The participants at the Vatican meeting said Muslims and Christians share principles which help to form a peaceful society

Catholic and Muslim leaders meeting in Rome said religion can humanise and civilise communities when followers adhere to their faith’s teachings about loving God and your neighbour.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Amman-based Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies held their fourth colloquium on May 3-4 and examined “shared values in social and political life” from the perspective of Christians and Muslims.

Pope Francis met with the participants on May 4. He said his visit to Jordan in 2014 was “a beautiful memory that I carry with me”.

He praised the participants’ dedication to the constructive path of dialogue, especially at a time when “we have become used to the destruction caused by wars”.

Dialogue involves stepping outside oneself and listening to the other, the Pope said in his brief remarks. “It is the first step of a journey. Following this meeting of the word, hearts meet and begin a dialogue of friendship, which ends with holding hands. Word, hearts, hands. It’s simple! A little child knows how to do it,” Pope Francis said.

The participants released a written statement at the end of the dialogue meeting, agreeing on the need to recognise and guarantee the inalienable rights and dignity God has bestowed on everyone and to protect them with use of the law.

“We believe in the humanising and civilising role of our religions when their followers adhere to their principles of worshipping God and loving and caring for the other,” said the final statement, which was released at the Vatican this morning.

The participants said Muslims and Christians share many values, which “constitute a solid basis (for) peacefully and fruitfully living together, also with persons of goodwill who do not profess a particular religion”.

They pledged their solidarity with all those in need, regardless of their religious, ethnic or cultural background and they underlined that assistance “should be offered out of compassion” and “should never be used to proselytise”.

Expressing solidarity with victims of violence and armed conflict, the participants said that “respect for international law, dialogue, justice, mercy, compassion are values and adequate means to achieve peace and harmony”.

The Vatican delegation was led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the interreligious dialogue council, and included dialogue experts from Iraq, Syria, Algeria and Indonesia, as well as Anne Leahy, Canada’s former ambassador to the Holy See.

The Muslim delegation was led by Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal, chairman of the institute’s board of trustees, and included dialogue experts from Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

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Jan 20 2016 cover