Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The final declaration of participants in the First Seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, which took place in Rome on November 4 – 6, 2008 on the theme: "Love of God, Love of Neighbour".
Each of the two sides in the meeting was represented by 24 participants and five advisers who discussed the two great themes of "Theological and Spiritual Foundations" and "Human Dignity and Mutual Respect". Points of "similarity and of diversity emerged, reflecting the distinctive specific genius of the two religions" the English-language declaration says.

1. "For Christians the source and example of love of God and neighbour is the love of Christ for His Father, for humanity and for each person" reads the first of the fifteen points of the declaration. "Love of neighbour cannot be separated from love of God, because it is an ex-pression of our love for God. ... Grounded in Christ's sacrificial love, Christian love is forgiving and excludes no-one; it therefore also includes one's enemies".
"For Muslims ... love is a timeless transcendent power which guides and transforms human mutual regard. This love, as indicated by the Holy and Beloved Prophet Muhammad, is prior to the human love for the One True God".

2. "Human life is a most precious gift of God to each person. It should therefore be preserved and honoured in all its stages".

3. Human dignity is derived from the fact that every human person is created by a loving God and has been endowed with the gifts of reason and free will, and therefore enabled to love God and others. On the firm basis of these principles, the person requires the respect of his or her original dignity and his or her human vocation. Therefore, he or she is entitled to full recognition of his or her identity and freedom by individuals, communities and governments, supported by civil legislation that assures equal rights and full citizenship.

4. "We affirm that God's creation of humanity has two great aspects: the male and the female human person, and we commit ourselves jointly to ensuring that human dignity and respect are extended on an equal basis to both men and women.

5. "Genuine love of neighbour implies respect of the person and her or his choices in matters of conscience and religion. It includes the right of individuals and communities to practice their religion in private and public.

6. "Religious minorities are entitled to be respected in their own religious convictions and practices. They are also entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subject to any form of mockery or ridicule.

7. "As Catholic and Muslim believers, we are aware of the summons and imperative to bear witness to the transcendent dimension of life, through a spirituality nourished by prayer, in a world which is becoming more and more secularised and materialistic.

8. "We affirm that no religion and its followers should be excluded from society. Each should be able to make its indispensable contribution to the good of society, especially in service to the most needy.

9. "We recognise that God's creation in its plurality of cultures, civilisations, languages and peoples is a source of richness and should therefore never become a cause of tension and conflict.
10. "We are convinced that Catholics and Muslims have the duty to provide a sound education in human, civic, religious and moral values for their respective members and to promote accurate information about each other's religions.

11. "We profess that Catholics and Muslims are called to be instruments of love and harmony among believers, and for humanity as a whole, renouncing any oppression, aggressive violence and terrorism, especially that committed in the name of religion, and upholding the principle of justice for all.

12. "We call upon believers to work for an ethical financial system in which the regulatory mechanisms consider the situation of the poor and disadvantaged, both as individuals, and as indebted nations. We call upon the privileged of the world to consider the plight of those afflicted most severely by the current crisis in food production and distribution, and ask religious believers of all denominations and all people of good will to work together to alleviate the suffering of the hungry, and to eliminate its causes.

13. "Young people are the future of religious communities and of societies as a whole. Increasingly, they will be living in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. It is essential that they be well formed in their own religious traditions and well informed about other cultures and religions.

14. "We have agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a permanent Catholic-Muslim committee to co-ordinate responses to conflicts and other emergency situations.

15. "We look forward to the second seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum to be convened in approximately two years in a Muslim-majority country yet to be determined".
The declaration concludes by affirming that all the participants "expressed satisfaction with the results of the seminar and their expectation for further productive dialogue".

Here is the final statement of the 11th colloquium of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society, which ended on December 17, 2008 in Rome. The theme of the Colloquium was "Responsibilities of Religious Leaders especially in Times of Crisis."
The Catholic and the Muslim participants agreed on the following:

1) The first and most important responsibility of religious leaders is one of a religious nature, according to their respective religious traditions, to faithfully fulfill them through teaching, good deeds and example, thus serve their communities for the glory of God.

2) Considering the role religions can and should have in society, religious leaders also have a cultural and social role to play in promoting fundamental ethical values, such as justice, solidarity, peace, social harmony and the common good of society as a whole, especially the needy, the weak, migrants and the oppressed.

3) Religious leaders have a special responsibility towards youth, who require particular attention so that they do not fall victim to religious fanaticism and radicalism, receiving rather, a sound education thereby helping them to become bridge builders and peace makers.

4) Taking into consideration that crises of diverse nature, including in interreligious relations, are possible, on a national or international level, religious leaders should learn to prevent, cope with and remedy these particular situations, avoiding their degeneration into confessional violence. This requires a mutual respect and reciprocal knowledge, both cherishing personal relations and building confidence and mutual trust, so as to be able to confront together crises when they occur.

The participants were honoured and pleased to be received by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who expressed his satisfaction and strong encouragement. The two sides agreed to hold the next colloquium in Tripoli within the next two years.

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