ROME — The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has extended well-wishes to “dear Muslim brothers and sisters,” wishing them a fruitful month of Ramadan.
“We, Christians and Muslims, are called to be bearers of hope, for the present life and for the life to come, and to be witnesses, restorers and builders of this hope, especially for those experiencing difficulties and despair,” states the letter signed by the president and secretary of the Council.
We are “glad to offer you our fraternal good wishes for a month rich in divine blessings and spiritual advancement,” reads the letter, posted on the Vatican’s website this weekend. “Fasting, along with prayer, almsgiving and other pious practices, brings us closer to God our Creator and to all those with whom we live and work, and helps us to continue walking together on the path of fraternity.”
The letter, titled “Christians and Muslims: Witnesses of Hope,” underscores the need for “fraternal solidarity” during the “long months of suffering, anguish and sorrow” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
What we need most in these times, is hope, the letter asserts, a hope that goes beyond mere optimism because “its basis in something religious: God loves us, and therefore cares for us through his providence.”
“Hope arises from our belief that all our problems and trials have a meaning, a value and a purpose,” the letter adds, “however difficult or impossible it may be for us to understand the reason for them or to find a way out of them.”
“Hope also carries with it belief in the goodness present in the heart of every person,” it continues. “Many times, in situations of difficulty and despair, help, and the hope it brings, can come from those whom we least expect.”
Carrying on with one of Pope Francis’s favorite themes, the Council asserts that human fraternity is “a source of hope for all, especially for those in any kind of need.”
The generous solidarity shown persons of good will reminds “that the spirit of fraternity is universal, and that it transcends all boundaries: ethnic, religious, social and economic,” it states.
Hope also “enemies,” the letter adds, such as “lack of faith in God’s love and care; loss of trust in our brothers and sisters; pessimism; despair and its opposite, unfounded presumption; unfair generalizations based on one’s own negative experiences, and so forth.”
“These harmful thoughts, attitudes and reactions must be effectively countered, so as to strengthen hope in God and trust in all our brothers and sisters,” it notes.
“As a sign of our spiritual fraternity, we assure you of our prayer, and we send best wishes for a peaceful and fruitful Ramadan, and for a joyful ‘Id al-Fitr,’” the letter concludes.