By Robin Gomes
The Vatican is urging Christians and Muslims to “move from competition to collaboration”, saying rivalry between them has had negative consequences.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) made the exhortation in a message released on Friday on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and its conclusion, Id al-Fitr.
Competition harms relations
“A spirit of competition has too often marked past relations between Christians and Muslims, the negative consequences of which are evident: jealousy, recriminations and tensions,” said the message signed by Council president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and Secretary, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso.
They noted that “in some cases, these have led to violent confrontations, especially where religion has been instrumentalized, above all due to self-interest and political motives.”
“Such interreligious competition,” the Council said, “wounds the image of religions and their followers, and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence.”
Recognize common values, respect differences
To counter this “competition and confrontation”, the message called on Christians and Muslims to recognize the “religious and moral values they share” and respect their “ legitimate differences” in order to bring about an “effective cooperation for the common good.”
This particularly consists in helping those most in need, which allows Muslims and Christians “to offer a credible witness to the Almighty’s love for the whole of humanity.”
The Pontifical Council thus called on both communities to work together and honour each other in order to further peace and fraternal relations and promote harmony in society which is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural.
Earlier on Wednesday, Pope Francis also extended his “cordial wishes” to Muslims worldwide who on Thursday began Ramadan. He wished that this “privileged time of prayer and fasting help in walking the path of God which is of peace.”
Id al-Fitr, that marks the end of Ramadan, will be marked this year on June 15, but the date could vary from country to country depending on the sighting of the moon.
Please find below the full text of the PCID message:
FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Christians and Muslims:
From Competition to Collaboration
MESSAGE FOR THE MONTH OF RAMADAN AND ‘ID Al-FITR
1439 H. / 2018 A.D.
Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
In his Providence, God the Almighty has granted you the opportunity to observe anew the fasting of Ramadan and to celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue appreciates the importance of this month and the great effort by the Muslims throughout the world to fast, pray and share the Almighty’s gifts with the poor.
Mindful of the gifts prompted by Ramadan, we join you in thanking the Merciful God for his benevolence and generosity, and we extend to you our heartfelt best wishes.
The thoughts we would like to share with you on this occasion, dear Muslim brothers and sisters, concern a vital aspect of relations between Christians and Muslims: the need to move from competition to collaboration.
A spirit of competition has too often marked past relations between Christians and Muslims, the negative consequences of which are evident: jealousy, recriminations and tensions. In some cases, these have led to violent confrontations, especially where religion has been instrumentalized, above all due to self-interest and political motives.
Such interreligious competition wounds the image of religions and their followers, and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence.
To prevent and overcome these negative consequences, it is important that we Christians and Muslims recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences. By recognizing what we hold in common and by showing respect for our legitimate differences, we can more firmly establish a solid foundation for peaceful relations, moving from competition and confrontation to an effective cooperation for the common good. This particularly assist those most in need, and allows us to offer a credible witness to the Almighty’s love for the whole of humanity.
We all have the right and the duty to witness to the All-Powerful One we worship, and to share our beliefs with others, while respecting their religion and religious sentiments.
So that we may further peaceful and fraternal relations, let us work together and honor each another. In this way we will give glory to the Almighty and promote harmony in society, which is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural.
We conclude by renewing our best wishes for a fruitful fast and a joyful ‘Id, and assure you of our solidarity in prayer.
From the Vatican, 20 April 2018
Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran
Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I.