Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Africa Advocated

Pope Sends Message to Senegal’s New Ambassador

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2005 ( John Paul II launched an appeal from his hospital room urging Christians and Muslims to cooperate for the sake of peace in Africa.

In a letter sent today to Felix Oudiane, the new ambassador of Senegal to the Holy See, the Pope stated that religion can never justify violence and that “Africa is in urgent need of peace and stability.”

The Senegalese diplomat handed his letters of credence in the Vatican to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state.

The Holy Father said in his letter: “In our world, frequently darkened by great areas of shadow, fruit of conflicts that at times are violent, in which attempts are made to justify them with religious motives, it must be said that testimonies of coexistence between believers of different religions, in particular, between Muslims and Christians, are not lacking.”

Catholics comprise about 5% of Senegal’s population of 10.8 million.

In his message to the representative of the Dakar government, which has long collaborated in international peace operations, John Paul II added with satisfaction that Senegal is demonstrating that “dialogue between believers and cultures is an essential element for the building of peace among peoples.”

“Senegal shows itself to be particularly sensitive to the need to live diversity of religious membership in the unity of the nation. It is one of the conditions for the full development of society,” continued the text.

“Despite the inevitable difficulties inherent to coexistence among different human communities, dialogue allows for the recognition of the richness of its diversity,” said the Pope. He added that this dialogue must “serve the common good of the one human family.”

“There is still a long way for us to travel together, of mutual knowledge, forgiveness and reconciliation, opening to habitual collaboration that will contribute to build a peaceful and fraternal society,” he noted.

The Holy Father concluded by affirming the Church’s commitment to “this path,” as “it corresponds to believers to make it a hope for the world.”

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