.- Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a delegation from the Foundation for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Research and Dialogue, led by their president, Metropolitan Archbishop Damskinos of Adrianoupoli. Among the members of the delegation was also His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan.
In his address to the group the Pope, who as Cardinal Ratzinger was one of the foundation's founding members, thanked Metropolitan Damaskinos for his gift of the first fruit of their labors: a joint edition of the three sacred texts of the three monotheistic religions, in chronological order and in the original languages. "It was our first project," the Pope recalled, "to make a specific and positive contribution to dialogue between cultures and religions."
"Jews, Christians, and Muslims," he went on, "are called to recognize and strengthen the ties that bind us together. It was this idea that brought us to create the foundation, the objective of which is to discover 'the most essential and most authentic message that the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - can communicate to the 21st century world,' with the aim of giving a fresh impulse to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue through the joint discovery and communication of the elements in our respective spiritual legacies that contribute to reinforcing the fraternal bonds between our communities of believers."
"The rereading - for some people the discovery - of texts that are sacred to so many people enforces our mutual respect," said the Holy Father. "Men and women today await from us a message of harmony and tranquility, and the concrete expression of our shared will to help them realize their legitimate aspirations to live in justice and peace."
"The work of the foundation will contribute to raising ever greater awareness of all the aspects of the various cultures of our time that correspond to divine wisdom and serve the dignity of man. This will lead to greater discernment, and to a rejection of all usurpation of the name of God and denaturalization of man's humanity."
"Our respective religious traditions," Pope Benedict concluded, "underline the sacred nature of life and the dignity of the human person. ... We, with all men and women of good will, long for peace. For this reason I reiterate that inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and research are not an option, but a vital necessity of our time."