MESSAGE OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL
Overcoming hatred with love
Dear Hindu Friends,
1. As people seeking for the Absolute you will pause for a short while on your spiritual journey and celebrate joyfully Deepavali, your ancient religious feast, which for you signifies the victory of truth over untruth, light over darkness, good over evil and life over death. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue I wish Hindus all over the world a happy feast of Diwali.
2. The reality of love is closely connected to truth, light, goodness and life. I would like to reflect on this theme of love, through which believers of different religions are invited to overcome the evil of hatred and distrust in contemporary society. The recent terrorist bomb attacks in Mumbai, India, are yet another example of these phenomena which so often end in brutal violence. I am sure that, enriched in the light of our particular religious traditions, our resolve to invite all believers to overcome hatred by love will benefit society at large. My own reflection is inspired by the first Encyclical letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (God is Love). The Pope wrote this letter, convinced that his message is both timely and significant “in a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence ” (n. 1).
3. The importance and demands of love can be best learned from God who, the Christian faith professes, is Himself Love, and whose eternal Son, for love of us, became incarnate in the Person of Jesus Christ. God is the source and fullness of all love. Our love for one another becomes worthy of its name only when it has its source in God and is nourished by our union with the same God. Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, for example, constantly renewed her love of neighbour and her selfless service to the poor in her encounter with God in incessant daily prayer.
4. God loves us all without exception and his love is unconditional. Our human response to God’s love must be spelt out in concrete stewardship of God’s creatures, especially to human beings. It is urgent and necessary that believers of different religions manifest jointly to the world that hatred can be overcome by love. In today’s complex societies, is it not possible for us to join hands and collaborate in seeking justice for all, working together on common projects, for the development of the downtrodden, the marginalised, the destitute, the orphan and the weak? “Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual” (Deus caritas est, n. 30). Moral and spiritual poverty, which are caused by breeding hatred in one’s heart, can be eradicated by believers who are filled with love and compassion. Love creates trust, which in turn, promotes genuine relationships among believers of different religions.
5. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ends his letter, Deus caritas est, with the following words: “Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working” (n. 39). The Pope’s words obviously refer to Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world. However, these words can also draw your attention since for you the meaning of your feast, Diwali, is symbolized by light. May our love finally overcome the darkness of hatred in the world! Happy Diwali to you, my dear Hindu friends!
Paul Cardinal Poupard,