VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See sent a message to Hindus to propose a common commitment of solidarity, especially for the underprivileged or those affected by natural disasters.
The proposal appears in the message sent by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of Diwali, the most important feast for Hindu believers. The feast symbolizes the triumph of truth over lies, light over darkness, life over death, and good over evil.
“Religious feasts, recalling to us the spiritual dimension of life and the search for true meaning, provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the significance of tragic events in our own lives or in those of people around us,” affirms the archbishop.
His reflection was inspired by last December’s quake-triggered tsunami in South Asia.
“The forces of nature wreaked great havoc, many lives were lost, countless homes were destroyed, sources of livelihood ruined and families, including many children, were left destitute,” Archbishop Fitzgerald recalls.
“Through the bonds of friendship forged by dialogue over the years, we Christians have come to discover that you, as Hindus, are greatly concerned about those who are suffering,” adds the prelate in his message.
“For your part, you may have come to realize that the Christian faith teaches that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and is thus deserving of attention and concern,” he states.
Reason for hope
The response in the aftermath of the tsunami is a reason for hope for the Vatican representative, as “solidarity across religious boundaries has helped to bring hope to many of the victims.”
“Teams of relief workers belonging to different religious traditions have been tireless in working to alleviate immediate suffering and to initiate reconstruction,” he states.
“At a time when aggressive secularism would seem to be on the increase and respect for basic human values often appears to be on the decline, such cooperation among people of different religions can bring about a new respect for religion in today’s world,” the Vatican official concludes.
There are 811 million Hindus worldwide. The vast majority live in Asia, especially India, where they constitute 81.5% of the population. Hindu believers comprise 13.4% of the world’s population.
Many Hindus will celebrate the feast of Diwali, also know as Deepavali, or “cluster of lights,” on Nov. 1. The celebration lasts three days and marks the start of a new year; family reconciliation; and worship of God.