Interreligious Dialogue for Peace:
Promoting Peaceful Coexistence and Common Citizenship
His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), Vienna
26 February 2018
I greet you all most warmly. I am truly grateful for your kind invitation to participate as well as offer the Opening Speech at this meeting, but I regretfully am not able to be physically present to do so. Nonetheless, I am pleased to address you with these words.
As we know there are many who ask “Is interreligious dialogue really useful?”, not necessarily with bad intention, but with a lack of awareness. People engaged in interreligious dialogue, in some cases for many years, find themselves compelled to reply to this question clearly and directly to provide a needed clarification.
The theme of this meeting makes it evident that interreligious dialogue is aimed at peace-building through two principal means: promoting peaceful coexistence and supporting our common citizenship.
1. Peaceful Coexistence
Peace as we are all know cannot be promoted and safeguarded without commensurate justice.
In this regard, “Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom”, the four pillars of peace as mentioned in the memorable Encyclical Letter of Saint Pope John XXIII remain even today as valid and relevant.
In his Message for the World Day of Peace in 2003, Saint Pope John Paul II made reference to these pillars. In fact, his Message for the World Day of Peace in 2002 was titled “No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness.”
Indeed, building peaceful coexistence among us, requires that we also promote Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom.
Truth enjoys place of honour in all the religions. The recognition of this value in other religions as well by people of good will not belonging to a particular religion, is important for peaceful relations among all. In this regard, we are all called to promote a “culture of inclusivism”, as proposed by Pope Francis. We are called to be companions of every human person on the journey to Truth. The affirmation of the II Vatican Council Nostra aetate on the relation of the Catholic Church with other religions says, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”
Justice is a fundamental value for believers as well as persons of good will not professing any religion. Fostering justice among individuals, communities and nations is of paramount importance. Peace cannot be built without justice; this is why a just peace is a necessity.
Love is one of the key core values in all religions, but it is particularly characteristic of Christianity, which teaches that “God is love” (1 John4:7). Love of God and love of our brothers and sisters are two related commandments meaning that one cannot say that he loves God if does not love his neighbour or, worst, hates him or her; he or she then is not a sincere person (cf. 1 John2:20). Respect is the new name for love!
Let me bring to mind once again how Pope Francis insists in inviting believers and people of good will to a dialogue of friendship and respect. Love, well understood, is the summary of all that is required of a person. That is why Saint Augustine (354-430) said: “Love and do what you will.”
Freedom is the innate desire and the basic right of every person, community and peoples. Wars have been waged all through human history, either to subjugate others so as to deprive them of their liberty, or to once again regain this very freedom. In today’s world we are witnessing new forms of slavery in which the freedom of our brothers and sisters is stolen: human trafficking, forced labour, in particular of children, baby soldiers, sexual abuse, political and economic domination etc. We are called therefore to support those who struggle for their liberty, in every place where we encounter it.
2. Common citizenship
Common citizenship is based on God given equality of all citizens be it as rights and/or duties, regardless of ethnicity, religion etc. In this regard I quote Pope Francis in his address to the participants in a recent Conference on “Tackling violence committed in the name of religion”. He said, “We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions. Adherence to a particular religion does not confer additional dignity and rights upon individuals, nor does non-adherence deny or diminish them.” (2 February 2018)
Let us continuously engage ourselves, despite the differences of our religions and of our specific mission, to become promoters of peaceful coexistence and of common citizenship through interreligious dialogue!