Golden Rule Suggested for Secularism

Says Theologian on Day of Islamic-Christian Dialogue

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ROME, OCT. 31, 2005 ( Secularism needs to be inspired by the golden rule present in all religions: “Do unto others as you would like done unto you,” says a theologian.

Monsignor Piero Coda, president of the Association of Italian Theologians, made that suggestion when speaking at the Valentini Palace, headquarters of the Provincial Council of Rome, last Friday, when the country observed a Day of Islamic-Christian Dialogue.

The monsignor said that secularism is not a new culture, “but the condition for the coexistence of all cultures. … More than a method, secularism expresses a content.”

“The situation in which we live compels us to acknowledge that the dialogue between religions has a precise civil meaning,” he asserted. Thus it is necessary to see in the other “a bearer of positive values,” the monsignor said.

For theologian and ecumenist Father Giovanni Cereti, a member of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, it is important to appreciate that, although public opinion sees “religions as causes of war and division,” in reality they are “sources of peace.”

The professor of ecumenism at the pontifical faculty Marianum called for further reflection on the Second Vatican Council declaration “Nostra Aetate” on the Church’s relations with the other non-Christian religions, published 40 years ago.

Avoiding extremism

Ivor Roberts, Britain’s ambassador to Italy, referred to his country’s plan to prevent terrorism and offered proposals to help mosques avoid extremisms.

In this connection, he requested the establishment of “laws that penalize incitement to religious and racial hatred and clearly affirm that the exaltation of terrorism is not a legitimate political expression.”

Speaking on behalf of Muslims was Abdellah Redouane, secretary-general of Italy’s Islamic Cultural Center.

He referred to diverse levels of dialogue and coexistence — “in fact, structural, political and international” — and stressed that at times “immigrants are the privileged center of xenophobia, which ends by rejecting coexistence, spreading only hatred, ignorance and even a sense of superiority.”

Protestant pastor Maria Bonafede, moderator of the so-called Waldensian Table, emphasized that the dialogue her comrades promote from their religious creed “is realized in coexistence and the building of meaning in relationships with one another.”

The Day of Islamic-Christian Dialogue ended with a guided tour of Rome’s Grand Mosque.

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