Real Believers Are Antidote to Fanaticism, Says Holy See

Cardinal Tauran Addresses Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue

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DOHA, Qatar, MAY 27, 2004 ( Authentic believers are the best antidote to religious fanaticism and the violation of religious liberty, the Holy See told a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue.

«Political leaders have nothing to fear from true believers,» said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, librarian and archivist of the Holy Roman Church and former Vatican secretary for relations with states.

He is was one of the principal speakers today at the first public session of the Qatar Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue, being held in this capital through Saturday. The Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Muslims and the Gulf Studies Center of Qatar University organized the conference.

«Authentic believers are also the best antidote to all forms of fanaticism,» the cardinal said in English. The Vatican Information Service published parts of his address.

«They know that preventing their brothers and sisters from practicing their religion, discriminating against a follower of a religion other than one’s own, or worse still, killing in the name of religion, are abominations that offend God and which no cause or authority, be it political or religious, can ever justify,» he added.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the pontifical commission, addressed words of welcome to the invited guests.

Other speakers included Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, foreign minister of Qatar; Sheikh Mohammad Sayed Tantawi, grand iman of al-Azhar; Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III; Youssef Al-Qaradawi of the University of Qatar; and Hamid Bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue.

Cardinal Tauran described the meeting as «an eloquent testimony of fraternity.»

«The sound of warfare, which is heard not far from us, will not prevent us from reflecting upon our responsibilities as believers, or from addressing a message of friendship to all those willing to accept it,» he said.

«Our meeting is first of all a meeting of believers. Since we acknowledge that we are children of the same God, we can accept our differences and together devote ourselves to the service of society, with respect for justice, moral values and peace,» the French cardinal said.

He went on to say that the meeting is «also a dialogue between believers belonging to two different religions. In order to avoid any syncretism or caricature of others, it is important that each person remain loyal to his or her own faith.»

Cardinal Tauran quoted John Paul II who on numerous occasions has highlighted the many things that Muslims and Christians have in common as «worshippers of God,» «seekers of God,» and «believers in the same God.»

«The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the richness of your spiritual tradition. We Christians, too, are proud of our religious tradition,» Cardinal Tauran said.

The Holy See representative added that «for this reason, freedom of conscience and of religion is important, even absolutely necessary. Religious freedom respects at the same time both God and man! It is absolute and reciprocal. It extends beyond the individual to the community; it has both a civil and social dimension. Religious freedom thus understood and lived out can become a powerful factor for building peace.»

He added: «Here in Doha, all of us can, indeed must, do our part in paving the way of fraternity and peace.»

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