The funeral for Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died July 5 in the United States, will be this Thursday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica and I intend to be there.
I saw a news story from Iran today and thought it worth posting just to give you an idea of Cardinal Tauran’s place on the Vatican’s diplomatic stage and the esteem of the Muslim world for this Prince of the Church. That story follows.
In addition, there was a good piece in April from Il Settimo Cielo blog by Sandro Magister on the cardinal’s trip to Saudi Arabia that same month. I offer you that piece as well.
IRAN CONDOLES WITH VATICAN, CHRISTIANS ON CARDINAL TAURAN’S DEATH
(From editorial Staff at IFP – Iran Front Page)
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has expressed condolences on the demise of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the Roman Curia.
Zarif offered his condolences in a Monday message to his counterpart in the Vatican, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
“News of the passing away of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the Roman Curia, filled me with sadness and sorrow,” Zarif said.
“This erudite man, who was regarded as one the Holy See’s renowned scientific and religious figures, made every effort to boost solidarity among followers of all divine faiths and promote dialogue among religions without any religious bias, nescience and extremism,” he added.
“He was one of the far-sighted men who, by holding bilateral and international meetings, managed to establish continuous dialogue among leaders of different faiths, especially Muslim and Christian scholars,” the Iranian top diplomat noted.
Zarif finally expressed condolences to Gallagher and all Catholic Christians as well as the Christian community in Iran on Cardinal Tauran’s demise, and asked God Almighty to bestow peace upon his soul.
Cardinal Tauran, a former foreign minister of the Vatican and expert in interfaith relations, died on Thursday at the age of 75. He was the one who announced the election of Pope Francis to the world in 2013 with the famous phrase “habemus papam (we have a pope)”.
He had been in the United States, seeking treatment for Parkinson’s disease. He had the condition for years, but continued his globe-trotting diplomacy to improve the Vatican’s relations with the Muslim world.
In an unusually personal condolence message sent to Tauran’s sister Friday, Francis praised the cardinal’s “courageous” years of service to the Catholic Church “despite the weight of illness.”
WHAT HAD NEVER BEEN SAID IN SAUDI ARABIA. A FIRST FOR TAURAN
(From Settimo Cielo, blog by Sandro Magister – April 17, 2018)
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has been in the capital of Saudi Arabia since April 13, and will stay there until April 20, thereby repaying the visit made to the Vatican on September 20, 2017, by the secretary general of the Muslim World League, the sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa.
Welcomed by Prince Muhammad bin Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz, vice-governor of Riyadh, Cardinal Tauran gave at the headquarters of the Muslim League, during his meeting with the sheikh Al-Issa, an address without precedent in the history of relations between Christianity and Islam, not because of the things that were said but because of the place where they were pronounced.
It was in fact the first time that in Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Wahhabism, one of the most radical currents of Islam, a leading representative of the Catholic Church has spoken out in public and with clarity on capital questions like freedom of religion and equal rights for believers of all faiths.
Here is a brief anthology of the things that Cardinal Tauran said in Riyadh, printed in “L’Osservatore Romano” of April 17.
ON THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
“What is threatening all of us is not the clash of civilizations, but rather the clash of forms of ignorance and radicalism. What is threatening coexistence is first of all ignorance; therefore, to meet together, speak, build something together, are an invitation to encounter the other, and also means discovering ourselves.”
ON OPENING THE HOLY PLACES TO ALL
The cardinal recalled how the Christian sacred places, “in the Holy Land, in Rome or elsewhere, together with the numerous shrines in many parts of the world,” are “always open to you, our Muslim brothers and sisters, to believers of other religions, and also to every person of good will who does not profess a religion.”
Besides, he added, “in many countries the mosques are also open to visitors,” and this, he said, “is the kind of spiritual hospitality that helps us to promote mutual understanding and friendship, contrasting prejudice.”
ON THE TRUE MEANING OF MARTYRDOM
“Religion is the dearest thing a person has. This is why some, when they are called to choose between keeping the faith and remaining alive, prefer to accept paying a high price: they are the martyrs of all religions and of every time.”
“In all religions there are forms of radicalism. Fundamentalists and extremists may be zealous person, but unfortunately they have deviated from a solid and wise understanding of religion. Moreover, they consider those who do not share their vision as unbelievers who must convert or be eliminated, so as to maintain purity. They are misled persons who can easily go on to violence in the name of religion, including terrorism. They become convinced, through brainwashing, that they are serving God. The truth is that they are only hurting themselves, ruining the image of their religion and their coreligionists. This is why they need our prayer and our help.”
ON EQUAL TREATMENT AMONG ALL THE RELIGIONS
After clarifying that “religion can be proposed, never imposed, and then accepted or rejected,” Cardinal Tauran identified as one of the fields in which Christians and Muslims must be in agreement, seeing that “in the past there has been a great deal of competition between the two communities,” that “of common rules for the construction of places of worship.” In fact, all the religions must be treated in the same way, without discrimination, because their followers, together with the citizens who do not profess any religion, must be treated equally,” he remarked in referring to the always relevant theme of “full citizenship” for all. In part because “if we do not eliminate the double standards of our behavior as believers, religious institutions and organizations, we will foster Islamophobia and Christianophobia.”
ON THE CONDEMNATION OF TERRORISM BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS
“Spiritual leaders have a duty: to keep the religions from being at the service of an ideology, and to be able to recognize that some of our coreligionists, like the terrorists, are not behaving correctly. Terrorism is a constant threat, and because of this we must be clear and never justify it. The forms of terrorism want to demonstrate the impossibility of coexistence. We believe the exact opposite. We must avoid aggression and denigration.”
ON INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
“All authentic interreligious dialogue begins with the proclamation of one’s own faith. We do not say that all religions are equal, but that all believers, those who seek God and all persons of good will devoid of religious affiliation, have equal dignity. Everyone must be left free to embrace the religion that he wishes.” After this came the concluding appeal to join forces “so that God, who created us, may not be a motive of division, but rather of unity.”
POSTSCRIPT – On Wednesday, April 18, Cardinal Tauran also had a conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, with whom he again spoke on how the Christian and Muslim religions and cultures can work together in repudiating violence and terrorism and in promoting peace.
In confirmation of the top-level nature of the meeting, the king was accompanied by the interior minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdelaziz Al Saoud, the foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, and the secretary general of the Muslim World League, Sheik Muhammad Abdul Karim Al-Issa. With Cardinal Tauran (see photo) was Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue.
Previously, on Sunday, April 15, the cardinal had met and celebrated Mass with a sizable Catholic community made up mostly of immigrants from Asia.