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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Vatican, Muslims Want Ethical Economy

CAIRO — Concluding a landmark inter-faith
talks at the Vatican, Catholic and Muslim scholars called on Thursday,
November 6, for an ethical financial system, religious freedom and a
violence-free world.

“We call upon believers to work for an
ethical financial system in which the regulatory mechanisms consider
the situation of the poor and disadvantaged, both as individuals and as
indebted nations,” they said in a joint 15-point statement.

Global stock markets plunged Thursday on
growing fears the world economy faces a deep and long lasting recession
as the financial crisis saps growth and dangerously weakens the banking

A financial crisis swept the US in
September after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest
investment bank, and the financial woes of a number of Wall Street

Its shockwaves have triggered a domino
effect across the world, forcing many countries to pumped billions of
dollars into their troubled banks to keep credit flowing and prevent a
complete financial meltdown.

Wrapping up a three-day forum, more than
50 Catholic and Muslim scholars said the equitable financial system
should take into account debts-ridden nations and ways to end the
economic woes triggered by the crisis.

“We call on the privileged of the world to
consider the plight of those afflicted most severely by the current
crisis in food production and distribution,” they added.

“Religious believers of all denominations
and all people of good will to work together to alleviate the suffering
of the hungry, and to eliminate its causes.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates 923 million people are suffering from hunger around the world.

FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said
Tuesday about 100 million more people will be living in hunger in a
year if unfair global agriculture practices are not changed.

Religious Freedom

The three-day meeting called for showing respect to religious minorities and symbols.

“Religious minorities are entitled to be respected in their own religious convictions and practices,” read the joint statement.

“They are also entitled to their own
places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider
sacred should not be subject to any form of mockery or ridicule.”

In his closing remarks, Pope Benedict XVI called for boosting freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

“My hope…is that these fundamental human rights will be protected for all people everywhere.”

He described the forum as “one more step along the way towards greater understanding between Muslims and Christians.”

Last year Pope Benedict XVI angered
Muslims by citing a medieval text that characterized some of the
teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as
“evil and inhuman.”

Benedict, who met the 58 participants in
the sumptuous Clementine Hall, used for grand occasions at the Vatican,
said the differing concepts of God should not prevent the two faiths
from showing mutual respect.

The meeting is the first since Vatican and
Muslims leaders agreed in March to establish a Catholic-Muslim forum to
meet regularly to bridge their gap.

The move followed an open letter by 138
Muslim scholars and intellectuals to Christian spiritual leaders for
dialogue between the two Abrahimic faiths.