Dialogue, respect, mutual acceptance and the promotion of development and justice are the best ways to create positive relations between Christians and Muslims, said Francis Cardinal Arinze this weekend at a lecture, marking the 50th anniversary of the Knights of Saint Mulumba in Nigeria.
"Authentic dialogue demands that Muslims and Christians accept one another with all their similarities and differences in matters theological, moral and cultural. And respect for the other should follow,” said the cardinal in his lecture, titled "The Urgency of Promoting Christian- Muslim Collaboration."
“Only in mutual acceptance of the other and in the resulting mutual respect – made more profound by love – resides the secret of humanity finally reconciled," Cardinal Arinze said.
Quoting from the 1965 World Catholic Bishop Conference, the cardinal said one should extend respect and love to all, even to those who think or act differently in social and religious matters.
The cardinal said one must first properly understand another’s religion in order to develop dialogue with them.
“When Muslims and Christians come to know one another and learn to accept and respect one another, they are well poised to engage in … Christian-Muslim dialogue," he said.
He called for religious freedom, saying that it applies to both individuals and to religious communities.
“It includes both the right to practise and also the right to share the religion with others,” he said. “The exercise of this right should have no territorial boundaries. It applies to all countries whether they are predominately Christian or predominantly Muslim.
“A religion should not ask for religious freedom for its followers in one country, while denying the same right to other believers in a country where it is the majority religion. This is what reciprocity is all about," he said.
The lecture was attended by Nigeria’s Chief Justice, other Justices and a representative of President Olusegun Obasanjo.