ASIA/TURKEY - A Ramadan of “peace and brotherhood among religious communities”
Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) – Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Turkey have called for a "Ramadan of love, peace, and brotherhood among religious communities," launching an appeal to all believers for tolerance and pluralism. The message, as reported by local sources of Fides, was issued during an event held in recent days for marking the beginning of Ramadan 2010, organized by the "Marmara Foundation, a non-governmental organization operating in Turkey for 25 years, active on cultural, social, and religious levels.
The Foundation brought together leaders of different religious communities in Turkey, who shared an evening meal for breaking the Iftar, the daily fast that Muslims observe during Ramadan. The event was attended by Ali Bardakoglu, President of the Ministry for Religious Affairs, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, Apostolic Nuncio in Turkey, Chorepiscopus Bishop Yusuf Sag, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Catholic community, Bishop Yusuf Cetin, Metropolitan of the Syriac Church, Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Armenian Patriarchal Vicar, and Izak Haleva, the Chief Rabbi Jewish community.
Ali Bardakoglu, greeting those present and the communities they represent, stressed the importance of fasting, which he said "is not only abstaining from food and drinks" but it is also "refocusing your heart on spiritual things, amidst the many questions presented by modern life." The President then expressed his hope that the meeting of the leaders of the three monotheistic religions in Turkey, which is focusing on dialogue, friendship, and sharing, could be a sign for the country and for the entire world.
Those present remembered and expressed their appreciation for the recent signs of openness and dialogue on the part of the Turkish government towards religious minority communities, such as the Mass celebrated on August 15 at the ancient monastery of Sumela (in the region of Trebizond) and the possibility of celebrating another liturgical event in the church of St. Paul in Tarsus (which had been transformed into a museum) and also mentioned their hope for a more constructive atmosphere of dialogue and improved cooperation among religious communities and institutions in Turkey. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/08/2010)
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