10/28/2008, 00.00
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In its Diwali message Holy See reminds Hindus of the principle of non-violence

In this year’s message for the Festival of Light, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue refers to the teachings of the Pope and Gandhi, urging religious leaders to promote the rejection of violence.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – This year’s message by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for Hindus on the occasion of the Diwali festival is centred on the value of “non-violence’ as “the only way to build a global society that is more compassionate, more just and more caring.” For three days beginning today Hindus will celebrate the victory of truth over lies, lights over darkness, life over death, and good over evil.

Signed by Card Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council, the message does not refer to the anti-Christian pogroms that are still underway in the Indian state of Orissa.

Instead it calls for a joint reflection on “how we can live harmoniously in today's society, witnessing to the truth, light and hope that Diwali celebrates. While religions are often blamed for society’s ills, we know that it is rather the manipulation of religion, contrary to its fundamental beliefs, that is used to carry out so many forms of violence.”

Titled Christians and Hindus: Together in favour of Non-violence, the message cites the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and Gandhi, to say that “[n]on-violence is not merely a tactical manoeuvre but is the attitude of one who, as the Pope affirmed, ‘is so convinced of God’s love and power,’ [. . .] that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.”

Quoting Benedict XVI from his Angelus of 18 February, the message said: “In the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness,” and “[t]his more comes from God. Thus by the mercy of God . . . it is possible to tip the balance of the world from evil to good, when we recognize that it begins in that small and decisive ‘world’ which is the human heart.”

“In the Hindu tradition,” the message goes on to say, “non-violence is one of the more important teachings. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation, is respected and held in high regard by people of different generations around the world for his complete dedication to the service of humanity. During the course of his struggle for freedom, he realized that ‘an eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind’. Throughout his life, he developed among others, the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence). He is a model for non-violence and he led by example to the point of laying down his life because of his refusal to engage in violence.”

Finally, the message ended saying that “[n]on-violence is encouraged by many other religions. Non-violence is central to our beliefs as the way to promote truth, light, mutual respect, freedom and harmony. As religious leaders called to uphold the truth found in our respective religions, let us help to foster non-violence among our followers and support it in their actions.”

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