PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
MESSAGE FOR THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
AND ‘Id al-Fitr1437 H. / 2016 a.d.
Christians and Muslims:
Beneficiaries and Instruments of Divine Mercy
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,
1. The month of Ramadan and ‘Id al-Fitr is an important religious
event for Muslims around the world, focused on fasting, prayer and good deeds,
and is esteemed by Christians, your friends and neighbours. On behalf of the
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Christians all over the
world, we extend best wishes for a spiritually rewarding fast, supported by good
deeds, and for a joyful feast.
As is our cherished custom, we wish to share with you on this occasion some
reflections in the hope of strengthening the spiritual bonds we share.
2. A theme that is close to the hearts of Muslims and Christians alike is
We know that Christianity and Islam both believe in a merciful God, who shows
his mercy and compassion towards all his creatures, in particular the human
family. He created us out of an immense love. He is merciful in caring for each
of us, bestowing upon us the gifts we need for our daily life, such as food,
shelter and security. God’s mercy is manifested in a particular way, however,
through the pardon of our faults; hence he is the one who pardons (al-Ghâfir),
but the one who pardons much and always (al-Ghafour).
3. To underscore the importance of mercy, His Holiness Pope Francis declared
a Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated from 8 December 2015 to 20
November 2016. In this regard he said: “Here… is the reason for the Jubilee:
because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a
time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch
with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone,
everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation” (“Homily”, 11 April 2015).
Your pilgrimage (hajj) to the Holy places, mainly Mecca and Medina, is
surely a special time for you to experience God’s mercy. In fact, among the
well-known aspirations addressed to Muslim pilgrims is: “I wish you a blessed
pilgrimage, praiseworthy efforts and the pardon of your sins”. Making a
pilgrimage to obtain God’s pardon for sins, both for the living and dead, is
truly a salient custom practice among believers.
4. We, Christians and Muslims, are called to do our best to imitate God. He,
the Merciful, asks us to be merciful and compassionate towards others,
especially those who are in any kind of need. So too he calls us to be forgiving
of one another.
When we gaze upon humanity today, we are saddened to see so many victims of
conflicts and violence – here we think in particular of the elderly, and
children and women, especially those who fall prey to human trafficking and the
many people who suffer from poverty, illness, natural disasters and
5. We cannot close our eyes to these realities, or turn away from these
sufferings. It is true that situation are often very complex and that their
solution exceeds our capacities. It is vital, therefore, that all work together
in assisting those in need. It is a source of great hope when we experience or
hear of Muslims and Christians joining hands to help the needy. When we do join
hands, we heed an important command in our respective religions and show forth
God’s mercy, thus offering a more credible witness, individually and communally,
to our beliefs.
May the Merciful and Almighty God help us to walk always along the path of
goodness and compassion!
6. We join our prayerful good wishes to those of Pope Francis for abundant
blessings during Ramadan and for a lasting joy of ‘Id al-Fitr.
Happy Feast to you all!
From the Vatican, 10 June 2016
Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran
Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I.