Now´s the Time to Dialogue on Religion and Culture, Says John Paul II

Message to Congress Held in Cyprus

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A conference in Cyprus on dialogue between religions and culture "is most timely," says John Paul II in a message for the event.



The congress was organized by the Archangelos Cultural Foundation of the Holy Orthodox Monastery of Kykkos, in collaboration with the Department of Communication and Mass Media, Cultural Section, of the Panteion University in Athens.

The dialogue between cultures and religions, the Pope explained in his message sent to the apostolic nuncio in Cyprus, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, "carries with it the challenge to foster practical ways of improving understanding among peoples, and thus forms the basis upon which to face many of the problems burdening the human family at the beginning of this millennium."

"The tyranny of injustice, egoism and prejudice can only be defeated by a far-reaching resurgence of the human spirit in individual hearts and in relations between the peoples of the world," the papal message continued.

"It is my heartfelt prayer that the meeting in Nicosia will show that there is no basis, either in theory or in practice, for any discrimination between individual and individual or between people and people; all share the same human dignity and the rights which flow from it," the Pope added.

"At Assisi, the town of St. Francis, many leaders of the world´s religions gathered last Jan. 24 to pray for peace and to commit themselves to serving the cause of peace," the Holy Father stressed.

"They wished to show that genuine religious belief is an inexhaustible wellspring of mutual respect and harmony among peoples; indeed, it is the chief antidote to violence and conflict," he added.

The event in Nicosia, as well as the interreligious encounter involving the three monotheistic religions convened last December in Brussels by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, "are signs of genuine hope," John Paul II said.

"I am confident that the present meeting in Cyprus will further strengthen dialogue among religions and cultures as an essential part of the search for peace in the world," he added. "I therefore ask the Lord to pour out his blessings upon the participants, and I assure them of the Catholic Church´s irrevocable commitment to this cause."