Vatican-Iranian dialogue agrees on faith, reason, non-violence

April 30, 2008

Church tower and mosque minaret in AmmanPope Benedict was “particularly satisfied” with the topic of a meeting this week held between Vatican and Iranian specialists on inter-faith dialogue, according to a statement just put out by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. That shouldn’t be any surprise. The statement copied below shows his trademark topic — the compatibility of faith and reason — was prominent at the three-day session. He has been stressing this for years, with some success (as during his recent U.S. visit) and some misunderstanding (as in his Regensburg speech). With another Catholic-Muslim meeting due later this year, with delegates of the Common Word group, we can expect this issue to stay front and centre in inter-faith dialogue.

That the Iranian delegation agreed with the statements on faith and reason shows they did not see the contradiction between them in Islam that some observers read into Benedict’s comments in Regensburg. They also agreed that “faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent,” a message Benedict said he meant to get across there. Another point agreed on here — that both Catholics and Muslims should promote respect for religious beliefs and symbols — seems to have the controversy over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad as its background. One can’t read too much into one meeting but it seems that dialogue is moving ahead despite some occasional setbacks.

I can’t help but notice the different emphasis here from what the popular Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled said this week about the protests against the Danish cartoons.

Here is the final communique (my emphasis of main points):

  • 1. Faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind.
  • 2. Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it.
  • 3. Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith.
  • 4. Both sides agreed to further co-operate in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values.
  • 5. Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.
  • 6. Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions within Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.
  • 7. Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them.
  • The participants expressed their satisfaction with the level of the presentations and the debates as well as the open and friendly atmosphere during the colloquium.
  • The participants were honoured and pleased to be received at the end of the colloquium by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who was particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting.
  • The next colloquium will be held in Tehran within two years, preceded by a preparatory meeting.

Update: links to reports with more background by Reuters, Catholic News Service, AFP (in French) and L’Osservatore Romano (in Italian, with picture).

7 comments

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“Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent?”

Isn’t Iran where they chant “Death to Israel. Death to America” daily?

The Iranians in this case appear to have gotten everything they want, and have given up nothing in return.

In particular, I point to “…unfortunately, both of them [reason and faith] have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith.”

In other words, Moslems throughout the world can do the most heinous crimes, *in the name of their religioin*, and the religious leaders do not condemn those acts, and the religion can still be held blameless.

Well im not defending islam here but i think christianity already did its share of violence and shared its horror around the world and different cultures. I guess now its time for islam. This is what organized religion does.

Posted by N- | Report as abusive

Neither Christianity nor Islam kills. Only men with greedy and selfish motives did, do and will do! They had, are doing and will be doing.

So if the Pope and any other religious leader/Leaders wants/want peace to reign on Earth, then ask the UN to make a resolution to stop all politicians from using religious symbols for political gains or power. Any who does should be sent to HAGUE to be tried as WAR CRIMINALS and be exterminated immediately, if found indeed guilty.

But of course, religions are all human inventions for a future journey in this uncertain world. So as for other dangerous inventions, it is great for the Pope to continue to have dialogue with others in order to bring in more safety measures before religion becomes the catalyst for human extinction or at least the reason for another World War.

For us human, we ought to leave the wars to GOD himself. We need not fight on his behalf for he can do it himself when and if he wants it. We just pray for his protection and help to ward off those with bad or evil intentions.

It is better to leave VENGEANCE TO GOD HIMSELF. Thus we pray for guidance, ideas but vengeance and evil thoughts be left to Him to deal with. Then there always be PEACE.

siburp said: “So if the Pope and any other religious leader/Leaders wants/want peace to reign on Earth, then ask the UN to make a resolution to stop all politicians from using religious symbols for political gains or power. Any who does should be sent to HAGUE to be tried as WAR CRIMINALS and be exterminated immediately, if found indeed guilty.”
The thought of the UN making universal laws about the use of religion and then “exterminating” those who don’t comply is about the most heinous suggestion I have ever heard and shows the dangers of “fundamentalist” atheism taken to an extreme.

Posted by Tired Evangelical | Report as abusive

Its not about atheism. If you really do love & believe in God then God should be in your heart. And there it should remain, in your private sanctuary. That is true devotion.

I believe siburp suggested that a universal body finally is given responsibility to stop the use of religion and peoples lives by politicians and people with higher positions for their own gains. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Posted by N- | Report as abusive

So N and siburp want to “exterminate” politicians who “use
religion” but supposedly the use of any other ideology for political purposes is acceptable. So a Green party pantheist who appeals to the sacredness of the earth to rally supporters should be “exterminated”? A politician who says “God bless America” should be “exterminated?” All members of the “Christian democratic” parties in Europe should be lined up against the wall? By an unelected body at that.
Don’t get me wrong, for example, I am uncomfortable with many tactics of the “religious right” in the USA, hence the “tired” in my name. The way to oppose this is for not voting for these politicians, rallying political opposition,but not “exterminating them” with an international thought police. This idea while it may not necessarily be “atheist” (although I am not sure what else you would call something that completely shuts out any mention of faith in political discourse) but it is definitely extremism.

Posted by Tired Evangelical | Report as abusive

interesting how all these world leaders who are supposedly “fighting” always defer to the Papacy.
vaticanassassins.org

Posted by gary | Report as abusive