During his speech at the Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, said that conflict between the West and the Islam must not prevent Christians and Muslims from maintaining a productive dialogue aimed at achieving religious freedom throughout the world.
As one of the main speakers at the public session of the Conference, Cardinal Tauran, speaking in English, called the Qatar meeting “an eloquent witness to fraternity”.
“The sound of warfare, which is heard not far from us, will not prevent us from reflecting upon our responsibilities as believers, or from addressing a message of friendship to all those willing to accept it,” he added.
“Our meeting,” Tauran also said, “is first of all a meeting of believers. Since we acknowledge that we are children of the same God, we can accept our differences and together devote ourselves to the service of society, with respect for justice, moral values and peace.”
He went on to say that the meeting is “also a dialogue between believers belonging to two different religions. In order to avoid any syncretism or caricature of others, it is important that each person remain loyal to his or her own faith.” He quoted Pope John Paul II who on numerous occasions has highlighted the many things that Muslims and Christians have in common as “worshippers of God” and “seekers of God” and “believers in the same God.”
Tauran explained that the Catholic Church recognizes “the richness of your spiritual tradition,” but said that “we Christians, too, are proud of our religious tradition.”
Cardinal Tauran stated that “for this reason, freedom of conscience and of religion is important, even absolutely necessary.” “Religious freedom respects at the same time both God and man! It is absolute and reciprocal. It extends beyond the individual to the community; it has both a civil and social dimension.. Religious freedom thus understood and lived out can become a powerful factor for building peace.”
“Political leaders have nothing to fear from true believers,” he said. “Authentic believers are also the best antidote to all forms of fanaticism, because they know that preventing their brothers and sisters from practicing their religion, discriminating against a follower of a religion other than one’s own, or worse still, killing in the name of religion, are abominations that offend God and which no cause or authority, be it political or religious, can ever justify.”
Cardinal Tauran highlighted the need “to initiate a dialogue of trust between civil and religious authorities, so that the rights and the obligations of believers and their communities will be firmly established and guaranteed, with particular respect for the principle of reciprocity.”
“One cannot claim to obtain one’s legitimate rights and freedoms by tramping upon those of others!”
“Here in Doha,” he concluded, “all of us can, indeed we must, do our part in paving the way of fraternity and peace!”