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Document 12

Pope builds bridges to Jewish, Muslim Germans

The Pope's powerful words about joint efforts to build bridges between religions are being drawn to New Zealand attention by Wellington Marist Fr John Craddock - with a call to Christians, Jews and Muslims to engage in dialogue.

In mid August 2005, Pope Benedict XVI visited Cologne’s ancient Jewish Synagogue, destroyed by the Nazis in 1938 and rebuilt after the war. After recalling the appalling holocaust and its devastation of Jewish people and property, the Pope confirmed the Church's commitment to greater understanding among peoples. He called for "tolerance, respect, friendship and peace between all peoples, cultures and religions." Benedict encouraged sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, saying to the very large assembly, "that only through communication will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress toward a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. The Ten Commandments," he said, "is for us a shared legacy and commitment."

Fr John Craddock, a Wellington Marist Centre based Catholic Priest,reported on these comments and actions by the Pope. Fr Craddock, 60, a former Canterbury University chaplain, has 30 years experience as a school teacher in New Zealand and the Solomon Islands.

The German born Pontiff visited Islamic leaders of Germany and said: "Dialogue, if it is to be sincere, must not gloss over or underestimate the existing differences: in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed precisely in those areas, we need to show respect for one another.

Pope calls for working together
Pope Benedict XVI proposed a joint effort to give "more harmonious witness and to work together on the practical level for the defence and promotion of human rights and the sacredness of human life, for family values, for social justice and for peace in the world. He told the leaders, "You, therefore, have a great responsibility for the formation of the younger generation. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope. As Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. Inter-religious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends. Young people from many parts of the world are here in Cologne as living witnesses of solidarity, brotherhood and love. They are the first fruits of a new dawn for humanity.

Pope wants bridge building continued
"I affirm that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole I pray with all my heart, dear Muslim friends, that the merciful and compassionate God may protect you, bless you and enlighten you always. May the God of peace lift up our hearts, nourish our hope and guide our steps on the paths of the world."

Powerful words for New Zealand
Fr Craddock, of the Catholic Society of Mary says "these are powerful words and a call to each of us to engage in dialogue with people of cultural diversity, so that by knowing them better, we may come to appreciate them more."

In this way, people of different cultural backgrounds will not only tolerate one another but become like brothers and sisters, fellow citizens enabling the world to be a better home.

"Here in NZ, we are conscious of the many new migrants from many different backgrounds, especially newly arrived Asians and refugees people from Islamic regions. How can we in our little groups and as individuals reach out to these brothers and sisters?

He has passed these comments to 100 Marist groups in New Zealand, and posted them for world wide attention on websites, a follow up to the citizenship education network he attended in Wellington on 22 August.

Upated 27 August 2005


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