Pontiff Backs Muslim-Christian Meeting

Cardinal Tells Participants About Way of Peace

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By Inmaculada Álvarez

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says he is hoping that a meeting between Christians and Muslims will give rise to a renewal in mutual commitments and dialogue.

The Pope said this in a telegram sent by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to a meeting sponsored by the Catholic lay Focolare movement. The conference is focused on “Love and Mercy in the Bible and in the Koran.» The meeting has gathered at Castel Gandolfo some 200 Muslims and Christians since last Thursday.

The telegram expressed the Holy Father’s hope that the conference «gives rise to renewed cordial resolutions of fraternity and sincere commitments, in favor of mutual dialogue in respect of every human person’s dignity.»

The Pontiff invokes «the most high and merciful God to continue always guiding the steps of humanity on the path of justice and peace.»

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, addressed the conference participants on the first day, focusing on the potential for interreligious dialogue to bring people among peoples.

The cardinal explained that interreligious dialogue «does not attempt to establish, with a reductive and syncretistic criteria, a minimalist common base of religious truths.» Rather it «recognizes that everyone in search of God or the Absolute has the same dignity.»

There is, Cardinal Tauran contended, «thanks above all to Muslims […] a return of religion to the world scene, as an essential contribution to structuring the international society of the 21st century, even more than the ideologies of the 20th century.»

«The world today cannot understand itself without religions,» he said. Nevertheless, precisely because of this, religions need to «not become a source of fear, something which happens, unfortunately, because of exasperated fundamentalism.»

«It is a fact that today, people kill for religious motives, but it is not religion that makes war,» Cardinal Tauran stated. «From here is born the need to place the message of religions at the service of a project of sanctity.»

Dialogue between religions, he concluded, should be considered «almost like a pilgrimage,» since «when one dialogues with a follower of another religion, it is necessary to take the attitude of one who embarks on a path with him, and takes into consideration convictions about the great questions that confront every person, which are distinct from one’s own.»

«It is not,» the cardinal clarified, «one’s own faith that has to be questioned, but rather the way of living it in daily life.»

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