Fourth Colloquium between The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and The Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
Inaugural remarks: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
3-4 May 2016
Your Royal Highness Prince El-Hassan bin Talal, Dear Friends,
I am pleased to warmly welcome you to this fourth colloquium between the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Muslims and Christians, we believe that God takes care of us, guides us with strength and suavity on the ways of truth and of charity. This is why we elevate to Him our thankful and loving thoughts.
We are also grateful to God for the excellent relations existing between our respective institutions, especially among those who have been entrusted of the organization of this event, Dr Majeda Omar, Director of RIIFS, along with her staff, and Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, Bureau Chief for Islam. It is obvious that the ‘Jordanian link’ helped an easy and fruitful collaboration.
Our meeting is a sign of hope in a troubled world, who risks losing hope because of the many and profound crisis it is going through: economic, financial, environmental, etc. Besides, there is much violence, many armed conflicts, diabolic terrorism, especially the one committed in the name of religion. There is also and because of all this, a crisis of hope, in particular among the youth.
Fortunately, there is not only the negative side of the medal: there are, thanks God, many and fundamental values we share amongst us, as believers of Christianity and of Islam, but also with believers belonging to other religious traditions, and finally with women and men of good will who do not profess any religion; we need to be as inclusive as we can!
The values we share are a treasure and they are present in social and political life, as the subject of our colloquium states. I intend in particular righteousness, common sense, wisdom, coherence, credibility, care for the poor and the needy, compassion mercy, thrive for justice, peace, care for the environment and for the common good, refusal of extremism and violence.
In society, as we will see, we are both citizens and believers. We thrive to inspire our respective societies with the human and religious values we have. From a Christian point of view, this excludes the establishment of a State based on religion, because we believe in the autonomy of both politics and religion, and at the same time, in their collaboration for the common good. This implies a real democratic system.
The second sub-theme entitled “Our shared values and respective particularities” stresses several characteristics of our dialogue; Truth. Awareness of our similarities and gratefulness to God for them; we do not under-value or hide our diversities. This is true, in particular, for theological issues, that are not in any case on our agenda. Besides truth, there is charity as fundament – rukn – of dialogue.
The last document published by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue – Dialogue in Truth and Charity. Pastoral Orientations for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City 2014 – illustrates eloquently the necessity for both, truth and love, for a genuine and fruitful dialogue.
Your Royal Highness, The Esteemed Panel,
I am certain, that you agree with me that, as believers, we are exposed to the ‘examination of the poor’. Our credibility depends much on how we treat, based on our religious values, the weak members of our societies. Words are not sufficient. Action is needed. At this regard, Saint John addresses the first Christians: “If anyone is well-off in worldly possessions and sees his brother in need but closes his heart to him, how can the love of God be remaining in him? Children, our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine.” (1 John 3, 17-18).
At this regard, Pope Francis is giving us continued and eloquent examples of effective charity, especially towards the refugees. His recent visit to Lesbos in Greece and his meeting with the refugees there, say more much than words.
While we meet in Rome, the center of Christian Catholicity, enjoying peace and security, our thoughts are, with pain and prayers, with all who suffer in our times from discrimination, persecution, poverty and violence of all kinds. We are particularly concerned about the situation in Middle East, especially in Syria and in Iraq, where to suffer much, are the little communities as per figures, although present in their respective countries since long centuries.
I hope and pray that we will have fruitful time together, listening and speaking to each other in friendship and openness.
I also hope that we will be able to bring the fruits of our dialogue further than the walls of this hall: to the larger public possible, to the media, to the curricula, to the law makers and to priests and imams in their quality of educators of their respective communities.
Why not dream a better world? Why not work hard to try to make our dreams a reality? God helps those who help themselves!