17 December 2017
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  • » 12/01/2017, 13.54

    BANGLADESH - VATICAN

    Pope in Bangladesh: the diversity between religions is a source of enrichment and growth



    Greetings with a group of Rohingya refugees at the end of an inter-religious and ecumenical meeting for peace with five representatives of religious communities. It is "a particularly gratifying sign of our times that believers and all people of good will feel increasingly called to cooperate in shaping a culture of encounter, dialogue and cooperation in the service of our human family.  This entails more than mere tolerance.  It challenges us to reach out to others in mutual trust and understanding."

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Religious freedom, and even more so  " f openness, acceptance and cooperation between believers", and the meeting with a group of 18 Rohingya, belonging to three families of refugees who fled from Myanmar, marked the interreligious and ecumenical meeting for the peace that concluded the Pope’s long day in Dhaka.

    The meeting was opened with traditional hymns and dances, followed by the greeting address of the archbishop of Dhaka, Card. Patrick D'Rozario, C.S.C., and those of five representatives of religious communities (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic) and civil society. And Allamma Majharul Islam, Grand Khatib (great custodian) of Amber Shah Shahi Jami Mosque has also delivered to Francis a letter containing a fatwa against extremism signed by 100 thousand imams.

    "The words we have heard - said the Pope - , but also the songs and dances that have enlivened our assembly, have spoken to us eloquently of the yearning for harmony, fraternity and peace embodied in the teachings of the world’s religions.  May our meeting this afternoon be a clear sign of the efforts of the leaders and followers of the religions present in this country to live together in mutual respect and good will.  In Bangladesh, where the right to religious freedom is a founding principle, this commitment stands as a subtle yet firm rebuke to those who would seek to foment division, hatred and violence in the name of religion."

    "It is a particularly gratifying sign of our times that believers and all people of good will feel increasingly called to cooperate in shaping a culture of encounter, dialogue and cooperation in the service of our human family.  This entails more than mere tolerance.  It challenges us to reach out to others in mutual trust and understanding, and so to build a unity that sees diversity not as a threat, but as a potential source of enrichment and growth.  It challenges us to cultivate an openness of heart that views others as an avenue, not a barrier."

    "Allow me to explore with you briefly some essential features of this “openness of heart” that is the condition for a culture of encounter. First, it is a door.  It is not an abstract theory but a lived experience.  It enables us to embark on a dialogue of life, not a mere exchange of ideas.  It calls for good will and acceptance, yet it is not to be confused with indifference or reticence in expressing our most deeply held convictions.  To engage fruitfully with another means sharing our distinct religious and cultural identity, but always with humility, honesty and respect."

    "Openness of heart is also like a ladder that reaches up to the Absolute.  By recalling this transcendent dimension of our activity, we realize the need for our hearts to be purified, so that we can see all things in their truest perspective.  As with each step our vision becomes clearer, we receive the strength to persevere in the effort to understand and value others and their point of view.  In this way, we will find the wisdom and strength needed to extend the hand of friendship to all.”

    “Openness of heart is likewise a path that leads to the pursuit of goodness, justice and solidarity.  It leads to seeking the good of our neighbours.  In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Saint Paul urged his hearers: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).  This is a sentiment that all of us can echo.  Religious concern for the welfare of our neighbour, streaming from an open heart, flows outward like a vast river, to quench the dry and parched wastelands of hatred, corruption, poverty and violence that so damage human lives, tear families apart, and disfigure the gift of creation. "

    "Bangladesh’s different religious communities have embraced this path in a particular way by their commitment to the care of the earth, our common home, and by their response to the natural disasters that have beset the nation in recent years.  I think too of the common outpouring of grief, prayer and solidarity that accompanied the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza, which remains fresh in the minds of all.  In these various ways, we see how the path of goodness leads to cooperation in the service of others. A spirit of openness, acceptance and cooperation between believers does not simply contribute to a culture of harmony and peace; it is its beating heart.  How much our world needs this heart to beat strongly, to counter the virus of political corruption, destructive religious ideologies, and the temptation to turn a blind eye to the needs of the poor, refugees, persecuted minorities, and those who are most vulnerable.  How much, too, is such openness needed in order to reach out to the many people in our world, especially the young, who at times feel alone and bewildered as they search for meaning in life!"

    At the end of the meeting, the group of Rohingya, accompanied by two Caritas interpreters, greeted Francis. The Pope has frequently spoken of their plight, starting with Angelus on August 27, when he spoke of the "sad news about the persecution of the religious minority, our Rohingya brothers and sisters. I would like to express, " he said on that occasion," my closeness to them, and we all ask the Lord to save them and to arouse the goodwill men and women in their help, giving them full rights."

    And during this trip, although the authorities of Myanmar have asked for no appointment, their situation has been repeatedly mentioned by Francis from the outset of his arrival in former Burma, when he stated that the country's future must be one of "peace , a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of every member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity."

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