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Cardinal's Address to Pope at Meeting With Muslims

"To Work Toward a New Symbiosis of Faith and Reason"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 27, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Cardinal Paul Poupard delivered to Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo Monday, when receiving leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

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Address of gratitude to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

By Cardinal Paul Poupard,
President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
and the Pontifical Council for Culture

Monday, Sept. 25

Most Holy Father,

In the name of all the participants in this meeting, I have the honor and the privilege to express to you our deep gratitude for these precious moments which you have given us to share with Your Holiness at this particularly significant time.

The highly qualified representatives of the nations who surround me, with the members of the Islamic Consulta in Italy, and the representatives of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, witness, by their presence, to the continued relevance of the message which -- at the beginning of your pontificate -- you addressed to the representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne "at these particularly difficult times in our history": "There is plenty of scope for us to act together and feel united in the service of fundamental moral values" in mutual respect and reciprocal understanding.

And, speaking with conviction, you added: "Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. ... Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends."

The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue, over which you have asked me to preside, for their part make their contribution, by joining their efforts with all the people of good will, of whom you have before you a significant representation this morning.

"Res nostra agitur" [Our issue is being dealt with], used to say the ancient Romans. And the Romans of today have reaffirmed these words in the last few days at the Capitol, the common home of this age-old city of meetings. Together we have a past to make our own, and a future to prepare, by sharing, according to our respective references to Abraham, our faith in the One God and our respect toward the human person, created in his image and likeness.

Gathering together the fertile heritage of your predecessor Pope John Paul II of venerated memory, messenger of God and pilgrim of peace across the nations, you call us all, at the dawn of this new millennium, to work toward a new symbiosis of faith and reason in a trusting and peaceful dialogue between religions and cultures which have within them, at the very heart of their differences, the testimony of the human person's specific openness to the highest mystery, the mystery of God.

Most Holy Father, through this meeting we are happy to testify that your message of love and peace has been heard and we pray to God who is merciful and full of compassion to help us, in the respect for our differences, to put that message into practice.

[Translation issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue]


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