MESSAGE OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL
pleased to offer my cordial greetings to all of you on the occasion of the
joyful feast of Diwali. Children,
young adults or older persons, you all await with great longing for this feast
because every year, like fresh air, it restores your religious vigour and
enhances in you a renewed purpose to continue on the path which is prescribed by
your religious tradition. I believe
that such feasts are not purely social events but are, so to speak, meaningful
junctures in the life of human beings who are essentially religious by nature.
Feasts, such as Diwali, are therefore
particularly a time to reflect on the deeper and ultimate purpose of our life.
to our calendar, which is also widely followed in the world, this year is an
important one for us Christians as we commemorate the 2000th
anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Many
celebrations are being held throughout the world, but especially in Rome and in
the land where Jesus was born, and where he taught, suffered, died and rose
again. In the celebration of this event, people who do not share the same faith
in Jesus Christ are not forgotten. Indeed the Catholic Church lays special
emphasis on deepening friendship between Christians and people of other
religious traditions. We are convinced that together we can achieve much for the
good of the world. We see, for example, that our two religious traditions, Hindu
and Christian, each according to its distinctive teachings, give the mystery of
God the highest place in human life.
to the Ultimate Truth, the Sanatana Dharma
states: “Permanent among the impermanent, Conscious among the conscious, the
One among the many…the surveyor of all actions, dwelling in all creatures, the
witness… the unique, free from all attributes; Eye cannot see him, nor words
reveal him…he is utter fullness” (cf. Katha U. V,13; Svet.U.
VI,11; Mund. U. III, 1, 8; Brihad.U.
believe that Jesus Christ reveals the fullness of God’s Mystery: He is “the
Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…And from his
fullness have we all received, grace upon grace…grace and truth came through
Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, he has made him known” (John
1:14-18). Jesus taught love of
neighbour and showed compassion, particularly for the poor. He called for a
spirit of forgiveness and forgave those who were putting him to death. He showed
himself to be the Redeemer, liberating
those who are in the bonds of ignorance and sin. Is not Jesus thus a model and a
permanent message for humanity?
It is my
sincere wish and prayer that we Hindus and Christians, through our mutual
respect, esteem and friendship, may become concrete examples and a proof of
harmony and peace for many others throughout India and beyond. May the world
around us, particularly the world of the oppressed, the marginalised, the
forgotten ones and the innocent victims of injustice, feel the warmth of our
growing friendship. May both Christians and Hindus continue to grow in mutual
respect and understanding and be enriched together in order that they may
contribute to building peace and harmony in our world. A spirit of openness and
dialogue has been characteristic of both our respective traditions. While
acknowledging the fundamental differences in our two religions, if nevertheless
we show each other respect this will help not only for our own mutual enrichment
but will serve as an example and an encouragement to the religious world at
Pope John Paul II who, during his last journey to India, reminded us once again
that the “Catholic Church wants to enter ever more deeply into dialogue with
the religions of the world. She sees dialogue as an act of love which has its
roots in God himself. ‘God is love’, proclaims the New Testament, ‘and
whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him…Let us love, then,
because he has loved us first…no one who fails to love the brother whom he
sees can love God whom he has not seen’ (First
Letter of St. John, 4:16, 19-20)” [Meeting
at Vigyan Bhavan with Representatives of Other Religions and Christian
Confessions, 7th November 1999].
It is in this spirit that I renew my greetings and send best wishes for a
life of peace and serenity. Happy Diwali!