Fr. Bader: Religion contributes to finding solutions to problems

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Fr. Bader: Religion contributes to finding solutions to problems

Amman-en.abouna.org

Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader has stressed that the UAE is regarded a bright international model by adopting a humanitarian approach that espouses all individuals of different religious, racial and ethnic denominations, and directing them towards contributing to the attainment of a fruitful future for all while incorporating a wise insight into the need to seek initiatives that consolidate the values of tolerance and common living.

In an interview published by UAE newspaper Al-Ittihad, he said, by a Decree Law on Combating Discrimination and Hatred, the UAE launched a propitious approach related to the prohibition of infringement of religions, sanctities and beliefs where everyone enjoys respect, appreciation, and the freedom to practise religious rites. The law also presented a new universal and pioneering concept by launching the Ministry of Tolerance, a matter which transcends the concept of ministries devoted to religious affairs and sanctities which proceeds to the concept of moving tolerance to another stage in line with global efforts and initiatives. This makes the Ministry of Tolerance an Emirati print that contributes to the promotion of peaceful common living among all.

Fr. Bader pointed out that with the escalation of political crises, as well as intolerance and religious extremism, the world needs the wise, as well as the voice of moderation and reason more than ever. This position is followed sincerely by the wise UAE leadership through its adoption of moderation, wisdom, and a positive discernment of the future, which is needed in the Arab world. This is what the Arab world needs, whose youth seek a positive and optimistic atmosphere in the face of the tragic and melancholic situations, at a time when we look forward to propitious and promising initiatives that bring hope to the children and the youth making them look forward with hope towards the future.

Fr. Dr. Bader continued: “We view the great initiative of the humanitarian brotherhood--relevant to the meeting between His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib in the UAE in February 2019 and the launching of the Document on 'Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together'--as a universal and a comprehensive humanitarian enlightenment, as well as a rich contribution to the long interfaith dialogue and the relevant initiatives that have been issued in this field, including positive views, sound intellectual principles, and a deep human essence that entrenches the role of tolerance as a universal behavioral merit.

He referred to the need to strengthen cooperation among Arab countries so as to launch the initiatives we all look for, at a time when there are various forms of cultural, economic and intuitive cooperation. But work must now focus on cooperation and dialogue among religions and religious communities, so as to contribute to entrenching tolerance as part of the intellectual structure of our Arab societies and leaders so as to proceed towards wisdom, and moderation, as well as to promote the concepts which religions call for including dialogue, acceptance of the others, and viewing the future with optimism. This needs activation of the framework of religious cooperation and constructive dialogue within Arab discussions in conferences and forums.

On the challenges facing inter-religious dialogue, he noted that intolerance and intellectual closure are the most prominent challenges in the path of dialogue and encounter. We are surprised at how these venomous ideas were introduced into our Arab world--which may have emanated from the West--and whose seeds have successfully been sowed in our Arab soil. This justifies the need to heal and treat the minds affected by this poisonous intellectual growth, and the need to protect others that have not been affected by extremism. It is a difficult task that requires redoubling the efforts facing extremist trends.

He pointed out that intellectual conferences and dialogues should neither be confined to intellectual and religious elites nor should they be confined within specific horizons. They should be moved to other stations, particularly to the streets, schools, universities and youth gatherings, in order to enable young people to realize that there are enlightened and moderate currents and voices of wisdom in the Arab world which are able to disseminate noble and authentic values, in addition to moderate views that contribute to the development of minds and clearing them from the impurities of extremism.

Fr. Bader pointed out that there is another challenge facing dialogue between religions, namely the impact of policies on religious discourse. This highlights the importance of activating cooperation between political and religious discourse while distinguishing the difference between them. In such case, the religious discourse should neither be politicized nor vice versa by associating the two concepts. The religious discourse should furnish the world of politics with its noble values.

In response to a question about the negative impact of groups that use religion as a means of systematic violence and terrorism, Fr. Bader pointed out that the recent years have witnessed the spread of an incorrect concept indicating that religion is part of the problem facing the Arab world, given the martyrdom of followers of some extremist movements by resorting to some incorrect religious data and justifying violence in the name of religion. This is a distortion of religion and we cannot adopt a project that claims that religion justifies violence since religion has nothing to do with this as all religions call for dialogue, peace and love among all. He drew attention to introducing young people to the fact that religion is not a cause of the current problems, but it rather contributes to attaining a solution. This is what we seek to spread, and we want to ensure cooperation in this regard through the Document on 'Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together' so as to develop solutions to some of the dilemmas facing humanity at the current time.

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