View Full Version : West risks obsession with Islam, warns Vatican

06-10-2008, 05:25 PM
Read the full interview with Cardinal Tauran

The Vatican has given warning that the West's efforts at inter-faith dialogue must not be “held hostage" by Islam and are in danger of becoming "obsessed" with it at the expense of other religions.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, said that the Church “has to have regard for all religions". He said that the council had this week discussed new guidelines for inter-faith dialogue.

“What was interesting about our discussions was that we did not concentrate on Islam because in a way we are being held hostage by Islam a little bit," he told the Catholic website Terrasanta.net. "Islam is very important, but there are also other great Asiatic religious traditions. Islam is one religion."

Pope Benedict XVI has convened an unprecedented Catholic-Muslim forum for October. He has also sought to make amends for his controversial speech at Regensburg University two years ago, when he appeared to suggest that Islam was irrational and inherently violent. He later visited Turkey and prayed at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul alongside the local imam.
However, asked if there was a sense that Islam must not "monopolise" inter-faith dialogue Cardinal Tauran replied: "Yes, people are obsessed by Islam. For example I'm going to India next month and I want to give this message that all religions are equal. Sometimes there are priorities because of particular situations, but we mustn't get the impression there are first-class religions and second-class religions".

He said that the new guidelines being discussed amounted to "a kind of road map for priests, bishops and ordinary brothers and sisters ... Of course, these have to be adapted to local situations, as someone in Morocco is not in the same situation as someone in Japan." The guidelines however would be "more concrete" than those issued in the early 1990s.
Cardinal Tauran said that Christians "have many things in common with other believers - for example that we all believe in one God, that we profess the same sacredness of life, the necessity of fraternity, the experience of prayer".

The council had also emphasised "the formation of youth, because we realise that in the society in which we live, in multi-ethnical, multi-cultural societies, the young generation are perhaps lost. So we have to give them points of reference, and religions are obviously very important in that."

The cardinal criticised Saudi Arabia for not allowing Christian worship. “What is good for me is good for the other, so if it's possible for Muslims to have a mosque in the West, we should have the same in Muslim countries. This is not the case in many countries."

He said that last week he had celebrated mass at a new church in Doha, Qatar, consecrated a month ago. "It is a very impressive building. Now we're going to have a school there run by nuns. So this is an example of very good inter-religious dialogue with very concrete effects. In Saudi Arabia that is not the case yet."

Asked about reports of a Vatican-Saudi dialogue, Cardinal Tauran said that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had in mind a "tripartite dialogue" between Christians, Muslims and Jews. “I think he's beginning to convince his own people," the cardinal said. However talk of building a church in Saudi Arabia was premature.

"We don't have precise information about what the King has in mind, but I suppose it will be a gradual evolution, for example the possibility to celebrate services in hotels, in embassies,” Cardinal Tauran said. He said that preparations for the ground breaking Islamic-Christian Forum called by the Pope were well under way.

The cardinal said that he discussed Tony Blair's new Faith Foundation with Mr Blair himself. “I am ready to help it. But it's a very demanding task. I suppose he has the charisma and the will, but it is very demanding. If we can help him, we would do so very willingly because he has a clear leadership and much good will," Cardinal Tauran said.

Mr Blair was "a new Catholic, he has intelligence and experience". The cardinal said he agreed with Mr Blair that religious extremism was a danger. "The truth has to impose itself by itself, not by the sword."

Cardinal Tauran's comments came in the run up to an inter-faith meeting in Amman, the capital of Jordan, later this month organised by Oasis, the research centre for inter religious dialogue founded in 2004 by Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice.

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06-10-2008, 09:21 PM
Filter out the fanatics.

Eric H
06-10-2008, 09:56 PM
Greetings and peace be with you wise brother Osman,

We must continue to pray for a greater interfaith friendship.

In the spirit of praying for peace on Earth,


06-11-2008, 04:43 PM
Peace Uncle Eric!

Originally Posted by Eric H
We must continue to pray for a greater interfaith friendship
Ditto, as always. :)

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06-11-2008, 05:09 PM
Archbishop of Canterbury warns: Do not ignore Christianity for Islam
By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury has demanded that the Government sit up and take notice of the Church of England, after a report disclosed how Christianity is being ignored at the expense of Islam.

Dr Rowan Williams said the landmark study painted a "depressing" picture of how the state misunderstands the important contribution played by the clergy and churchgoers to the economy and society.

The report, commissioned by the Church but written by academics from the Von Hügel Institute at Cambridge University, found that central and local government just pay "lip service" to Christians but "focus intently" on Muslims because of the threat of extremism.

Because the state lacks evidence about the role churches play, it is "planning blind". In the words of the report's title, a play on Gordon Brown's claim to be guided by his conscience, it is moral but has no compass.

In a joint statement issued together with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, Dr Williams called the report "fascinating and important".

The archbishops said: "On the one hand it highlights and details some truly remarkable examples of public good delivered by the Church and faith-based organisations - sometimes funded by the state, though mostly not - and a general picture of committed social engagement which if grasped imaginatively by the state could, indeed would, yield some extraordinarily positive results.

"On the other it reveals a depressing level of misunderstanding of the scale and quality of contribution faith-based organisations make to the civil and civic life of our nation - our common good. This is particularly true in relation to the contribution of the Church of England, and its membership, on which the report focuses.

"In short, this report urges the Church, government and others, notably the Charity Commissioners, to sit up, take note and to better understand each others roles and intentions in order to make the most of one of this nation's most diverse, creative and enduring assets – the Church."

The bishop who commissioned the report, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, accused ministers of failing to grasp that the Church is present in every community in the country and so can use its influence and volunteers to take on far more social projects.

But he admitted this was partly because the Church had allowed itself to be taken for granted.

Bishop Lowe said: "We've been prepared to be taken for granted and it's about time for raising the profile and saying what we are doing and the contribution we make to the economy."

The report recommends that the Government appoint a minister for religion, social cohesion and voluntary action to make the most of what churches and charities can offer.


06-11-2008, 05:12 PM

CHRISTIANITY is being sidelined in Britain because Labour is concentrating on minority religions such as Islam, it was claimed yesterday.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said the revelations in a new academic report were “depressing”.

It claimed Labour is taking for granted the good work done by the Church of England.

It highlighted the bias towards religions such as Islam, and said the Charity Commission focused on what minority communities achieved “to the relative exclusion of the Christian church”.

The report said: “We encountered on the part of Government a significant lack of understanding of, or interest in, the Church of England’s contribution in the public sphere.

“Indeed, we were told that the Government had consciously decided to focus its evidence gathering almost exclusively on minority religions.”

Reacting to the findings, Dr Williams said: “It reveals a depressing level of misunderstanding of the scale and quality of contribution that faith-based organisations make to the civil and civic life of our nation – our common good.

“This is particularly true in relation to the contribution of the Church of England.”

The study follows controversial comments at the weekend by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears who said it was “common sense” to dedicate more effort to Islam because of the threat of extremism.

The report by the Von Hugel Institute at Cambridge University found that minority religions did not appreciate the attention lauded on them by ministers – instead feeling they were being victimised. The study also accused the Government of failing parts of society with its approach to faith communities and social policy.

It urged the Government to appoint a Minister for Religion, Social Cohesion and Voluntary Action who would also serve as the Prime Minister’s faith envoy.

The study’s authors said that during their research they encountered a Church of England that, relative to its size, made “extensive contributions” to the civic health of the nation.

Bishops carried out “countless activities” such as fundraising and sitting on governing bodies of schools or colleges.

And cathedrals offered great potential for social action and education as well as being centres of prayer.

The report said: “Despite this immense and long-standing involvement by the Anglican Church, the Government, with notable exceptions, has consistently failed to pay more than enthusiastic lip service to its role in society.”

The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, who commissioned the report, said: “I do not think the Church of England is very good at actually selling itself. In fact, we spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that people say we are ‘declining’ without recognising the immense contribution that we make as the largest voluntary organisation in the country.

“That sense of our activity is often, I would almost say always, forgotten.”

But Ms Blears remained unrepentant last night. She said: “This is an unfair attack on the Government.

“We engage with the Church of England on a regular basis, as we do with all other faiths. In fact, we met with them recently to discuss faith work and I met with the Archbishop of Canterbury only a few months ago when he helped us to launch our inter-faith strategy consultation.

“The Government recognises and welcomes the great contribution made by people motivated by their different faiths and our new inter-faith strategy, to be published in July, will set out further our commitments on this important agenda.

“We will also be looking at the important role of faith groups, including Britain’s churches, in our forthcoming White Paper on Community Empowerment.”

06-11-2008, 05:16 PM
In my view, the government should not undervalue the hard work and valuable contribution that the church makes to this country. Quite understandably, it is very important that the government maintains a good relationship with Muslims in this country but it is unfair to ignore the role of the church as well.


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