PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Christians and Muslims:
Protecting together the places of worship
MESSAGE FOR THE MONTH OF RAMADAN AND
1441 H. / 2020 A.D.
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,
The month of Ramadan is so central in your religion and therefore dear to you at
personal, familial and social levels. lt is a time for spiritual healing and growth, of sharing with the poor, of
strengthening bonds with relatives and friends.
For us, your Christian friends, it is a propitious time to further strengthen
our relationships with you, by greeting you, meeting you on this occasion and,
where possible, by sharing in an iftar with you. Ramadan and 'Jd
al-Fitr thus are special occasions to foster fraternity between Christians
and Muslims. It is in this spirit that the
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers
its prayerful best wishes and hearty congratulations to you all.
The thoughts we like to share with you this year following our cherished
tradition are about the protection of the places of worship.
As we all know, the places of worship occupy an important place in Christianity
and Islam, and in other religions as well. For both Christians and Muslims,
churches and mosques are spaces reserved for prayer, personal and communitarian
alike. They are constructed and furnished in a way that favours silence,
reflection and meditation. They are spaces where one can go deep in
himself/herself, so favouring for God-experience in silence. A place of worship
of any religion therefore is "a house of prayer" (Isaiah, 56,7).
Places of worship are also spaces for spiritual hospitality, where
believers of other religions also join for some special ceremonies like
weddings, funerals, feasts of the community etc. While they participate in the
events in silence and with due respect to the religious observances of the
believers of that particular religion, they also savour the hospitality accorded
to them. Such practice is a privileged witness to what unites believers, without
diminishing or denying what distinguishesthem.
In this regard, it is worthwhile to recall
what Pope Francis said when he made a
visit to the Heydar Aliyev Mosque, in Baku (Azerbaijan) on Sunday, 2
October 2016: "Meeting one another in fraternal friendship in this place of
prayer is a powerful sign, one that shows the harmony which religions can build
together, based on personal relations and on the good will of those
In the context of recent attacks on churches, mosques and synagogues by wicked
persons who seem to perceive the places of worship as a privileged target for
their blind and senseless violence, it is worth noting what the
"Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together", signed by Pope Francis
and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi, on 4
February 2019, said: "The protection of places of worship - synagogues,
churches and mosques - is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws
agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by
violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of
religions as well as a clear violation of international law".
While appreciating the efforts done by the international community at different
levels for the protection of the places of worship worldwide, it is our hope
that our mutual esteem, respect and cooperation will help strengthen the bonds
of sincere friendship, and enable our communities to safeguard the places of
worship to assure for coming generations the fundamental freedom to profess
one's own beliefs.
With renewed esteem and fraternal greetings, in the name of the Pontifical CouncilforInterreligiousDialogue,weconveyfriendlywishesforafruitfulmonth of
Ramadan and a joyous 'Idal-Fitr.
From the Vatican, 17 April 2020
Miguel Angel Cardinal Ayuso Guixot,MCCJ
Rev. Msgr. Indunil Kodithuwakku Janakaratne Kankanamalage
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends, every year, a message
to the Islamic community on the occasion of the month of Ramadan and 'Id al-Fitr,
the feast that concludes it.
This year's message, which was prepared before the spread of the COVID 19
pandemic, reflects on the theme of respect to and protection of places of
As the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue, I wish and pray that Christians and Muslims, united in a spirit of
fraternity, demonstrate solidarity with the Coronavirus-affected humanity
invoking the Almighty and Merciful God for the protection of every human being,
most specially, for the healing of the afflicted and for the grace to all to
overcome these difficult moments.