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Archbishop says religion aggravates Asian conflicts

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue President Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald has said that religious differences can aggravate conflicts in Asia, but are not their primary cause.

The Archbishop was one of 100 Catholic bishops and other Christian leaders and Muslim scholars who attended a meeting in Pasay City in the Philippines. The event was organised by Philippine religious leaders particularly concerned by violence fueled by radical Muslim groups on their country's southern island of Mindanao.

"The extremists, those who are violent, are few," Archbishop Fitzgerald told Vatican Radio on his return to Rome. "The majority of Muslims want peace, but they want peace with justice."

He said religion is not the cause of conflicts or wars, but rather a factor of conflict.

"The causes are political, economic or social. Difference of religion is a factor that strengthens this aspect of the conflict."

The Pasay City meeting concluded with a document in which the participants acknowledge their responsibility and faults, in particular, when they have not rectified prejudices that can sow discord. They also acknowledged that religions could be manipulated at times.

The text presents the "pillars of peace," put forward 40 years ago by Pope John XXIII in the encyclical Pacem in Terris - truth, justice, love and freedom - and adds two more: sincerity and prayer.


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Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
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