Muslims, Catholics Join to Promote Peace

Annual Meeting Ends With 8 Conclusions

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ROME, FEB. 26, 2009 ( Muslims and Catholics have much in common when it comes to beliefs about peace, decided participants at an interreligious meeting: Both faiths consider that peace should permeate all aspects of life.

This was a conclusion from the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Cairo-based Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue Among the Monotheistic Religions. The group had their annual meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The seven-member group, led by Cheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata as head of the al-Azhar delegation, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Catholic delegation, gave eight conclusions in their final statement today.

«Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity,» they affirmed. «Both Christians and Muslims consider peace a gift from God and, at the same time, the fruit of human endeavor. No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.»

The committees went on to affirm that religious leaders of both faiths «have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.»

And they contended that a «culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.»

Kids and the press

The Muslim-Catholic group also affirmed that the media has a key role in «the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.»

And they acknowledged that there is a strong link between peace and human rights, such that «special attention was given to the defense of the dignity of the human person […] especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.»

The religious leaders said that youth need «special care» to be protected from violence and fanaticism so that they become «peace builders for a better world.»

Finally, the delegations had a word to say about the Middle East.

«[T]he participants,» they said, «in respect of the competence of the political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice.»

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