‘Christians and Muslims must prove they can live in peace’

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Fr Jacques Hamel
Fr Jacques Hamel

Terrorists want to make peace-loving Christians and Muslims believe that it is impossible for them to live side by side; it is up to Christians and Muslims to prove them wrong, said French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was in France on 26 July when 85-year-old Fr Jacques Hamel was brutally murdered in St-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility. Writing on 12 August in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Tauran said, “Obviously, these crimes threaten the credibility of interreligious dialogue, but we must continue to meet, to speak and to work together when possible so hatred does not prevail.”

In a multicultural, multireligious society, ignorance breeds problems, he said. “In order to live together we must look at those who are different from us with esteem, friendly curiosity and a desire to walk together.” When tensions arise or outrageous acts are perpetrated they must be studied as “providential lessons from which people must draw the necessary wisdom to open more reasonable and more courageous paths”.

As now-retired Pope Benedict XVI taught, he said, dialogue deepens only when both dialogue partners know and practice their own faith and are willing to try to explain it to the other.

“Dialogue cannot be based on ambiguity,” the cardinal said, tragedies must encourage us “to deepen our spiritual life”.

Christians and Muslims, he wrote, “must work together and promote religious instruction”, especially in societies that seem to be pushing faith to the margins.

“By killing Fr Jacques, those who conceived of this despicable act had one precise goal: to demonstrate that peaceful coexistence among Muslims and Christians is impossible. But we have demonstrated and we believe that we must join forces in the name of God to work together for harmony and unity in a spirit of sincerity and mutual trust.”

-CNS