Vatican City (Fides Service) – “Despite failure in peace initiatives we must continue to hope. Dialogue at all levels - economic, political, cultural, religious – will bear fruit. The trust of believers is founded not only on human resources but also on God almighty and all merciful. He is the light which illuminates every person. All believers know that peace is a gift of God and it has in Him its very source.” Pope John Paul II said this when he addressed participants at a Meeting of Internal Ministers of the European Union received in Audience on Friday 31 October. The meeting reflected on the theme: "Interreligious dialogue: a factor of social cohesion in Europe and a path for peace in the Mediterranean region".
The Pope recalled that “Europe, born of the encounter of different cultures with the Christian message, sees today within itself, because of immigration, a growing presence of different cultural and religious traditions. Not lacking are experiences of fruitful collaboration and present day efforts for intercultural and interreligious dialogue reveal prospects for unity in diversity which are promising for the future. This does not exclude adequate recognition, also legislative, of the specific religious traditions in which each people is rooted, and with which it often identifies itself in particular. Guarantee and promotion of religious freedom are the test of respect for the other rights and this is realised through prevision of adequate juridical discipline for the different religious confessions, as a guarantee of their respective identity and freedom .”
Continuing his address the Pope affirmed that “recognition of a society’s specific religious patrimony demands the recognition of its qualifying symbols. If, in the name of incorrect interpretation of the principle of equality, the expression of these religious traditions and connected cultural values were to be renounced, fragmentation of today’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies could easily become a factor of instability and therefore of conflict. Social cohesion and peace cannot be reached by eliminating the religious characteristics of any people.”
Lastly the Pope recalled recent initiatives for peace with participants of many religions. In particular the Day of Prayer for Peace on 24 January 2002, at the end of which the participants issued a final declaration committing themselves to uproot terrorism; defend the right of every person to a worthy existence in keeping their own cultural identity and to form their own family in freedom; sustained by common efforts to eliminate egoism, aggression, hatred and violence.(S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 3/11/2003 – lines 30; words 449)