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Speech by His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Print E-mail
     Mr. President, Your Eminence, Your Holiness! Ladies and gentlemen! Dear friends!
    My first thoughts and words of thanks addressed to God, the Almighty and loving all His children, on whose mercy we all gathered in this hospitable country, rich in its ethnic diversity, traditions, culture and religion. Kazakhstan - is the best evidence showing that harmony can be combined with the diversity!
    Despite its diversity, this country is a vivid demonstration of hospitality and interest in dialogue and mutual understanding within the country and abroad. It deserves thanks and gratitude of all participants of this Congress.
    I bring you greetings and best wishes of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, whom I have the pleasure and honor to represent at this meeting. The Pope follows this very important event with interest and prayers to make it a valuable contribution to peace and harmony among all peoples and religious communities.
    I would like to briefly describe what peace means within the understanding of the Catholic Church and what it is based on, how to build peace and what is the specific role of religious leaders in achieving this goal
 1. Peace
Christians understand peace as a gift bestowed by God, and at the same time it is a “benefit” of human work. Peace includes both God and man simultaneously. The Christ told his followers before his death and resurrection, that he leaves them “his peace”. Therefore, Christians have a very clear idea about peace. Peace means not only absence of war or political equilibrium but it is a collection of many goods, especially security.
This is a benefit of justice. The war, in contrast, with all its horrors, one of the greatest tragedies that can happen to a country and people. Peace is growing, as the most precious plant, and needs continuous care. Humanity must create favorable conditions for the accession of peace anytime and anywhere.
I would like to draw your attention to two specific initiatives of the Catholic Church in the name of peace: the introduction of the World Day of Prayer for Peace on January 1 and the Pope’s address to political leaders around the world for peace. Establishment of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is doubly symbolic: it is both care of the world, and a genuine connection between peace and justice.

2. The underlying principle of Peace
The theme of our Congress includes the three pillars of Peace - tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation.
2.1. Tolerance
The word “tolerance” has a great negative meaning, although it may be considered at least less harmful. In his address to the Muslims at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on the occasion of the end of fasting in 1996, titled “Christians and Muslims: without tolerance” President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and later Cardinal Francis Arinze said: “Our relationship as believers, Christians and Muslims should not be based on tolerance, understood as a simple manifestation of tolerance towards each other.
Brotherhood – it’s not just tolerance towards each other, but love. We, Christians and Muslims, still have a long way to achieve harmony and love, not tolerance”.
All that is said about relations between Christians and Muslims, refers to the relationship to believers of other religions as well: from simple tolerance to love and mutual respect”.
Mutual Respect
Respect - a core value, the fundamental concept of human relations. Without respect is impossible to achieve any benefits, even if there are other noble sentiments such as compassion, empathy and the like. Respect for another does not imply acceptance of what he believes or approval of his behavior. This respect is based on a fundamental and inalienable self-esteem of each person.
I think it would be appropriate to note that the Catholic Church understand interreligious dialogue as a sign of respect to other believers: “Interreligious dialogue is fundamental to the Church, which is destined to work in accordance with the plans of God, using their own methods of presence, respect and love for all neighbors” (Pope John Paul II, speaking at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, 1984).

2.3. Cooperation
According to Mother Teresa of Calcutta the cooperation means joint creation of the public good and giving help to those in need, especially those who are poor, “the poorest of the poor”.
The issue of cooperation between believers of different religions was raised many times. People want a dialogue took place not only as a pleasant exchange of views, but as move from words to deeds.
The Catholic Church teaches to support four basic types of dialogue: dialogue of life, dialogue of action, dialogue of theological exchange and dialogue of religious experience. But what we are most interested in, so it is a dialogue of action, acts by means of which Christians and other believers must work together for common development and release. (Dialogue and Declarations, Reflections and Orientations on the Interreligious Dialogue and Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Joint Document of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, Vatican, 19 May 1991).
Talking about the basis or foundation of peace, I think it would be appropriate and useful to mention the Holy Pope John XXIII, who is considered to be a proponent of the ideas of peace. In his address “Peace on Earth” (April 11, 1963) at the moment of highest international tensions that threatened world peace, the Pope stressed the four pillars of the world: Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom. By means of them, individuals, communities and humanity must advance the “new methods of relationships in human society”.
There is no peace without justice, no justice without love, no love without freedom. A person with extensive experience in the field of dialogue, added to the fifth principle: Prayer. It gives me great pleasure to say that these principles of peace were the topic of discussion at the Christian-Muslim Colloquium held in Rome in 2003.

3. Peace-building and the role of religious leaders
We are absolutely right when talk about promoting peace as “building”, it is like a house that is constructed brick by brick, day by day, by all those involved in this noble process. On the other hand, peas - is home to all mankind. Peace-building requires intelligence, wisdom, patience, cooperation, and a solid understanding of the importance of peace, real love for peace. Pope John XXIII was convinced that “peace - is the most precious grace” (il bene piu prezioso).
In addition to the term “peace – building”, we can use the word “peacekeepers” as well. Jesus proclaimed: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!”
In the process of peace-building the religious leaders play an important role, I would say a decisive role. In addition to the family and the school they are the most important teachers. They teach by word and especially by their own example. If their teaching is most revered for each person, his or her own dignity, rights, particularly rights to freedom of religion, universal brotherhood, forgiveness, kindness, the result of this will be definitely peace and harmony among all people and communities.
Today one of the symbols of hope is the presence of established systems of meetings and consultations between the religious leaders of different communities. A convincing example is the Forum of bishops and Ulema in Mindanao, southern Philippines, despite the fact that this is an area of tension and conflict this did not prevent the Christian and Muslim leaders to meet and seek peace and harmony.
Taking into account the importance of the role of religious leaders, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue together with Muslim partners has organized the Colloquium on the theme “The Responsibility of Religious Leaders, Especially in Times of Crisis”. Several years ago, the two organizations met to discuss the theme “Education of priests and imams”.
Dear friends!
Our world – that’s what we want to create, our future - this is what we shall choose and build together. Our presence as religious leaders, scholars and activists, representing our respective communities is an evidence of the expression of our desire and commitment to the development of friendly and constructive relations between the followers of all religions. Let us work in the name of peace, build peace, and live in peace in the name of peace!
 
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