Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Educating the young so that they may not become victims of religious fanaticism, but may become builders of peace, and working to increase understanding, awareness, and trust among religious leaders, in such a way as to confront together the crises that might arise, preventing these from degenerating into religious conflict. These are the main points of the concluding statement of the meeting on "Responsibilities of Religious Leaders especially in Times of Crisis," organized at the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and by the World Islamic Call Society, based in Libya. The meeting concluded today.
The participants at the meeting - twelve Catholic personalities and experts, and twelve Muslim, from various countries, under the presidency, respectively, of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and of Mohamed Ahmed Sherif, secretary general of the World Islamic Call Society - were received today by Benedict XVI, at the end of the general audience.
The pope expressed "satisfaction and strong encouragement," as stated in a note from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The final joint statement affirms, among other things, that "considering the role religions can and should have in society, religious leaders also have a cultural and social role to play in promoting fundamental ethical values, such as justice, solidarity, peace, social harmony and the common good of society as a whole, especially the needy, the weak, migrants and the oppressed.
"Religious leaders have a special responsibility towards youth, who require particular attention so that they do not fall victim to religious fanaticism and radicalism, receiving rather, a sound education thereby helping them to become bridge builders and peace makers."
Keeping in mind the possibly that "crises of diverse nature" could arise on the national and international level, religious leaders should "learn to prevent, cope with and remedy these particular situations, avoiding their degeneration into confessional violence. This requires a mutual respect and reciprocal knowledge, both cherishing personal relations and building confidence and mutual trust, so as to be able to confront together crises when they occur."
Finally, it was decided that the next meeting will be held in Tripoli, within the next two years. The meeting follows other organized encounters, in various locations, in 1976, and since 1989 until today on a regular basis.