Pope proposes dialogue to fix religious conflicts

Pope Benedict XVI called on Jews, Christians and Muslims to work together to promote peace and justice in the world, and he urged religious leaders to lead the way by reconciling conflicts and divisions through dialogue and solidarity.

Catholic News Service reports that in a speech to members of the American Jewish Committee yesterday, the pope underlined the "rich common patrimony" that "distinguishes our relationship as unique among the religions of the world," he said.

Christianity acknowledges God's relationship with Israel as the beginning of salvation history, and the pope reminded his audience that the Catholic Church "can never forget that chosen people with whom God entered into a holy covenant."

But Judaism and Christianity also share a unique trait with Islam in that they all believe in one God as creator of heaven and earth, he said.

"It follows, therefore, that all three monotheistic religions are called to cooperate with one another for the common good of humanity, serving the cause of justice and peace in the world," said the pope.

He emphasised the importance of religious leaders spearheading such efforts since they "have a responsibility to work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue and acts of human solidarity."

The pope said such cooperation is especially urgent today because greater attention needs to be given to "teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship."

The committee's international director of inter-religious affairs, Rabbi David Rosen, said the group has "lots of bilateral contacts" with Muslim groups. But he said the level of dialogue and exchange is "low key and behind the scenes" because Muslim leaders risk being criticised for associating with Jews.

In meetings with Vatican officials, committee members asked the Vatican to take the lead in creating a trilateral commission of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The rabbi said if such a committee became a Vatican initiative that Jewish and Muslim leaders could join, then "no one in the Muslim world would think of accusing (the Muslims engaged in dialogue) of being part of a Jewish conspiracy."

Pope urges religious leaders to reconcile conflicts with dialogue (Catholic News Service 16/3/06)

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17 Mar 2006