Christians and Muslims ‘called to be bearers of hope’

The Vatican has released a statement urging Christians and Muslims to be “bearers of hope” on the occasion of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan last week.

The statement released by Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue said Christians and Muslims should also be “witnesses, restorers and builders” of hope “especially for those experiencing difficulties and despair.”

The statement was released on April 16 and was signed by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, head of the Vatican’s interreligious dialogue council, and Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, the council’s secretary.

The Vatican statement acknowledged that the past year has been marked by “long months of suffering, anguish and sorrow, especially during the lockdown periods” in many countries.

“The divine assistance that we need and seek, especially in circumstances like those of the current pandemic, is manifold: God’s mercy, pardon, providence and other spiritual and material gifts,” read the statement.

The message said “hope arises from our belief that all our problems and trials have a meaning, a value and a purpose, however difficult or impossible it may be for us to understand the reason for them or to find a way out of them.”

It said that hope “also carries with it belief in the goodness present in the heart of every person.”

“Many times, in situations of difficulty and despair, help, and the hope it brings, can come from those whom we least expect,” it added.

The statement quoted a passage from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli tutti, wherein the pontiff invited everyone to renewed hope because it “speaks to us of something deeply rooted in every human heart, independently of our circumstances and historical conditioning.”

Ramadan is the most important month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims believe that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

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