Interreligious Dialogue Urged in Bangladesh

Moral Law Is the Basis, Pope Tells Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The moral law is the best basis for interreligious cooperation, John Paul II told Bangladesh´s bishops, as he made an appeal for Catholic-Muslim dialogue in that Asia country.

“Given the particular situation in which you live, interreligious dialogue is an integral part of your pastoral mission,” the Pontiff explained Tuesday to the bishops, who were on their quinquennial “ad limina” visit.

About 88% of Bangladesh´s 124 million inhabitants are Muslim. Only 252,000, or 0.2%, are baptized Catholics.

“More frequent contacts between Christians and Muslims, and greater understanding of one another´s religious traditions and values, should help to overcome attitudes of suspicion and distrust, and ensure that Bangladesh´s traditions of religious freedom are maintained and upheld,” he said.

The Pope said there is ample room for interreligious cooperation in “defending the dignity of the human person and the essential role of the family in the life of society, and in promoting the common good.”

“The best foundation for such cooperation is the moral law inscribed in the human heart, which is mankind´s common treasure and a fundamental meeting point between peoples of different cultures and religious traditions,” he emphasized.

Bangladesh has a total of 253 priests, 98 seminarians, 1,070 religious, and 6,724 catechists. Over the past five years, the number of Catholics has grown by more than 10%.

During the Jubilee year, the Church launched two great projects in the country: the publication of the Jubilee Bible, and the translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Bengali.

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ZENIT Staff

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