As Muslims around the world celebrate the month of Ramadan, the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue urges Christians and Muslims to show solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given an interview to Vatican News’ Hélène Destombes.
He spoke about the Council’s annual message for the Islamic month of Ramadan and the feast of Eid al-Fitr.
Here is a transcript of the interview:
Q: As we approach the feast of the End of Ramadan, what can we say about this celebration in the current context?
As always, I see it as essential, important and significant for our Muslim friends. In a way, just as the celebration of Easter was for us, this year the feast takes on a special significance for them because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think Ramadan has taken on a more interior dimension this year, since the communal aspect cannot be celebrated. That is why, as President of the PCID, I would like to add my wish that Christians and Muslims – united in a spirit of fraternity – will show solidarity with humanity which has been severely affected, and address their prayers to Almighty and Merciful God, that He may extend His protection to every human being so that these difficult times may be overcome.
Q: What is the content of this year’s Message?
Each year the Dicastery offers the Islamic community a theme common to both religions.
In particular this year we have emphasised the theme of protecting places of worship. It was inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity, where Pope Francis, together with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, said that “the protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law.” These acts are condemned by believers and non-believers alike. The need for freedom of religion is a right and a duty.
Q: What contribution can dialogue between people of different religions make in this situation, and with a view to the future?
I feel the need to refer to what Pope Francis has called us to in this difficult reality, that is, to spread the “contagion of hope” in order to face the current challenges and those of the immediate future. Religious leaders of different faiths will be called to promote unity, solidarity and fraternity, so that we can all emerge from this better than we were before and help our societies to be ready to change all that is necessary, not by following only the laws of economics and profit.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.