AL-AZHAR, VATICAN COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON CONFRONTING PHENOMENA OF FANATICISM

AL-AZHAR, VATICAN COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON CONFRONTING PHENOMENA OF FANATICISM

The Joint Committee of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue held a symposium at Al-Azhar University in Cairo on February 22-23 entitled, “The Role of Al Azhar Al-Sharif and the Vatican in Confronting the Phenomena of Fanaticism, Extremism and Violence.”

At the conclusion of the two-day symposium, the conferees issued the following statement:

In the framework of the joint cooperation between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the two Councils held a symposium at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Cairo in the period between 22th and 23th of February 2017 titled: “The Role of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and of the Vatican in Confronting the Phenomena of Fanaticism, Extremism and Violence.”

Representatives of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue participated in the symposium. (photo: http://en.abouna.org/)

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The symposium was started by a speech of Professor Abbas Shauman, Deputy Al-Azhar, and Professor Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, Head of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and a member of the Authority of Senior Scholars. Also, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran delivered a speech.

The speeches of the symposium were delivered over two days. The participants presented six research papers, in Arabic and English, on the following points:

  1. First point: Fanaticism, its causes and ways to counter it.
  2. Second point: Extremism, its causes and ways to counter it.
  3. Third point: Violence, its causes and ways to counter it.

The symposium concluded with the following recommendations:

  1. The symposium recommends the significance of dialogue between Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue and activating the common human values to counter fanaticism, extremism and violence.
  2. The symposium recommends the importance of respecting the religious diversity.
  3. The symposium stresses the necessary of addressing causes of the phenomena of extremism, violence, poverty, ignorance and the political abuse of religion and incorrect understanding of religious texts.
  4. The symposium recommends the necessity of paying attentions to the issues that concern young people, opining dialogue channels with them, explaining correct concepts ordained by religions, training them and developing.
  5. The symposium reaffirms paying attentions to education curriculum that establish the common human values, taking into consideration women and youth issues and bearing the responsibility of caring for children.
  6. The symposium stresses the values of mercy, love and respecting other official values in countering extremism, violence and intolerance.
  7. The symposium stresses the necessary of difference management. Diversity in faith or sect does not mean to negate peaceful coexistence.
  8. The symposium stresses the importance of cooperation between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue in terms of promoting coexistence and communication with the decision makers to cooperate in the areas of security and development.
  9. The symposium confirms the position adopted by Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue to consider dialogue as a basis for the relations between peoples, individuals, civilizations and religions in order to establish peace, security and stability. The symposium also rejects all forms of fanaticism, extremism and violence.
  10. We recommend that such symposium and meetings between Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for inter-Religious Dialogue for clearing any misconceptions and confirming the values of tolerance and easiness among the followers of religions.
  11. The symposium recommends all the international governments, organizations and authorities to cooperate with each other in countering extremist and violent groups. These groups have negatively impacted stability and peaceful coexistence among peoples.
  12. Assisting the call to alleviate violence and stress among the followers of religions in many countries of the world and eliminating the phenomenon of developing the spirit of hatred and animosity for religions and defaming religious symbols, since these are some hostile actions.
  13. Establishing serious cooperation to counter, in a realistic and applicable way, terrorism and terroristic organizations; working on drying their resources, stopping giving them supplies of money and weapons, closing the gates to the social communications before them in order to protect young people from its devastating ideologies.      (FROM: http://en.abouna.org/)

 

POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS – POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY – CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

Pope Francis tweeted today: Do not underestimate the value of example, for it is more powerful than a thousand words, a thousand “likes”, retweets or YouTube videos.

POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received his long-time friend from his native Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on Thursday, along with a delegation of Jewish leaders involved in the preparation of a new edition of the Torah.

The annotated, illustrated edition is already being hailed as an achievement in both the literary and visual arts. (photo: news.va)

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Pope Francis told his guests, “The extensive introduction to the text and the editor’s note emphasize this dialogical approach and communicate a cultural vision of openness, mutual respect and peace that accords with the spiritual message of the Torah.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The important religious figures who have worked on this new edition have paid special attention both to the literary aspect of the text and to the full-colour illustrations that add further value to the publication.”

Also in his remarks, Pope Francis spoke of the Torah as a building-block of community – the worldwide Jewish community and the Christian community. “The Torah,” said the Holy Father, “manifests the paternal and visceral love of God, a love shown in words and concrete gestures, a love that becomes covenant.”

“The very word covenant is resonant with associations that bring us together. … This publication is itself the fruit of a ‘covenant’ between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.”

The Pope went on to say, “God desires a world in which men and women are bound to him and as a result live in harmony among themselves and with creation. In the midst of so many human words that lead to tragic division and rivalry, these divine words of covenant open before all of us paths of goodness to walk together.”

POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY

BEFORE THE GENERAL AUDIENCE WEDNESDAY, in a small room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received thirty relatives of the victims of the attack that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 1, 2016 accompanied by Bishop Valentino di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo, Italy.

POPE FRANCIS ON WEDNESDAY RECEIVED A SOCCER JERSEY embossed with the words (in Italian) “Let’s give a kick to bullying” on the front and “Papa Francesco” on the back. He was given the jersey by Stefano Roma, director of the San Cesareo Sporting Club in Rome. The campaign aims to shine the spotlight on the phenomenon of bullying in the world of sports and teach young people about its effects. The club initiative, supported by the region of Lazio, hopes to get its message across through a series of events, in which psychologists and experts speak to young sports aficionados about bullying and how to prevent it.

THE HOLY FATHER BLESSED THE “BENEDICTINE TORCH OF PEACE” which, since 1964 – the year St. Benedict was named a patron of Europe – has been sponsored by the city of Norcia to promote unity and peace in Europe. This year, the Torch is helping to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established what is now the European Union. The Pope greeted a delegation that included Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia, Father Donato Ogliari, abbot of Montecassino, and Father Mauro Meacci, abbot of Subiaco,.

FRANCIS MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION NAVAL FORCE MEDITERRANEAN (EUNAVFOR Med)  –  known as Operation Sophia – which has been tasked to stop people being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea. The officers gave Pope Francis a commemorative plate reading “Operation Sophia – a message of hope in the central Mediterranean.” The Pope has often called for more action to save migrants attempting the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean.

POPE FRANCIS GREETED MEMBERS OF THE RONY ROLLER CIRCUS which presented a short performance at the end of the general audience. Acrobats, fire-breathers, dancers, and other performers entertained the Holy Father and all those present in St. Peter’s Square. Speaking of the cuff, the Holy Father thanked them, saying “You make something beautiful! Beauty carries us to God. It is a path that arrives at God. Continue to make beautiful things! Continue to make good things for all of us! Thank you!”

According to the Washington Examiner, Senator Tim Kaine, former Democratic nominee for vice president, on Wednesday met with Pope Francis in Vatican City to discuss the millions of refugees from countries in the Middle East and North Africa who have fled their countries as a result of unrest in the region. “I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate.” (JFL: They met in St. Peter’s Square after the audience. The article also mentioned that Kaine  “met with Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.” His title is Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

This is an interesting story done by the English language staff for Africa at Vatican Radio about Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka diocese in Nigeria. His words should echo well beyond Nigeria – and we see that “fake news” is not limited to politics or to the United States.

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Catholic media professionals and practitioners have been called upon to brace themselves for the challenges brought about by social media and stand ready to counter false publications about the Church.

The call was made by the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)’s Episcopal Chairman of the Directorate of Social Communications, Godfrey Onah. Bishop Onah made the remarks when he addressed staff of the Directorate during their first statutory meeting for the year 2017, in Abuja, recently.

According to Bishop Onah, “Today in social media there is anonymity, and with the anonymity of the Internet people do a lot of harm: A lot of harm by spreading falsehoods, not just half-truths but falsehoods. And what makes it more dangerous is that young people now depend on this form of information than on (information from) the classroom or the Church,” he said.

Bishop Onah noted that social media had weakened the authority of traditional systems of education saying, “parents no longer know what their children know; teachers no longer know what their students know in the sense that it is not what you taught (because) the person is picking up information from everywhere.” Describing this situation as a great challenge, Bishop Onah contended: “We are to ask ourselves how we rise to meet this problem with regard to Christian faith, and the Catholic faith. It’s a big problem,” he emphasised.

The Church should stand ready to address untruths.

“I think the challenge we have to face constantly is how to respond to this provocation, if I may call it that, and use the media available in a way that is suitable to our own mission and apostolate. It’s not an easy assignment. It requires continuously reinventing ourselves and having the courage of departing from the way we have always done things. There are risks involved, but they are necessary risks that we must take.”

Bishop Onah noted that members of the Catholic Media Practitioners (CAMP), which is to be re-inaugurated nationally in Port Harcourt later this year, would be expected to champion the cause of the Church in countering false publications in the social media against the Church and the Catholic faith.