The Holy See
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Hindus and Christians: 
educating their respective communities to dialogue

Dear Hindu Friends,

1. As you celebrate the Feast of Diwali I send greetings and good wishes in my own name and on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. May your celebration bring you much joy and happiness.

2. Mutual respect and esteem for our respective religious traditions lead to a greater awareness of our responsibility to cooperate in promoting social peace and harmony. War and violence waged in the name of religion are contrary to the true spirit of religion and can endanger its very existence. Education for dialogue, greater communication and practical cooperation will contribute to overcoming the causes of violence and to promoting a spirit of mutual understanding and respect. I propose that we intensify our efforts to foster relations and promote dialogue between our communities.

3. This proposal echoes that of the representatives of various religious traditions at the Interreligious Assembly held in the Vatican in 1999: "Education is a key for promoting interreligious harmony, religious freedom and respect for people of different religious traditions… Above all, education is committed to seeking truth, justice, peace and reconciliation. A very practical programme, which already exists in various places, is the joint examination of textbooks, not only of religion, but also – and perhaps especially – of history. The lamentable ignorance and misinformation with which we sometimes bring up our children concerning other people’s religious traditions need to be rectified. We must strive to present all religious traditions in an objective manner so that individuals belonging to these traditions can recognize themselves in that representation" (Final Report, 28 October 1999).

4. Education and training in promoting better relations between the followers of religions is an urgent priority. Growing awareness of religious pluralism should not lead to indifference. Dialogue, while respecting the religious traditions of others, requires us to be firmly rooted in our own religious tradition and to acknoweldge the objective differences between religions. Each religious community should devise its own approach to educating its followers in a spirit of dialogue, and indicate how they believe an attitude of dialogue could best be fostered in our respective communities. Furthermore, dialogue should be complemented by joint efforts to uphold the family, form the consciences of the young, defend fundamental moral and spiritual truths and values, increase the awareness of the need for a deeper spiritual life and promote exchange of accurate information about each other’s beliefs and practices.

5. Together, let us look forward to the future with hope that it will bring lasting peace for all. Happy Diwali.

Cardinal Francis Arinze,