Muslim-Catholic Committee Asks End to Mideast Violence

Vatican and Islamic Theological Center Make Common Appeal

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 15, 2002 ( The Holy See and the most prestigious theological center of the Muslim world have called for negotiations and an end to violence as the only path to Middle East peace.

«We are convinced that violence breeds violence. The circle of violence must be stopped,» the statement of the Committee of Islamic-Catholic Dialogue says.

«We attest and assert that dialogue is the only way out of the present impasse,» the statement adds. «We therefore call for negotiations that will lead to a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike, allowing them to live in freedom, security, and peace within their own respective independent states.»

The purpose of the Committee of Islamic-Catholic Dialogue, created in May 1998, is to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue. It comprises representatives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with the Monotheist Religions.

«What has happened and is still happening in the Holy Land cannot leave anyone indifferent,» the representatives of the two religions state. «Muslims, Christians and Jews, along with all peace-loving persons and men and women of good will, are called to common action in order to put an end to this terrible tragedy and to work together toward establishing a just and lasting peace.»

Al-Azhar University, located in Cairo, Egypt, is over 1,000 years old, and is the most prestigious center of studies and research of the Muslim world.

The statement makes six appeals, most important among which is an immediate cease-fire; and respect for the rights of civilian populations, especially women, children and the elderly, as well as the holy places of the various faiths.

The press statement was signed by professor Hamid Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, and by Bishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, secretary of the pontifical council.

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