VATICAN (CWN) -- In an annual Vatican message to the Islamic world, at the start of the month-long Muslim observance of Ramadan, Cardinal Francis Arinze has called for a "peace pact" in which Christians and Muslims alike would reject violence as a method of resolving their conflicts.

      Cardinal Arinze, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, conveyed "the greetings of Catholics from all over the world" in his message, which was entitled: "Christians and Muslims: Under the Sign of Hope."

      The cardinal explained that the first "sign of hope" in these relations is the common "search for God" that motivates believers in both faiths. He said that another sign of hope is the common perception of "all the good in the world," which is "the fruit and the mark of God's action in the hearts of men." He also mentioned the common desire for peace, justice, religious freedom, and a recognition of human dignity.

      While admitting the need for a "realistic" recognition of all the conflicts taking place around the world, Cardinal Arinze urged: "However, the little lamp of hope must always remain lit, illuminating the path of humanity toward a better future."

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January 9, 1998 volume 9, no. 7          DAILY CATHOLIC