In memoriam of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

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Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran holds talks with CCSM Director Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader (file photo)

In memoriam of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader

With the passing away of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, aged 75, the world of interfaith dialogue and its institutions have lost one of its most important symbols and world figures.

The cardinal was born in Bordeaux in April 1943. After completing classical studies at the “Michel Montaigne” High School of the French city, and after two years spent in the diocesan Major Seminary, he was sent to Rome as a student of the Pontifical French Seminary and the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he had completed his theological and philosophical studies, graduating in philosophy and theology.

Ordained priest on 20 September 1969, he served as parish vicar of St. Eulalia in Bordeaux. He later began to attend courses in Canon Law at the Catholic Institute of Toulouse. In 1973, he attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (where the diplomatic staff of the Holy See is trained) and the Pontifical Gregorian University, graduating in Canon Law. Since 2007, Cardinal Tauran has been named as head of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran visited Jordan several times. He was the one who orchestrated the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Jordan on March 4, 1994 at a time when he was foreign minister. He visited Jordan on July 9, 1994 and met with King Hussein. He also accompanied Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Jordan in 2009, especially during his historic visit to Al-Hussein Ben Talal Mosque. He also accompanied Pope Francis in May 2014 during his visit to Jordan, and participated in several conferences held in Jordan, especially with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought as well as in the meetings of the permanent Catholic-Muslim Forum, which was launched in accordance with “A Common Word between Us and You” document. He also chaired the Vatican delegations at several conferences held in Jordan and in the Vatican in association with the the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies.

One of the most prominent contributions of Cardinal Tauran in Jordan was his participation in the “Conference of Challenges Facing Christian Arabs “ which convened under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II on September 3-4, 2013. During the conference, Cardinal Tauran delivered an address in which he said: “Let us continue to live together rather than next to one another. Let us continue the march towards interfaith dialogue and make it credible. Let us, Christians and Muslims, be united in reminding everybody that religion and violence do not share a common denominator.”

May Cardinal Tauran’s soul rest in peace. He was the leader of interfaith dialogue. His illness did not stood in the way of fulfilling his major duties in interfaith dialogue whose most outstanding are the restoration of dialogue between the Vatican and Al-Azhar in 2017, his leading of the Vatican delegation to an international conference held at Al-Azhar, his visit to Jerusalem, as well as his continuous call to maintain Jerusalem as the capital of two peoples and of the followers of the three religions. He also visited Doha, Vienna and Beirut, which were followed by his first historic visit to Saudi Arabia a few months ago where he was accompanied by his Jordanian secretary Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, who has been working in the field of interfaith dialogue at the Vatican for over 25 years.

Consequently, as the world awaits naming a person who can continue the legacy of the leader of interfaith dialogue, Cardinal Tauran, we say:” The passing away of this enlightened knight makes us pray that his soul would rest in peace. We also thank the Almighty God for the cultural heritage as well as the friendly relations that he knitted between followers of religions. This also makes us concentrate on what brings us together rather than what separates us, and remember Cardinal Tauran address last year when he said that “the continuation of dialogue is a gift and enrichment to humanity, while freezing or terminating the dialogue is a gift to violence and terrorism.”

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