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World Interfaith Harmony Week
1 - 7 February 2013

World Interfaith Harmony Week

Archbishop Chullikatt (Holy See)

My delegation takes this opportunity to thank the delegation of Jordan for having brought forward resolution 65/5 on promoting goodwill among religions in order to advance a culture of peace. For several years now, the United Nations has taken up consideration of this agenda item. Over 10 years ago, Member States adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (resolution 53/243), and not long thereafter adopted the first resolution on the promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation.

The creation of a culture of peace among the peoples of the world is not a task to be taken lightly. All persons have a responsibility each and every day to promote peace, tolerance and mutual respect among all persons of the various religions traditions. Setting aside a week in the coming year for the purpose of raising consciousness regarding our common commitment in this regard certainly highlights the importance of this responsibility and can be instrumental in concretely translating love of God into love of neighbour, which means not only those of our own religious tradition, but each and every person, because everyone has dignity and value.

My delegation commends the manner in which the mission of Jordan carried out consultations regarding the present resolution. Some of my delegation’s proposals were taken into consideration. At the same time, however, my delegation hoped that the resolution would have focused more on the importance of dialogue among religions at the institutional and authoritative levels.

In this regard, for example, one thinks of the various formal responses to A Common Word Between Us and You, including the Catholic-Muslim forum, which is an ongoing initiative in which many scholars of both religions have been meeting on a regular basis to advance interreligious dialogue. Moreover, the resolution does not clearly express the difference between faith at a personal level and religion at a more institutional level. In this sense, my delegation would have liked to have the title of the resolution changed from “World Interfaith Harmony Week” to “Worldwide Week of Interreligious Dialogue/Understanding” or “Worldwide Week of Interreligious and Interfaith Dialogue”. So too, my delegation would have preferred the word “interreligious” in the text, instead of “interfaith”; and the misleading word “harmony” replaced with “dialogue”, “respect” or “tolerance”.

Respect for religious and cultural diversity in an increasingly globalized world contributes to international cooperation and promotes enhanced dialogue among religions and persons. On the occasion of the adoption of the text before us, my delegation takes this opportunity to reaffirm its ongoing commitment to promoting mutual understanding, respect, dialogue and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of all other religious traditions.