Vatican greets Muslims, asks cooperation for peace

Vatican, Sep. 28, 2007 ( - As the Islamic observance of Ramadan comes to an end, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue has sent a message to the world's Muslims stressing the duty of all believers to bear witness to the Almighty. In his message, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran says that all believers, regardless of their faith, should share in "work in favor of peace, by showing respect for the convictions of individuals and communities everywhere through freedom of religious practice. " Enlarging on that theme, he calls for "doing everything one can to reject, denounce and refuse every recourse to violence which can never be motivated by religion, since it wounds the very image of God in man." Cardinal Tauran's message makes a special point of condemning terrorism, "which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred, to the detriment of mankind and of societies." The French cardinal argues that dialogue between Christians and Muslims is "the tool which can help us to escape from the endless spiral of conflict and multiple tensions which mark our societies." Cardinal Tauran, who had served for years under Pope John Paul II (bio - news) as the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States-- the rought equivalent of a Vatican foreign minister-- was appointed in June to head the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. His appointment appeared to reverse an earlier papal decision, announced in March 2006, to combine that Council with the Pontifical Council for Culture, with a single prelate heading both offices. Informed sources said that tensions with Muslims-- especially in the aftermath of a lecture by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) in Regensburg-- convinced Vatican officials that the office responsible for inter-religious talks should not be downgraded.

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