Yesterday, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, released a message to Hindus preparing to celebrate the feast of Deepavali (often contracted to Diwali). In his remarks, Cardinal Tauran applauds the values celebrated in this festival and asserts that religious freedom is an essential component of peaceful coexistence. The Vatican Information Services site reports:
… The message, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the pontifical council, is entitled: “Christians and Hindus: Together in Promoting Religious Freedom”. Deepavali celebrates the victory of truth over falsehood, of light over darkness, of life over death, of good over evil. The celebrations, which begin this year on 26 October, last three days and mark the beginning of a new year, a time for family reconciliation, especially among brothers and sisters, and adoration of the divine.
Religious freedom, the text reads, currently takes “center stage in many places, calling our attention to those members of our human family exposed to bias, prejudice, hate propaganda, discrimination and persecution on the basis of religious affiliation. Religious freedom is the answer to religiously motivated conflicts in many parts of the world. Amid the violence triggered by these conflicts, many desperately yearn for peaceful coexistence and integral human development.”
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is a dicastery (department) of the Roman Curia that strives tirelessly to achieve three central goals. The council’s profile on the Vatican website summarizes them thus:
- to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions;
- to encourage the study of religions;
- to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.