"No Family Can Allow Hatred to Take Root"

Cardinal Pell’s Address to Interreligious Panel

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SYDNEY, Australia, JUNE 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an address Cardinal George Pell gave to an interreligious conference on Saturday in defense of family life and marriage.

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Remarks to the 4th International Interreligious Abraham Conference
By Cardinal George Pell
Archbishop of Sydney

It is an honor to join distinguished religious leaders such as Rabbi John Levi, an old friend, and Sheikh Fehmi Haji El-Imam on this panel to discuss how interfaith cooperation might move beyond dialogue to action and practical initiatives.

One of the great tasks facing us for the 21st century is to build bridges and improve relations among the great religions, especially among all monotheists. Jews, Christians and Moslems should have a special advantage in undertaking this work, because we are all the children of Abraham. We all worship the one true God, reverence the holy city of Jerusalem, believe that our actions in this life will be judged, met with approval or disapproval in the next life. We believe in God as creator of the universe and as the Great Judge after the day of resurrection. We all believe in the importance of prayer.

The common origin we share in God’s revelation to Abraham means that we also share a common destiny. As children of God and children of Abraham, we can, like all children, have our disagreements and our differences, sometimes terrible differences.

But awareness of our common origin requires us always to remember that we belong to the same monotheist family, and to treat each other accordingly. No family can allow hatred and violence to take root and flourish amongst its children. This is our responsibility too.

Jews, Muslims and Christians each have great traditions and histories. But genuine friendship is not built on disowning our identity. In fact, we can only build friendship when we embrace the richness of our own traditions in all their fullness.

This means owning not only the magnificence and the strengths of our traditions, but also the weaknesses and the depredations that our co-religionists have committed and unfortunately continue to commit. We need to take full responsibility for ensuring that friendship is not strangled by those worshipping the idols of violence and fanaticism.

We must continue to encourage the adherents of our traditions, especially at the grass-root level to enter into dialogue with each other. And on the basis of this dialogue and the good fruits it might bear, we should also begin thinking of how we might deepen and secure our growing friendship through practical initiatives in a range of areas.

All children of Abraham are called to oppose the excesses of individualism, such as pornography, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity and abortion. We who profess a religious faith have a solemn duty to uphold key moral values and to propose them to society.

A country like Australia offers many blessings to those who believe in God, including respect for truth, for human family and dignity, for religious freedom, and a commitment to just, non-violent political structures. We have to work together to protect these good things, and to ensure that we continue to enjoy them despite hostile pressures that can arise both from within our society, and from outside.

While this will mean working together on issues touching on morality, it should also mean that we work together in the areas of social justice, education and welfare. With all Australians, we have an interest in preserving and strengthening the conditions that ensure peace, harmony, stability and prosperity in our democracy, with our now traditional separation of Church and state, or more accurately, religion and government.

None of us should have any interest in seeing historic enmities imported to Australia. It is often to escape these conflicts and to enjoy the opportunities that flourish in the absence of violence and poverty that migrants continue to come to our country, and continue to be welcomed.

We should not take this for granted and in working together to protect this enormous achievement, we must give each other room to move, room to be different, with the basic civil rights of all respected, with no harassment of minorities. All Australians should also work for such conditions overseas, to the extent that we can.

Muslims, Christians and Jews share common commitments which are embodied socially and which we can join together in proposing and defending to the wider society. We all believe in the value of educating our children in our faiths.

There is clearly an opportunity for us to work together to defend faith-based education in Australia, to cooperate with the state systems of education and show how our schools contribute to the health, diversity and harmony of Australian life. We share in common a duty to care for the poor and the marginalized. We believe in commerce and in just relations between employers and workers. We believe in the importance of families having the opportunity to buy their own homes.

Of particular concern to all Christians, Jews and Muslims is the family. People are foolish if they pretend that the consequences of family breakdown have no social impact. One of the great cleavages that we are beginning to see opening up in our society is between children who come from stable and loving families, and those who do not. Those who are lost to drugs, suicide, violence, and alcoholism, are often those who do not have the personal and family resources and resilience to resist or avoid these perils. Family breakdown and instability are a growing cause of impoverishment.

Loving faithful marriage is the true foundation of the family. I suspect that the haves and have-nots of the future will often be divided into those who have had a loving family upbringing and those who have never had this opportunity.

The children of Abraham should take the lead in ensuring a better future not only for children and families, but also for our country. With our secular brothers and sisters we can make a significant contribution to a better future for our nation of Australia.

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