Vatican City, Jan 19, 2004 / 22:00 pm
“Peace be with you!” were Pope John Paul’s opening words this morning in the Consistory Hall as he welcomed participants, including Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, in the just-concluded Ninth Congress of the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee.
“Your committee,” said the Pope speaking in English, “which facilitates communication between Christians and Muslims, was established during a time of great expectation for world peace. Unfortunately, this hope has not yet been fulfilled. In the face of the tragedies which continue to afflict humanity, it is all the more necessary to convince people that peace is possible. Indeed, it is a duty,” he said, citing his Message for World Day of Peace 2004.
“I encourage you, and all leaders of religions, to promote a culture of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect. Upon you all, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God!”
The committee, created in 1998, is comprised of representatives of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and of the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheist Religions.