PRESS RELEASE
Catholicosate of Cilicia
Communication and Information Department
Contact: V.Rev.Fr.Krikor Chiftjian, Communications Officer
Tel: (04) 410001, 410003
Fax: (04) 419724
E- mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/

PO Box 70 317
Antelias-Lebanon

Armenian version: http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/doc/Arme nian.htm

"RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED POLITICS AND
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED RELIGION
MAY GENERATE FUNDAMENTALISM"

SAID HIS HOLINESS ARAM I


In a key-note address delivered to a Christian-Muslim conference (28
February-2 March) in Beirut, Lebanon, His Holiness Aram I raised critical
issues pertaining to Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Organized by the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue more than two
hundreds scholars, theologians, community leaders from different countries
took part in the conference.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I begun his speech by making two affirmations:
first, religion has become a key player in Modern societies; second,
dialogue between religions has become indispensable in multi-religious
societies.

Moving from this general affirmation to Christian-Muslim dialogue, Aram I
reminded that the following facts need to be taken into consideration:

1) Islam and Christianity with their teachings, values and traditions touch
the daily life of people. Religion is part of their daily life.

2) Islam and Christianity, as monotheistic religions, share common roots and
traditions.

3) For centuries these religions have lived together; this living together
has developed affinities in many spheres of their life.

4) Dialogue is an existential reality. We are involved in dialogue of life.

Addressing more specifically the theme of the conference, "Mutual Respect"
His Holiness Aram I developed the following points as basic requirements to
reach a quality of life sustained by mutual respect.-

1) Mutual respect implies accepting the presence of the "other". It means
rejecting ignorance and arrogance, self-centeredness and self-sufficiency.

2) Mutual respect requires mutual knowledge, which generates mutual
understanding and respect.

3) Mutual respect calls for accepting our differences. Although Christianity
and Islam have commonalties, they fundamentally differ in their theological
teaching, moral and social values. We must not try to compromise them; such
an attempt endangers the integrity and identity of religions; we must accept
and respect our differences.

4) Accepting our differences leads us to have a clearer self-understanding
and inclusive understanding through interaction.

5) Religion is a strong identity-marker. Religious identity is stronger than
ethnic or cultural identity; it builds walls and causes mistrust. Only an
open and frank dialogue can overcome mistrust. Mutual trust is crucial for
living together.

6) We must move from mere coexistence to living together. Living together
must be sustained by shared values and common participation. A community
based on political consensus is precarious. It must be founded on common and
basic values and objectives.

His Holiness then identified four specific areas which need deeper
discussion in a Christian-Muslim dialogue: these are:

1) How can we broaden common objectives and develop a common vision?

2) Religion and politics is a critical area. Religiously motivated politics
may generate fundamentalism and isolation. On the other hand, religion
cannot be apolitical. The interaction between the two must be clarified
preserving distinctiveness of each.

3) Due to growing globalization and secularism the decay of moral values is
a fact. Two religions can work together to address this issue.

4) What are the implications of co-citizenship? How can we develop a system
of governance based on equal rights and full participation?

His Holiness concluded his address with the following words.- "We need each
other to face common problems, address common questions and combat common
evils. We must not only talk but also listen to each other. We must not talk
about and against each other, we must talk with each other. Christianity and
Islam are called to develop a vision of community where hate is transformed
into respect, intolerance into acceptance, and isolation into integration.
They are called to build communities where diversities are preserved and
common values are deepened, where working together on issues of common
concern is a participatory process".

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View the photos here:
http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/do c/Photos/Photos200.htm
http://www.armenianorthodox church.org/v04/doc/Photos/Photos201.htm
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The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is one of the two Catholicosates of
the Armenian Orthodox Church. For detailed information about the Ecumenical
activities of the Cilician Catholicosate, you may refer to the web page of
the Catholicosate, http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org The Cilician
Catholicosate, the administrative center of the church is located in
Antelias, Lebanon.