Islam's Crisis Needs a Truly Christian Response, Says Prelate

Tunis Archbishop Posts an Open Letter

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ROME, JUNE 11, 2004 ( Archbishop Fouad Twal of Tunis has written an open letter explaining that Islam is going through a crisis to which Christians should respond with love and hope, not war.

In the letter to Christians of the West, the bishop says that «after the attack on the twin towers and the war in Iraq, confidence in international justice and serenity have diminished.»

«We are all wounded and we too live terrorism with pain, like you in the West,» he adds. «In the Middle East, there have also been hundreds of attacks. There is violence is in every country, as it is in man’s heart.»

«The issue is not only Saddam’s Iraq; there are other interests at stake and, above all, the whole of the Middle East cannot be changed by force. Time is necessary to do good and to continue with a dialogue which, on the part of the Christian community, has never been interrupted,» Archbishop Twal writes.

The Italian weekly Tempi published the full text of his letter.

«Today,» the 63-year-old prelate said, «Islam is a world in crisis, which at times believes that it finds strength and security in fanaticism. We do not have to cure it with war, but with love and hope, within a world situation that is not helpful.»

The immigration of Muslims to the West «might be a richness.» But for it to be so, it must be made «less insecure; it is necessary to intensify aid to those governments that commit themselves to spread education and increase job possibilities in their countries,» the archbishop in Tunisia said.

At the same time, «it is necessary to intensify exchanges at the academic and scientific level to favor those components of the Muslim world who want an open relation with modernity,» he stressed.

«It is necessary to keep in mind that fundamentalism finds fertile ground in poverty, ignorance and injustice,» Archbishop Twal continued. However, «to dialogue, one needs first of all a solid knowledge of the Catholic Christian faith, and a determined adherence to the magisterium of the Church, which is the guarantee in the following of Christ.»

He added: «Our experience shows that Christian testimony and charity always ‘open a breach,’ also in the Muslim world.»

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