Invitation to interreligious dialog in Holland

Source: FSSPX News


On January 22, receiving the new ambassador of Holland to the Holy See, Monique Patricia Frank, there to present to him her credentials, John Paul II invited the people of the Netherlands to interreligious dialog. Faced with the challenges of immigration and a multicultural society, after having recalled that Holland had faced new tensions “resulting in the rapid transformation” of society, the pope stressed “the necessity and the urgency of a thorough dialogue between the different groups which make up the country” in order that everyone may learn how to know and respect the other. Provided that each has an unbiased knowledge of other cultures, not conditioned by negative prejudices, “it will be possible to establish peaceful relations between the different communities, in order to build together the common edifice of the nation.”

 “I once again took the initiative, now almost three years ago (January 24th, 2002),” said John Paul II, “to gather at Assisi the representatives of the main world religions.” He recalled that he had invited them to “encourage a profound dialogue between all religions” and to “absolutely abandon any recourse to violence for religious motives, and even to explicitly condemn it.”

 Monique Patricia Frank had previously recalled that her country, “known for its tolerance and its welcome to many foreigners, immigrants, political refugees and asylum seekers” had been shocked by the murder of the populist leader Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and the murder of the film director, Theo Van Gogh last November, followed by the burning of churches, mosques and schools.

 In her speech, the ambassador also stressed the efforts of her country to combat Aids, and the prevention of the illness in Holland and also in Africa. The pope made the position of the Holy See clear, which “considers it necessary above all else, to fight this disease in a responsible way, to encourage its prevention, in particular through education of respect for the sanctity of life and the formation and correct practice of sexuality, which assumes chastity and fidelity.” “At my request,” he added, “the Church has also mobilized in favor of victims and especially that they be assured of access to care and the necessary medicines, through the many treatment centers.”

 Since Holland exercised the presidency of the European Union up until December 24, 2004, the pope expressed his encouragement with regard to the European plan “as being a constructive contribution to peace on the continent itself, but also beyond, deeming it an opportunity for cooperation with other regions of the world.” Thus John Paul II reiterated his appeal to the governments of the European Union to “make renewed efforts together in favor of development, particularly in Africa, a neighboring continent and so close to Europe through historical links, by developing agreements of real cooperation and partnership.”

 John Paul II then noted that Dutch society, marked by the phenomenon of secularization, had embarked upon a new policy with regard to legislation concerning the beginning and the end of human life. Underlining once again the adherence of the Holy See to the absolute respect of the human person from conception to natural death, the pope invited the authorities and medical personnel, as well as all people who exercised an educational role, “to assess the gravity of these questions and consequently the importance of the choices they make, in order to build a society which is ever more attentive to people and their dignity.”

 Finally, the Sovereign Pontiff underlined the commitment of the Catholic community of the Netherlands, encouraging them to be “particularly attentive to the promotion of every day dialog between people, as much as between groups which make up society, especially in large urban areas, where the complexity of human relationships may engender great loneliness.” He called on the Catholic Church of the country to “place itself unreservedly at the service of the weakest, often marginalized in today’s society, marked by economic and social competition.”