Defense Of Life And Religious Freedom In Final Declaration Of Catholic-Muslim Forum

Vatican City, Nov 6, 2008 / 02:38 pm (CNA) - At the conclusion of the Catholic-Muslim Forum which took place at the Vatican, the participants issued a joint statement underscoring, among other themes, the importance of the defense of life as a gift from God to each person, religious freedom and the promotion of common moral values.

The text states that Christians and Muslims believe that “human life is a very precious gift from God for each person, and therefore it should be preserved and honored in all of its stages.”

After noting that the dignity of the person lies in having been created by God who is love, the participants of the forum underscored that everyone has the right “to the full recognition of their own identity and freedom as individuals, community and government, with the support of civil legislation that guarantees their rights and full citizenship.”

Men and women have the same dignity, the statement continues, and every individual and community has the right “to practice their own religion in private and in public.”  It also underscores the right of religious minorities “to be respected in their own convictions and religious practices.  They also have the right to their own places of worship and the images and symbols they consider sacred should be not suffer derision or ridicule.”

“We affirm that no religion or its followers should be excluded from society.  Each one should be able to give its vital contribution to the wellbeing of society, in particular in service of those most in need,” the statement went on.

Catholics and Muslims, it continued, should offer to their own faithful a “healthy education in moral and religious, civil and human values and should promote accurate information about the religion of others.”

Furthermore, the statement says that “Catholics and Muslims are called to be instruments of love and harmony between believers and for all of humanity, renouncing any oppression, aggressive violence and terrorist acts, in particular those perpetrated in the name of religion, and to support the principle of justice for all.”

After encouraging the promotion of a better financial system to confront the global crisis, the Forum participants recalled that it is essential that young people “be well educated in their own religious traditions and informed about other cultures and religions.”

They also said the creation of permanent Catholic-Muslim committee is under consideration, and that the next meeting of the Forum would be held in an Islamic country in two years.