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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Catholics and Muslims, working together to serve others

Vatican City, 13 November 2014 (VIS) – The third seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum was held in Rome from 11 to 13 November, on the theme “Working Together to Serve Others”. Three specific issues were considered: working together to serve young people, enhancing interreligious dialogue, and service to society.

The Catholic delegation was headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, co-ordinator of the Muslim side, was unable to attend the event for health reasons. The assembled participants sent him a message expressing their good wishes. The Muslim delegation was therefore headed by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

The delegates acknowledged many examples across the world of active Catholic-Muslim collaboration in educational, charitable, and relief efforts. After the presentations of the papers and the discussions, which ensued in a cordial and fraternal atmosphere, the participants agreed on the following points:

1. The delegates recognised that their gathering took place in a time of severe tension and conflict in the world, underlining the vital importance of enhanced service and mutual cooperation. In this context the delegates unanimously condemned acts of terrorism, oppression, violence against innocent persons, persecution, desecration of sacred places, and the destruction of cultural heritage. It is never acceptable to use religion to justify such acts or to conflate such acts with religion.

2. The education of young people, be it in the family, school, university, church or mosque, is of the utmost importance for the promotion of a well-rounded identity which builds respect for others. To this end, school curricula and textbooks should portray an objective and respectful image of the other.

3. The participants affirmed the importance of the culture of interreligious dialogue for deepening mutual understanding. This is required to overcome prejudice, distortions, suspicions, and inappropriate generalisations, all of which damage the peaceful relationships we all seek.

4. It was felt that dialogue should lead to action, particularly among young people. The participants encouraged Christians and Muslims to multiply opportunities for encounter and cooperation on joint projects for the common good.

On Wednesday, 12 November, Pope Francis received the participants in audience, encouraging them to persevere on the path of Christian-Muslim dialogue, and he expressed his approval of their shared commitment to the selfless service of society.

Finally, the delegates expressed their satisfaction at this fruitful encounter and their hopes for the next meeting of the Forum.

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