In its message for the Diwali party, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue states that for lasting peace and true harmony “tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole. To see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message titled ‘Christians and Hindus: Going beyond tolerance’ on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Deepawali or Diwali, the festival of lights.
Based on an ancient mythology, the event symbolically represents the victory of truth over lies, light on darkness, life over death, good over evil. The actual celebration lasts three days, and marks the beginning of the New Year, family reconciliation, especially among brothers and sisters, and the worship of God. This year the festival will be start on 19 October.
The message, signed by the Council’s president, Card Jean-Louis Tauran, and secretary, Mgr Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.J., addresses the issue of intolerance, noting that seeing “pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.”
“We can rightfully acknowledge the many wonderful things that are happening throughout the world, for which we are very grateful. At the same time, we are also mindful of the difficulties which confront our communities and which deeply concern us. The growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world, is one such challenge we face today. On this occasion, therefore, we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.
“Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole. To see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.
“Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity. In the light of our responsibility to society, fostering such respect demands showing esteem for different social, cultural and religious customs and practices. It likewise demands the recognition of inalienable rights, such as the right to life and the right to profess and practise the religion of one’s choice.
“The path forward for diverse communities is thus one marked by respect. While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favours peaceful coexistence and harmony for all. Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of “feeling at home” with others. Rather than dividing and isolating, respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family.”
“We are challenged then to go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace- making and harmonious living.
“Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own. In this way, we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.”