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Cardinal Arinze says religion has key role in peace

Religion has an indispensable role to contribute in the promotion of justice and peace between peoples, Cardinal Francis Arinze told a conference in Tehran at the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is in the Iranian capital as the Pope's special envoy to the conference.

Excerpts from the cardinal's address, entitled "Christian-Muslim Collaboration in the Promotion of Justice and Peace," appeared in today's edition of the Tehran Times.

Cardinal Arinze, 68, said that Christians and Muslims account for more than half the world's population and, consequently, should be able to greatly promote justice and peace.

The Nigerian cardinal emphasized belief in God, and readiness to do his will, as the foundation for justice and peace.

"Human rights come from God," the cardinal said. "If a person ignores God, what guarantee is there that he will respect his neighbour?"

In the course of his speech, Cardinal Arinze referred to Paragraph 18 of the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, highlighting the fact that religious freedom is precious, and that religion should be proposed, but never imposed.