Monday, March 2, 2009



VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was the final declaration of the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Vatican) and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions (Cairo, Egypt). The meeting was held in Rome on 24 and 25 February.

The English-language declaration explains that the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue - an institution established in 1998 - was jointly presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.

The theme of the meeting - "The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace with Particular Reference to the Role of Religions" - was presented from the Catholic point of view by Bernard Sabella, associate professor emeritus of sociology at Bethlehem University, and from the Islamic standpoint by Sheikh Ali Shahata.

A the end of the meeting the participants agreed on the following:

"1. Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity.

"2. ... No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.

"3. Religious leaders, especially Muslims and Christians, have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.

"4. A culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.

"5. The media have a major role and responsibility in the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.

"6. Recognising the strong link between peace and human rights, special attention was given to the defence of the dignity of the human person and his or her rights, especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.

"7. Youth, the future of all religions and of humanity itself, need special care in order to be protected from fanaticism and violence, and to become peace builders for a better world.

"8. Mindful of the suffering endured by the peoples of the Middle East due to unresolved conflicts, the participants, in respect of the competence of political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice".

The next meeting of the joint committee is due to be held in Cairo on 23 and 24 February 2010.

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