Vatican cardinal: peace among religions possible in Middle East

Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on August 29 2013 Credit Alan Holdren CNA CNA 8 29 13 Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on August 29, 2013. | Alan Holdren/CNA.

The cardinal who heads the Vatican's interreligious dialogue department said that religious differences in the Middle East do not necessitate violence.

"This is the place where the three monotheistic religions meet, and they have the possibility to build up society," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told CNA on Aug. 29. "The problem is when religion becomes politics."

Cardinal Tauran was secretary of the Vatican's nunciature to Lebanon from 1979 to 1983 and participated in special missions in Beirut and Damascus in 1986. He is currently president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

He explained that religion itself is not the source of the crisis in the Middle East, where different groups have violently clashed in recent weeks and months.

"When religion remains a spiritual option, then it is alright, but when you mix politics and religion, then the problems start," he stated.

He stressed the need to "teach the young generation" how to live together peacefully despite their religious differences, in respect, dialogue and peace.

The cardinal added that although people in the Middle East listen to the words of the Pope, they do not follow his proposals.

In recent days, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for dialogue between parties of the conflict in order to arrive at a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Maroun Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, spoke to Vatican Radio today on the visit of Jordan's king and queen.

He described it as "an opportunity to speak of peace in the Holy Land and Jordan, but especially in Syria, with all the threats that we are feeling."

"Jordan, despite being a small country, plays an important role for peace in Syria," said Archbishop Laham on Aug. 29.

"We hope that these big (countries) make peace instead of war, and find a peaceful solution and we hope that Jordan can play a positive role, joining the position of the Holy See," he added.

The archbishop stressed that "violence begets more violence" and cautioned against powerful nations seeking their own political and economic interests.

"We hope that the voice of reason, and for us the faith, will prevail and that the Syrian crisis find a political solution," he said.

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