Catholics and Muslims Value Children as Blessings from God

Vatican Sends Annual Message to Muslims at end of Ramadan

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2004 ( «We are conscious that on the future of children depends the future of humanity,» said Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald in a message sent to Muslims on the dignity of children.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sent the annual message to Muslims on the occasion of end of the month of Ramadan, which will be celebrated this year on Nov. 14.

The text, issued by the Vatican press office, states that «We should denounce untiringly everything that degrades the child, combating with all the force we can muster the ‘structures of sin,’ to use an expression taken up by Pope John Paul II.»

«Our common endeavors in favor of children will continue and may in fact increase. In this way we shall give further proof of the benefit that can come from religion for the whole human community,» it adds.

«Every child has an inalienable right to life and, in so far as this is possible, to be welcomed within a natural, stable family,» the archbishop says.

«The life of the child, just as the life of every human person, is sacred,» the prelate stresses in the text which was published on Friday in English, Italian and French.

The archbishop laments the fact that «[c]hildren have also been the first victims of the increase in sexual abuse and in prostitution over these last years.»

The message warns about the suffering of children when families separate or when there is organ and drug trafficking. «When families break up it is the children who are the first to suffer. The increase in the use of drugs and in drug trafficking, especially in poor countries, often involves children, to their great harm. Again, the despicable trafficking in organs concerns children in a particular way, and the tragedy of AIDS often means that they are infected from birth.»

Archbishop Fitzgerald highlights the fact that Muslims and Christians see children as a blessing. «You consider the child to be a blessing from God, in particular for the parents. As Christians we share with you this religious attitude, but our Christian faith teaches us also to discover in the child a model for our relationship with God.»

The archbishop continued that ‘[o]n several occasions these last years representatives of the Holy See and of countries with a Muslim majority have defended together in international fora fundamental human values.»

However, Archbishop Fitzgerald laments that still «[t]oo many children are forced to engage in heavy work that endangers their physical and psychological development, prevents them from attending school and thus deprives them of the instruction to which they have a right.»

The message expresses the hope that «[d]uring this month of Ramadan, may your children be strong in accomplishing good works,» and may «their lives in this way bear witness to the importance of religious values.»

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar. During this month the followers of Islam fast. Family life, contemplation and worship are emphasized. The celebration at the end of Ramadan is known in Arabic with the name «Id al-Fitr.»

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