Collaboration Among Religions a Duty, Says Cardinal Poupard

Advice in an Age of Terrorism

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ROME, SEPT. 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- At a time of global terrorism, collaboration among peoples, cultures and religions is not an option but a necessity, said Cardinal Paul Poupard.



The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture presented his proposal Saturday when speaking at the capitol, in Rome, at the 2nd Interdependence Day, held on the third anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Other speakers at the event included Chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni of Rome and Iranian Muslim theologian Shahrazad Hushmand.

"We must combat," the cardinal stressed, "the globalization of terrorism with the globalization of responsible commitment to a civil and human coexistence that is truly interdependent, which takes into account the needs, expectations and capacities of those who live in this very world, in this very global village."

"We wish to affirm that cooperation among peoples, religions and cultures is not an option among many others, perhaps secondary or accessory; now it is a pressing urgency, a genuine necessity," he said.

"What happens today in the world affects all of us, and obliges us to reflect in depth on the causes and, above all, to commit ourselves to a real alternative, responsible [and] resolute, in the face of outrage, hatred and terror, in the face of war and death," Cardinal Poupard noted.

The first Interdependence Day, planned and organized by a U.S. intellectual, was held last year in Philadelphia.

The meeting this year was organized by the municipality of Rome, the Italian Workers' Christian Associations, the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Focolare Movement and non-confessional associations.

"We thought that after the horrors of World War II such an abominable and terrifying situation could not be repeated," Cardinal Poupard said. "Unfortunately, it has not been like this."

He continued: "We have remained horrified by the pictures of the children of Beslan, and have asked ourselves: How is something like this possible in the third millennium? How is so much barbarism and inhumanity possible? How can something so cruel be conceived, which doesn't even respect the innocence of children?"

According to the cardinal, "it is no longer a political or military clash, of opposing ideologies or political and religious views." Instead, he said, we are faced with "savage terrorism," which "has nothing to say to the world or humanity, which transforms men and women into ferocious animals, incapable of any gesture of humanity."

"Not even the categories of madness or pathology can explain to us what happened in Beslan," he added.

The cardinal also mentioned the commitment of many persons in humanitarian or peacekeeping activities, who have also been "victims of terrorism," as is the case of Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, the two Italian women volunteers recently kidnapped in Iraq.

"Their kidnapping, as that of many other civilians, has no possible justification," he said. "It is the negation of the absolute value of all human persons, their lives, dignity, as well as of human fraternity, collaboration, constructive dialogue and fraternal charity itself."

Cardinal Poupard illustrated two "positive signs" which have taken place in recent days in response to this situation: the meeting of religious and cultural leaders organized by the Sant'Egidio Community in Milan, and the protests of European Muslims against terrorism.

In these gestures, the cardinal sees a "new awareness of their responsibility which religions have at the beginning of this millennium."

"We have engaged in the dialogue of love," he added, recalling his days at the Milan meeting. "We have asked the God of love to give us the courage of love."

"This is our challenge. Not only is it possible, it is necessary and a duty," he said. "The unity of peoples, in respect of their many identities, is the very goal of interdependence at the world level."

This unity, he said, is threatened "by terrorist violence, war, unjust distribution of the world's resources, and social and cultural inequalities."

Last Sunday, associations, mayors, movements, representatives of at least 20 European countries signed the European Charter of Interdependence, presented by Luigi Bobba, president of the Italian Workers' Christian Associations.