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Tuesday, September 23, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, heads the Holy See delegation to an inter-religious congress being held today and tomorrow in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Joining Cardinal Tomko are: Archbishops Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Tomasz Peta, archbishop of Astana; Msgr. Julio Murat of the Secretariat of State and Fr. Jozef Maj, S.J., of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

A declaration released previously on this meeting by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated: "It is well known to everyone that the Catholic Church favors inter-religious dialogue and, as Vatican Council II's Declaration 'Nostra Aetate' teaches, 'urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture'(n.2).

"In such a spirit, His Holiness John Paul II, in his 25 years of pontificate, has met numerous religious leaders with the aim of promoting in the world spiritual and moral values, thus favoring reconciliation and peace among peoples. Last year, in calling the representatives of the world's religions to Assisi, His Holiness repeated that 'it is a duty for religious persons and communities to repudiate, in the clearest and most emphatic fashion, violence, all violence, starting with that which pretends to cloak itself in piety, even to calling on the holy name of God to offend man. Offending man is, after all, an offense against God. There is no religious finality that can justify the practice of violence by man on man'.

"For this reason the Holy See expresses fervent hopes for the success of the Astana meeting, and hopes that it can contribute to promoting the peace and harmony of the human family, in respecting the rights of every person."


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