Sunday, March 19, 2006

Christians, Jews, Muslims must seek dialogue: Pope

Christians, Jews, Muslims must seek dialogue: Pope
Staff and agencies
17 March, 2006

Thu Mar 16, 11:00 AM ET

VATICAN CITY - Christians, Jews and Muslims must work together to promote peace and teach respect for religions and their symbols, Pope Benedict said on Thursday.

In reference to a wave of violence over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, but also to attacks in recent months on churches, mosques and synagogues in several countries, the Pope said religious leaders had a responsibility to "work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue."

"Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in the one God ... It follows, therefore, that all three monotheistic religions are called to cooperate with one another for the common good of humanity, serving the case of justice and peace in the world," he told a visiting delegation of the American Jewish Committee.

"This is especially important today when particular attention must be given to teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship," he said.

The Pope has condemned the cartoons, whose publication first in a Danish newspaper and later in other European papers sparked worldwide protests by Muslims who believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet.

But he also said violent protests against the perceived offence were wrong.

In the wake of the unrest, Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders agreed earlier this month to widen their two-way dialogue to involve Muslims.

David Rosen, director for inter-religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee and a member of the delegation that met the Pope, said reaching out to Islam was "the challenge of our time.

"We believe it‘s very difficult not only because it‘s hard to find moderate voices (in the Muslim world) but also because those voices, if they come forward, could be endangered by extremists," he said.

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