Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christian, Muslim leaders vow to 'walk hand in hand' to promote peace      
            Holding the third Christian-Muslim Summit in Rome between December 2 and 4, the leaders said that while more and more women are involved in high-level dialogues, there is still much to be done, including recognizing that "women play a key role in peacebuilding." The Catholic, Sunni and Shiite delegations at the summit each included one woman scholar; the Anglican delegation included two women clergy and two female scholars.
            "Enough is enough. We are brothers in Abraham, we speak different languages, we live in different parts of the world," but Christianity and Islam both teach that "humanity is one family" and religious leaders have an obligation to resist attempts to divide brothers and sisters with violence, said Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington.
            Bishop Chane spoke December 4 at the final, public session of the summit, which concluded with a "call to action" that also included pledges: to travel together to areas affected by severe violence as a sign to their followers that Christianity and Islam are religions of peace; to focus more attention on equipping young people to live with respect for other faiths; and to promote collaboration among Catholic, Anglican and Muslim aid agencies.
            Shahrzad Houshmand, an Iranian member of the Shiite delegation and professor of Islamic studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said she was listened to and her ideas were welcomed by the group. "In such a troubled world, what we accomplished in these three days was not small," Houshmand said.
            Cardinal Tauran, who also participated in the first summit in Washington in 2010 and the second in Beirut in 2012, said Catholic-Muslim dialogue "is not so easy today," especially when such ferocious violence is enflaming Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. "For many years, we have practiced dialogue face to face," the cardinal said. "Now we have to walk hand in hand."
            Pope Francis met the summit participants December 3 and told them personal visits "make our brotherhood stronger. I thank you for your work, for what you do to help us understand each other better and, especially, for what you do for peace. Dialogue: this is the path to peace."
            The declaration was signed by Bishop Chane, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad of Iran.

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