Vatican statement on Ramadan: 'Christians and Muslims are called to be bearers of hope'

Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Aug. 2019 | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

The Vatican’s interreligious dialogue council released a statement Friday sending “fraternal good wishes” to Muslims for the month of Ramadan.

“We, Christians and Muslims, are called to be bearers of hope, for the present life and for the life to come, and to be witnesses, restorers and builders of this hope, especially for those experiencing difficulties and despair,” the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue stated in the message published April 16.

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, the head of the Vatican’s interreligious dialogue council, and Msgr Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, the council’s secretary, signed the message, “Christians and Muslims: Witnesses of Hope,” on March 29.

Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar of fasting, prayer, and acts of service. It began this year on April 13 and will last until May 12.

The Vatican statement acknowledged that the past year has been marked by “long months of suffering, anguish and sorrow, especially during the lockdown periods” in many countries.

“The divine assistance that we need and seek, especially in circumstances like those of the current pandemic, is manifold: God’s mercy, pardon, providence and other spiritual and material gifts,” it stated.

“Yet, what we need most in these times, is hope. At this time, then, we think it fitting to share with you some reflections on this virtue.”

Hope goes beyond optimism, the message explained, adding that hope has its basis in the truth that “God loves us and therefore cares for us through his providence.’

“Hope arises from our belief that all our problems and trials have a meaning, a value and a purpose, however difficult or impossible it may be for us to understand the reason for them or to find a way out of them,” it said.

The message said that human fraternity can be a source of hope, especially when people of different faiths show generous solidarity to one another in times of natural disasters, conflicts, or wars.

“Hope also carries with it belief in the goodness present in the heart of every person. Many times, in situations of difficulty and despair, help, and the hope it brings, can come from those whom we least expect,” it said.

The statement quoted a passage from Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, on hope.

“I invite everyone to renewed hope, ‘for hope speaks to us of something deeply rooted in every human heart, independently of our circumstances and historical conditioning,” Pope Francis wrote.

“Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our heart and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love … and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile’ (Gaudium et spes, 1). Let us continue, then, to advance along the paths of hope.”

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