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Vatican Appeals to Muslims for Dialogue
Sends Message at End of Ramadan

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Dialogue between Muslims and Christians "is more necessary than ever," said the Vatican's annual message to Muslims at the end of Ramadan.

In an unusual move, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, presented the note today in a press conference, together with the council's secretary, Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata.

The extra attention to this year's message shows the particular importance of the statement, as it comes in the wake of Benedict XVI's address in Regensburg, Germany, which caused a wave of protests in the Muslim world.

"The particular circumstances that we have recently experienced together demonstrate clearly that, however arduous the path of authentic dialogue may be at times, it is more necessary than ever," the cardinal wrote.

The document is entitled "Christians and Muslims: In Confident Dialogue Aimed at Solving Together the Challenges of Our World."

The message restated Benedict XVI's greetings to leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See, at the start of Ramadan. In that meeting the Holy Father confirmed his commitment to dialogue with Muslim believers.

Cardinal Poupard said in the message: "While contemplating and thanking God for all that is good, it is impossible not to take note of the serious problems which affect our times: injustice, poverty, tensions and conflicts between countries as well as within them.

"Violence and terrorism are particularly painful scourges. So many lives destroyed, so many women widowed, so many children who have lost a parent, so many children orphaned ... So many wounded, physically and spiritually ... So much, which has taken years of sacrifice and toil to build, destroyed in a few minutes!"

Addressing Christians and Muslims, he asked, "Are we not the first to be called to offer our specific contribution to resolve this serious situation and these complex problems?"


The cardinal continued: "Without a doubt, the credibility of religions and also the credibility of our religious leaders and all believers is at stake.

"If we do not play our part as believers, many will question the usefulness of religion and the integrity of all men and women who bow down before God."

"Genuine love for God is inseparable from love of others," he said, quoting Benedict XVI's encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est."

"True love must be of service to all the needs of daily life," stated Cardinal Poupard. "It must also seek just and peaceful solutions to the serious problems which afflict our world.

"The world has need, and so do we, of Christians and Muslims who respect and value each other and bear witness to their mutual love and cooperation to the glory of God and the good of all humanity."