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WASHINGTON (RNS) Christian and Muslim leaders from the U.S., the Vatican and the Middle East have issued a “plan of action” to address religious freedom and peace-building after a three-day summit at Washington National Cathedral.
The group’s two-page statement committed to working with government and community officials to address the global economic downturn, natural disasters and the conflict in the Middle East.
“The worship of God who demands serious moral purpose is at the very core of Christianity and Islam,” the statement reads. “Therefore, religious leaders must cooperatively work with each other and the political leaders in their respective countries in response to these crises.”
At a news conference Wednesday (March 3), leaders said their three days of “frank” discussion included disagreements, but resulted in a statement on shared principals.
“I think this is … a demonstration that religion is not something abstract,” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Ahmad El Tayeb, president of Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, said the dialogue helped build tolerance among the different faiths even as tensions remain, and “we don’t have the magic stick to solve all these problems.”
The dialogue is expected to continue with another meeting next year.
The plan includes a commitment to the sacredness of human life, overcoming terrorism and violence and the right to religious convictions.
“To dismiss or demean another faith tradition, to impose a system of belief on others, or to proselytize them to change their beliefs, is a violation of the sacred dignity of the human person,” the statement reads.
Tauran described “proselytism” as imposing, rather than proposing, tenets of a faith.
Washington Episcopal Bishop John Chane said religious leaders will be key for 21st-century diplomacy, and the statement urges religious advocacy “particularly in situations where formal diplomatic talks have stalled.” It also opposes moral relativism, the oppression of women and children, and attacks on sacred places.
— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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