Made public yesterday was the annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. It bears the signatures of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council. The theme of the Message this year (1428 AH / 2006 AD) is, "Christians and Muslims: called to promote a culture of peace."
Extracts from the document are given below:
"In the troubled times we are passing through, religious believers have, as servants of the Almighty, a duty above all to work in favor of peace, by showing respect for the convictions of individuals and communities everywhere through freedom of religious practice. Religious freedom, which must not be reduced to mere freedom of worship, is one of the essential aspects of freedom of conscience, which is the right of every individual and a cornerstone of human rights. It takes into account the requirement that a culture of peace and solidarity between men can be built in which everybody can be firmly engaged in the construction of an increasingly fraternal society, doing everything one can to reject, denounce and refuse every recourse to violence which can never be motivated by religion, since it wounds the very image of God in man.
"We know that violence, especially terrorism which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred, to the detriment of mankind and of societies.
"As religious believers, it is up to us all to be educators of peace, of human rights, of a freedom which respects each person. No individual in the national community should be excluded on the grounds of his or her race, religion, or any other personal characteristic. We are particularly responsible for ensuring that our young people, who will be in charge of tomorrow's world, are formed in this spirit" providing "everyone an education appropriate to his or her particular circumstances, especially a civic education which invites each young person to respect those around him or her, and to consider them as brothers and sisters with whom he or she is daily called to live, not in indifference, but in fraternal care."
"In this spirit, the pursuit and intensification of dialogue between Christians and Muslims must be considered important, in both educational and cultural dimensions. Thus all forces can be mobilized in the service of mankind and humanity so that the younger generations do not become cultural or religious blocs opposed to one another, but genuine brothers and sisters in humanity. Dialogue is the tool which can help us to escape from the endless spiral of conflict and multiple tensions which mark our societies, so that all peoples can live in serenity and peace and with mutual respect and harmony among their component groups. This is the ardent hope I share with you: that Christians and Muslims continue to develop increasingly friendly and constructive relationships in order to share their specific riches, and that they will pay particular attention to the quality of the witness of their believers."