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Priest says inter-religious fast opens way for soul-searching

As Christians and Muslims joined hands to pray on the lawns of Hobart's Parliament House on Saturday, Fr Michael Tate urged members of both faiths to draw upon their common tradition of fasting to foster the soul-searching Australia needs to work out its response to its refugee dilemma.

"As Muslims and Christians in Australia at the moment, we have so much in our tradition to call upon when confronting the great moral questions of Australian society," Fr Tate said.

"Who can deny Australia needs some soul-searching at the moment as it tries to work out how to respond to its moral and political obligations particularly to the refugees to whom we have such a special obligation as followers of Mohammed and Jesus, themselves refugees?"

Fr Tate was acting on Pope John Paul II's challenge to world religions to "prayerfully engage in actions to advance the cause of world peace", to urge Christians to undertake a Muslim Ramadan-style dawn-to-dusk fast during Lent.

To provide a focus for the call, pancakes (eaten traditionally on the eve of Lent - Shrove Tuesday) were cooked at Saturday's event, and served with lemon and sugar on the lawns of Parliament House.

The Acting Iman for Tasmania, Mr Sabri Samson, has enthusiastically endorsed the call and took part in today's event, explaining the Ramadan fast and praying for Muslims around the world who are being mis-treated.

In issuing the challenge for the strict fast Fr Tate reminded people that both Jesus and Mohammed were refugees; one as a child, the other as an adult.

Catholic Media (TAS)