nigerian cardinal explained.

«This is education in the fundamental values of human dignity, peace, freedom and solidarity,» Cardinal Arinze wrote. «It evokes the desire to know other people, to be able to share their sorrows and to understand their deepest feelings. Education for dialogue means nurturing the hope that conflict situations can be resolved through personal and collective commitment.»

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