VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions, was held in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo on 23 and 24 February.
At the end of the meeting Sheikh Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Wasil, "wakil" (representative in juridical issues) of al-Azhar and president of the Permanent Committee for Dialogue, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, signed a joint declaration.
The declaration explains how "the participants were received by Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, grand imam of al-Azhar, whom Cardinal Tauran thanked for having condemned the acts of violence in which six Christians and a Muslim policeman died in Naga Hamadi, Egypt, during the Orthodox Christmas, and for having expressed solidarity with the victims' families and reaffirmed the equality of rights and duties of all citizens, regardless of their religious confession. For his part, Sheikh Tantawi said he only did what he thought his duty in the face of those tragic events".
During its meeting the joint committee examined the theme: "The phenomenon of confessional violence: understanding the phenomenon and its causes, and proposing solutions with particular reference to the role of religions in this field".
At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed on the following recommendations: "to pay greater attention to the fact that the manipulation of religion for political or other ends can be a source of violence; to avoid discrimination on the basis of religious identity; to open hearts to mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, which is a necessary condition for peaceful and fruitful coexistence".
They also called "for similarities to be recognised and differences respected as the prerequisite of a culture of dialogue, based on shared values; for both sides again to commit themselves to recognising and respecting the dignity of each human being, without distinction of ethnicity or religion; for religious discrimination in all fields to be opposed (just laws should guarantee fundamental equality); for ideals of justice, solidarity and co-operation to be promoted in order to ensure a peaceful and prosperous life for everyone".
The participants likewise undertook "to oppose with determination any act that tends to create tension, division and conflict in societies; to promote a culture of mutual respect and dialogue through education in families, schools, churches and mosques, spreading a spirit of fraternity between all persons and the community; to oppose attacks against religions by social communications media, especially satellite channels, considering the dangerous effects these transmissions can have on social cohesion and peace among religious communities".
Finally, the members of the joint committee called for steps to be taken "to ensure that the preaching of religious leaders, as well as school education and textbooks, do not contains declarations or references to historical events that, directly or indirectly, may arouse violent reactions among the followers of different religions".
The joint committee also announced that its next meeting will be held in Rome on 23 and 24 February 2011.
.../CATHOLIC MUSLIM DECLARATION/AL-AZHAR VIS 20100302 (520)