A statement released today by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue affirms that there is still space for dialogue with Muslims and that religions should never become heralds of violence.
With Sunday’s release of another ISIS video depicting the slaying of Christians, today’s statement notes, “The events of recent times cause many of us to ask: ‘Is there still space for dialogue with Muslims?’. The answer is: yes, more than ever.”
The statement says this is because, firstly, “the great majority of Muslims themselves do not identify with the current acts of barbarism.”
The Vatican council observed that today the word “religious” has come to often be associated with “violence,” but that “believers must demonstrate that religions are required to be heralds of peace and not violence.”
“To kill in the name of religion is not only an offense to God, but it is also a defeat for humanity.”
The statement quotes both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in condemning violence hiding behind religion.
“Unfortunately in recent days we have witnessed a radicalisation of community and religious discourse, with the consequent risks of increasing hatred, violence, terrorism and the growing and commonplace stigmatisation of Muslims and their religion,” the statement noted. “In such a context we are called upon to strengthen fraternity and dialogue.”
The statement says that “continuing to engage in dialogue, even when experiencing persecution, can become a sign of hope.”
It also calls for the courage to review family life, methods of teaching religion and history, and sermons.
Citing Pope Francis, the statement adds: “Any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace.” (K.N.)
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