Vatican Invites Hindus to Work With Catholics in Favor of Children

In a Message Sent for the Feast of Diwali

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2004 ( The Holy See invited Hindus worldwide to work together with Catholics to give concrete help to underprivileged children.

The message was signed by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and sent for the feast of Diwali, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil. Many Hindus will celebrate the feast this year on Nov. 12.

The theme chosen for this year’s message, published today by the Vatican press office in English, French and Italian, is «Collaboration between Hindus and Christians with Special Regard to Children.»

The prelate explained in the text that Jesus asks us to be «like children» to enter «in the kingdom of heaven.»

He quoted from Mark 18: «Truly, I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.»

«During this season of Diwali, as you strive to overcome darkness through light, evil through goodness and hatred through love, I would like to propose to you, as one of your Christian friends, that we focus our attention on the evils in our society that afflict children,» Archbishop Fitzgerald said.

The archbishop pointed out some of these evils: «forced labor, forced conscription, breakdown of the family, trafficking in organs and persons, sexual abuse, forced prostitution, AIDS, the sale and use of drugs, etc.»

«What have children done to merit such suffering?» he asked. «Could not the dialogue between Hindus and Christians take concrete form by working together in support of underprivileged children, who are often the innocent victims of war and violence, inadequate food and water, forced immigration and the many forms of injustice present in today’s world?»

«I am fully aware that such cooperation between the followers of our two religious traditions already exists, but we could and should do more, as the problem is serious, indeed it is tragic,» he wrote.

The Vatican representative added that «your suggestions as to what could be done to give children their rightful place in society would be most welcome.»

He added: «Our children are our future; they are the future of humanity.»

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