Cardinal Ruini on Christian Response to Muslim Terrorism

President of Italian Episcopate Lays Out 3 Key Elements

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ROME, MARCH 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Christian response to Muslim terrorism involves the condemnation of all attacks against life, rejection of hatred, and the unity of the international community to address its causes, says Cardinal Camillo Ruini.



The president of the Italian bishops' conference articulated these three elements today when opening the meeting of the episcopate's Permanent Council.

Although speaking after the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid, the cardinal explained that his analysis is in reaction to the wave of Muslim-inspired attacks that have affected Washington, New York, Moscow, the Holy Land and Iraq.

"The first answer we must give consists -- as the Pope told us in the Angelus on Sunday, March 14 -- of prayer, fraternal solidarity toward those who have been stricken, but also and above all at the moral level, of the 'absolute condemnation of such unjustifiable acts,'" said Cardinal Ruini, who is also the Holy Father's vicar for Rome.

The masterminds and perpetrators of these crimes "kill as much as possible, with the goal of reaching in this way greater results for their odious strategy," he said.

"However, in not giving importance to the moral reaction that these actions cause, they show great shortsightedness, as they are unable to understand that this reaction will end by defeating them," the cardinal said.

The second element of response to terrorism expressed by Cardinal Ruini is "refusal to enter into a logic which, in a certain sense, is similar to that which inspires terrorism."

In particular, terrorism cannot make people give up "that ethics of fraternal love, without boundaries of race, culture or religion, which is expressed with the greatest force in the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he said.

"We must be alert, therefore, given the risks of hatred and intolerance, especially with Muslims, at this time: To give in to this would mean, in reality, to support the plans of the terrorists," the president of the episcopate said.

The third aspect of an answer, Cardinal Ruini said, is based in "the unity of objectives and sincere and active solidarity in prevention, and in repression, as well as in the elimination of the causes of terrorism itself."

"This calls for the profound unity of our people, although in legitimate diversity of views and cultural and political interpretations," he said. "Moreover, it implies at the international level, rapid and determined progress in the realization of the European Union and in the renewed cohesion between the two shores of the Atlantic."

"A more ample solidarity is no less essential, which can only have an adequate and fully authorized importance in the United Nations, despite its present limitations of structure and operational capacity, and, in particular, it must involve the Muslim nations themselves," the cardinal emphasized.

"Surely, with our concrete, sincere and extended help," he added, "the latter really have the possibility to influence positively in the breeding ground of this terrorism, in the first place at the spiritual and cultural level, but also at the social and economic level."

"The West," Cardinal Ruini concluded, "must avoid initiatives that make this task more difficult, which already calls for great commitment, long term, and must offer in particular its contribution to extinguish the powder keg of the Arab-Israeli conflict, enkindled for too long, with terrible consequences."