Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee
A statement of the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee, made up of representatives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheist Religions, written at the conclusion of their 9th meeting and published by the Vatican press office.
With the help of God the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee held its ninth meeting in the Vatican, 19-20 January 2004, equivalent to 27-28 Dhu al-Qa'da 1424. The Catholic delegation was headed by Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City, while the Islamic delegation was headed by Prof. Dr Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, Jeddah.
The theme was Human Dignity and Humanitarian Rights in Armed Conflicts. This was treated from a religious point of view according to the teaching of our two religious traditions.
There followed an exchange on Christian-Muslim relations with regard to some current concerns. Both sides agreed on the following points:
1) Because we, Christians and Muslims, believe in one God, we acknowledge that peace is a name of God, and that human dignity is a gift of Almighty God. We therefore appeal for continuous prayer for peace, and we affirm that justice and peace are the basis of relations and of interaction among human persons.
2) We appeal for an immediate end to all conflicts, including all forms of armed conflict, as well as all forms of aggression against the security and stability of peoples. We affirm the rights of peoples to self-determination, so that human life be spared, especially that of innocent people, children, women, the elderly and the disabled.
3) We appeal for the full respect for humanitarian law and for the rights of civilians, as well as those of prisoners, during armed conflict; and furthermore that no one be prevented form access to water, food, medicine, and medical care. We also appeal [for] the preservation of infrastructures, property, homes, trees, animals and all that is necessary for life. This appeal is based on common religious values and the need to uphold international conventions.
4) We appeal for respect for the sacred character of places of worship and for their protection in time of war and in peace, and for the right of worship to be upheld.
5) We affirm the right to religious freedom and the practice of our religions according to their particularities.
6) We are convinced that violence generates violence, and that this vicious circle should end. We declare that dialogue is the best way for treating conflicts and wars and for realizing justice and peace among human beings and societies, and therefore we encourage the development of the culture of dialogue.
The participants were honored to be received in Audience by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who expressed appreciation for the work of the Committee and encouraged it to continue its endeavors to promote peace.
20 January 2004/28 Dhu al-Qa'da 1424
Head of the Catholic delegation
Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald
Head of the Islamic delegation
Prof. Dr Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie