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Cardinal Calls to End Interreligious Violence

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Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, listens as Ayatollah Ahmad Iravani, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East, addresses a press conference in Washington in early March.  

30 Aug 2010 – By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the end of their monthlong Ramadan fast, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran encouraged Catholics and Muslims to work together in overcoming violence among followers of different religions.

Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said it was important that teachers and religious leaders work together to promote peace and harmony in their communities.

The message, released Aug. 27 at the Vatican, was issued in 31 different languages. It was addressed to Muslims around the world to mark the end of Ramadan on or around Sept. 10.

Cardinal Tauran noted that many believers of other religions, especially Christians, have been “spiritually close” to their Muslim neighbors during Ramadan and have engaged in “friendly meetings which often lead to exchanges of a religious nature.”

Unfortunately, violence among people belonging to different religious communities is an urgent concern in some parts of the world, the cardinal wrote.

Civil and religious authorities, he said, need to help remedy the root causes of this violence “for the sake of the common good of all society.”

Some problems that contribute to fomenting violence against believers include “the manipulation of religion for political or other ends; discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity; and divisions and social tensions” as well as ignorance, poverty and underdevelopment, Cardinal Tauran wrote.

Governments must safeguard and guarantee “the primacy of the law by ensuring true justice to put a stop to the authors and promoters of violence,” he said.

The cardinal said that, in February, representatives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar University in Cairo recommended that Catholics and Muslims work to promote “mutual forgiveness and reconciliation for a peaceful and fruitful coexistence; to recognize what we have in common and to respect difference as a basis for a culture of dialogue; and to recognize and respect the dignity and rights of each human being without any bias related to ethnicity or religious affiliation.”

He said they also recommended that countries enact just laws that guarantee the fundamental equality of all people and a philosophy of education in homes, schools, churches and mosques that promotes respect, dialogue and fraternity. Education, including textbooks, has “a decisive impact” on the worldview and formation of younger generations, the cardinal wrote.

“Thus we will be able to oppose violence among followers of different religions and promote peace and harmony among the various religious communities,” he wrote.