DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY July 26, 1999 vol. 10, no. 138
NEWS & VIEWS
"I PRAY THAT THE POPE WILL BE ABLE TO REALIZE HIS WISH TO GO TO IRAQ"
Cardinal Arinze Comments on Dialogue with Moslems
VATICAN CITY, JUL 23 (ZENIT).- As part of the Jubilee celebrations, next year John Paul II would very much like to meet with Jews and Moslems in the ancient Ur of the Chaldeans, homeland of Abraham, Father in Faith of the three monotheist religions.
The Pope's wish was confirmed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. During an interview with "Famiglia Cristiana" magazine, the Cardinal said: "I pray that the Pope will be able to realize his wish."
Not only does the Cardinal pray, but he is also working for this wish to come true. In concert with the Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Council he heads is studying ways to make the Holy Father's pilgrimage possible. The Cardinal chose not to expand on his activities -- an understandable reservation given the delicate diplomatic aspects of the matter. Cardinal Arinze preferred to emphasize the dialogue among the different religious confessions, scheduled to meet at the Vatican from October 24-28.
The Cardinal felt that much progress has been made over the last 30 years in relations with Islam. "I recall the joint declarations condemning grave acts of violence, such as the attack on New York's World Trade Center and the series of deaths in Algeria; I note the academic exchange between the Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Ankara in Turkey." Obviously, there are difficulties. "I prefer to speak of challenges, however, as I hope that positive outlets will be found."
It is hard for the Islamic world to accept the principle of religious liberty as understood in the West. "Last January the Pope reminded the ambassadors to the Holy See that there is a country where possession of the Bible is a crime punishable by law," recalled the Cardinal. "John Paul II did not name Saudi Arabia, but in my country there is a proverb that says: 'If someone looks good in a hat, let him wear it.' " Each State must examine its conduct.
"In some Moslem countries, Catholics are not allowed to have a church,
but there is a mosque in Rome. Religious liberty is an inalienable
right," stated Cardinal Arinze. Catholics must also examine their
conscience, however. "It was in the year 1650 that the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples gave missionaries in the Far East specific
instructions to respect all good customs that were not incompatible with
the Gospel. It insisted on spreading the Gospel, not the cultures of
Italy, Spain or France." But, the Cardinal concluded, "not all the
missionaries and theologians paid sufficient attention to this
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