Heads of Czech Catholic Church Hosted by Arabian Envoys

On April 7, 2011, the Prague archbishop Dominik Duka OP was hosted at a sumptuous dinner with ambassadors of Islamic countries who maintain diplomatic relationships with the Czech Republic. The apostolic nuncius to the Czech Republic, Diego Causero, was also present, and the chief host was the Indonesian ambassadoress Emeria Siregar.
Published: 8. 4. 2011 19:00

Prague: Archbishop Duka was greeted on behalf of the assembly by the Syrian ambassadoress Nadra Sayaf, who emphasized the Christian features of Islam that were respectfully accepted by the Muslims. "It is love, tolerance, justice and temperance that form the true face of Islam. The deeds of a handful of fanatics do not reflect its spirit," stated the ambassadoress. The archbishop presented in his speech afterwards the Church's perspective of Islam according to the Second Vatican Council. He invoked the Islamic countries to disavow from fundamentalist manifestations of religious violence and from the persecution of Christians. "An insult given to Islam is an offence to our Christian faith as well. I plead that such demonstrations are not revenged on innocent people, Christians who did not perpetrate them," said the archbishop.

The ensuing discussion concentrated on the ways moral code is being impugned, especially among the youth, and how the monotheist religions can be useful to restore it. The apostolic nuncius, Diego Causero contributed to the discussion with his detailed knowledge of the state of things in Syria where he had been active for many years. The debaters agreed that on both sides, prejudice capable of overriding legislative advancements still plays the greatest role in conflicts between Muslims and Christians, especially in lower social circles. "The distance between Muslims and Christians is not caused by religion alone, but by the way it is conveyed through some of its representatives," said Diego Causero.

Another issue that stimulated discussion was found in different notions of religious freedom in Islam and Christianity. Archbishop Duka expressed his conviction that the Islamic world understands religious freedom as freedom of the family or community, whereas the Western world stresses the freedom of every individual. This could also be one of the reasons for the problems witnessed in the Near East.

In accord with religious understanding the Syrian ambassadoress has been able to witness in the religiously diverse Sumatran region as well as in her religiously mixed family who come from there. She has also prepared events of inter-religious dialogue in cooperation with Forum 2000, and an exhibition of Indonesian art in the Dominican monastery for April, 2011.

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