VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic and Muslim leaders meeting in Rome said religion can humanize and civilize communities when followers actually adhere to their faith’s teachings about loving God and neighbor.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Amman-based Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies held their fourth colloquium May 3-4 and examined “shared values in social and political life” from the perspective of Christians and Muslims.

Pope Francis met with participants May 4 and said his visit to Jordan in 2014 was “a beautiful memory that I carry with me.”


He praised participants’ dedication to the constructive path of dialogue, especially at a time when “we have become used to the destruction caused by wars,” he said in brief, off-the-cuff remarks.

Dialogue involves stepping outside oneself and listening to the other, he said. “It is the first step of a journey. Following this meeting of the word, hearts meet and begin a dialogue of friendship, which ends with holding hands. Word, hearts, hands. It’s simple! A little child knows how to do it,” he said.

The participants released a written statement at the end of the dialogue meeting, agreeing on the need to recognize and guarantee the inalienable rights and dignity God has bestowed on everyone and to protect them with use of the law.

“We believe in the humanizing and civilizing role of our religions when their followers adhere to their principles of worshipping God and loving and caring for the other,” said the final statement, which was released at the Vatican May 9.

The participants said Muslims and Christians share many commonalities, which “constitute a solid basis (for) peacefully and fruitfully living together, also with persons of goodwill who do not profess a particular religion.”

They pledged their solidarity with all those in need, regardless of their religious, ethnic or cultural background and they underlined that assistance “should be offered out of compassion” and “should never be used to proselytize.”

Expressing solidarity with victims of violence and armed conflict, the participants said that “respect for international law, dialogue, justice, mercy, compassion are values and adequate means to achieve peace and harmony.”

The Vatican delegation was led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the interreligious dialogue council, and included dialogue experts from Iraq, Syria, Algeria and Indonesia, as well as the former ambassador of Canada to the Holy See, Anne Leahy.

The Muslim delegation was led by Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal, chairman of the institute’s board of trustees, and included dialogue experts from Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.