It is my privilege to serve as the moderator of this panel, with has a very relevant and challenging theme: “Islam and Christianity: the Paths of Encounter”.
My joy of participating in this event is great. Among the reasons is that I am able to meet some old friends (when I say ‘old friends’ it does not mean ‘friends who are old’!). I am indeed happy to meet Archbishop Felix Machado and Dr. Muhammad Sammak. The joy is doubled also because of the opportunity of meeting eminent persons, like, Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, Philippines, Rev. Klaus Krämer, President of “Missio Aachen”, Germany, Dr. Syuhud Sahudi Marsudi, President of “Nahdatul Ulama”, Indonesia, and Dr. Bibi Fatemeh Mooasvi, Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, Iran.
Our Panel, as you are aware of, is under the umbrella of the general theme of our meeting: “Bridges of Peace: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”. We, Christians and Muslims, in general, and particulr in the panel, are called to look together for paths of dialogue and encounter between the believers of our respective communities. Walking together means building brigdes necessary to unite two divided parties. Bridges are built when there is peace and are maintained in safe condition; in times of war, instead, they are sometimes destroyed.That situation all the more warants that we rebuild bridges with renewed hope and reconciliation for peace.
Sant’Egidio community members, along with Msgr. Matteo Zuppi, the Archbishop of Bologna, who also belongs to this community, are bridge builders: with God, through prayer; and with the poor and the homeless, through daily care. They are also builders of bridges among Christians through ecumenical dialogue and among Christians and people of diverese religious traditions through interreligious dialogue. They are builder bridges through mediation and negotations. May God bless them and their activities and help them to continue serving Him and His sons and daughters according to His loving will!
What could be the paths of promoting dialogue between Muslims and Christians? I would like to propose the following, hoping that they become milestones on this path.
1) Knowing each other better.
2) Enhancing respecting one another.
3) Loving one another as brothers and sisters, with tenderness.
4) Pardoning each other’s mistakes of the past and of the present.
5) Thinking, speaking and writing about the other with objectivity and benevolence.
6) Being fair with one another, treating the other as we would like to be treated ourselves.
7) Praying for one another.
8) Working together for peace, for the needy, for the common good and for the preservation of the planet, “our common home” (Pope Francis)
9) Educating the youth to be responsible citizens and credible believers
10) Being a sign of peace and happiness for our broken world, even with little deeds like bringing about a smile on a tired/sorrowful face!
Before giving the floor to the panelists I would like to evoke the memory of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who entered eternal life on the fifth of July. We thank God for all what He did for him and through him, in a special way in respect to interreligious dialogue. May he rest in peace!