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Vatican Statement to Summit of Religions

"Open Houses Which Can Teach and Practice Dialogue"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the statement of Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the pontifical councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, to the World Summit of Representatives of the Great Religions. The summit will be held this Monday through Wednesday in Moscow.

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1. I have the honor and pleasure of uniting my voice to those of all the other members of the delegation of the Catholic Church, to thank his holiness Patriarch Alexy II and the Interreligious Council of Russia for this important initiative of a summit bringing together in this historic town representatives of the great religions of the world.

In this way we can share our common concerns at the beginning of this third millennium and affirm our common commitment to cooperate with renewed vigor in confident intercultural and interreligious dialogue at the service of an integral and solidary humanism.

Each person is called to find his place in the concert of nations, with the human fullness that sees its fulfillment in the religious dimension. Together, we wish to reaffirm before the statesmen and citizens of the world the irreplaceable role of religions in building societies that are more just where harmony and peace reign. We wish to restate here our common will to reinforce dialogue between religions, and also with civil and political authorities, each aware of their own responsibilities.

2. The growing phenomenon of globalization brings to the men and women of our time challenges that we wish to face with courage. The historical and cultural context, in rapid evolution, brings mutations of diverse orders that cause new behavior. Yet the fundamental objective remains ever the same: Build a city worthy of man.

To do this it is a matter of ensuring that the men and women of our time do not give in to indifference with regard to universal human values, and so we are attentive to all that can undermine their transmission. Among these values, of the first importance, is respect for human dignity, dignity of the whole person and of every person because, created by God, the human person is the foundation of life in society.

This implies respect for religious liberty as a constitutive right of the person. No authority should deny it, but has instead the duty to respect its affirmation and favor its peaceful exercise always and everywhere.

3. As religious leaders, we are today very concerned about the orientations of political systems primarily focused on economic power to the detriment of justice and solidarity, and about the crisis of values sweeping across entire swathes of the world's population, notably the young, posing serious questions for the future of humanity. The globalization of cultural models empty of humanizing values favors the loss of identity of entire sections of our societies, as they drown in the artificial uniformity of an economic model with universal pretensions.

From this the temptation of closing in solely on one's own identity is born: The feeling of injustice because of the absence of equitable repartition of wealth together with despair at a civilization losing its central tenets and ethical references, can lead to resentment and translate into acts of violence of various sort, including terrorism which we resolutely condemn with the words of Pope John Paul II: "Hatred, fanaticism and terrorism profane the name of God and disfigure the true image of man."

4. Faced with the shifts of fundamentalism which grow on the humiliation felt by some believers when states deprive them of their cultural and religious rights, the effects of communitarianism provoked by the malaise of some groups in this unbalanced world, and the risks of inhuman application of some developments in science and technology, we wish to sound an alarm bell: These too are challenges that require urgent, relevant, and fully human responses, under pain of a serious breakdown of our societies.

A number of countries are already in the phase of demographic suicide, and have seemingly lost the sense of life's sacred character and introduce in their legislation dispositions that deform marriage and destabilize the family, the basic cell of society, so opening the way to even more serious imbalances and a future clouded with threats.

5. For the European continent, Christianity has been a primordial factor of unity between peoples and their cultures. For two millennia, it has continuously promoted an integral vision of man and his rights and duties, and the history of a great number of nations witnesses to its extraordinary cultural fecundity. For its part, the Catholic Church is resolutely engaged in intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aware of the irreplaceable role of religions in the humanization of society, of their capacity to work at its heart as authentic leaven able to enrich the exchanges between people and their culture on the highest values without which man would become a wolf for man.

These values are the respect for the dignity of all men without exception, as creatures loved and wanted for themselves by God their Creator, in his image and likeness, the respect for the liberty of conscience and the right to freely and publicly practice religious worship, and the conscience of the universal destiny of man called to construct together a civilization of love in justice and in peace.

6. For millennia, religions have contributed notably to the development and safeguarding of the cultural patrimony of humanity. They require, recognizing their merit of a creative fecundity of culture, that responsible authorities everywhere ensure that sacred goods and monuments can continue to express their faith and live from them.

In a world of peaceful conviviality and exchange of cultural, material and immaterial riches, religions are open houses which can teach and practice dialogue, respect for the difference and the dignity of the whole person, the love of the truth, awareness of belonging to the one great family of peoples wanted by God and called to live under his watch in shared love. History shows that the Church, by her moral and religious teaching, for its part contributes actively and remarkably in the growth of social cohesion.

7. Desiring to honor the modern need of a just laicity of the state in all its religious and secular components, but wary of the reductive form of laicity behind some political trends, the Holy See reaffirms the disposition and ability of religions to contribute to building the community of men, in bringing particularly their assistance to remedy the challenge of social disaggregation and to give an ideal to the youth and a meaning to life and history.

My conclusion will be that of his eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad: "The crisis toward which globalization is leading humanity can only be avoided by common efforts of all believers and all people of good will in the domain of ethical formation of the person, the creation of a just foundation for coexistence of men" (Metropolitan Kirill, "L'Évangile et la liberté. Les valeurs de la Tradition dans la société laďque," Cerf, Paris, 2006, p. 239).

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Vatican, Religion, Summitt, Paupard, Culture, Dialogue

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