* * *
The Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue with the Monotheistic Religions held its annual meeting, in the offices of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City, 23 February 2002, equivalent to 11 Dhu al-Hijja 1422.
The two delegations, headed respectively by H.E. Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and H.E. Sheikh Fawzi Fadel Zafzaf, President of the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions, discussed the theme Religious Extremism and its Effect on Humanity. Each side presented a paper on the topic. In the ensuing discussions the following points were made:
-- Extremism, from whatever side it may come, is to be condemned as not being in conformity with the teachings of the two religions.
-- Extremists, particularly religious extremists, can sometimes be sincere in their intentions, yet they tend to see themselves as the only ones in the right and to show intolerance to those who do not agree with them, not accepting others with their differences, tending to violate the rights of others, and sometimes using or approving violence.
-- To counteract extremism dialogue can be useful provided that the conditions for a positive outcome can be guaranteed.
-- Yet dialogue alone is not sufficient to overcome extremism; there is always need for attention to basic aspects of society: family life, education, social development, the influence of the mass media, promotion of justice and solidarity within countries and on an international scale.
-- The two bodies composing the Committee resolved, each for its part, to continue in the path of dialogue and to influence public opinion in order to bring about a rejection of extremism.
The Committee met, as is now its custom, on the eve of the anniversary of Pope John Paul II´s historic visit to al-Azhar in 2000. This visit, which continues to inspire the Members of the Committee to work closely together, was commemorated during a special public session held at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome.
[Original in English]