ROME — The Vatican’s office for interreligious dialogue released a message to the world’s Muslims Friday, extending fervent best wishes for a “fruitful month of Ramadan.”
The month of Ramadan is “a time for spiritual healing and growth, of sharing with the poor, of strengthening bonds with relatives and friends,” the message states, and also a good moment for Christians “to further strengthen our relationships with you” and to “foster fraternity between Christians and Muslims.”
“It is in this spirit that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers its prayerful best wishes and hearty congratulations to you all,” reads the message, which the Vatican published in Arabic, Italian, French, and English.
The theme of the message is the protection of places of worship.
“For both Christians and Muslims, churches and mosques are spaces reserved for prayer, personal and communitarian alike,” it states. “They are constructed and furnished in a way that favours silence, reflection and meditation.”
Places of worship are “spaces for spiritual hospitality, where believers of other religions also join for some special ceremonies like weddings, funerals, feasts of the community etc.” the message notes. “Such practice is a privileged witness to what unites believers, without diminishing or denying what distinguishes them.”
The Vatican said that its message comes in the context of “recent attacks on churches, mosques and synagogues by wicked persons who seem to perceive the places of worship as a privileged target for their blind and senseless violence.”
Citing a joint document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the message says that the protection of places of worship 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,” it reads.
“With renewed esteem and fraternal greetings, in the name of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we convey friendly wishes for a fruitful month of Ramadan and a joyous ‘Id al-Fitr,” concludes the message, signed by the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.