By Anne Kurian-Montabone

In the matter of religious tolerance, “simple tolerance isn’t enough!” said Monsignor Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the United Nations in Geneva, during a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on November 22, 2020. “It’s about seeking mutual enrichment,” he explained.

Invited by Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa, Secretary-General of the World Muslim League, the Archbishop took part in the presentation of the book “The Promotion of the Inter-Cultural and Inter-Religious Dialogue as Instrument for Peace and Fraternity.”

In his intervention, pointing out “the growing tendencies to egoism and to individualism,” he stressed that fraternity “is essential.” In fact, the great problem today stems from the fact that “differences are often experienced in terms of conflict.”  However, “the recognition of a mutual fraternity can change this perspective, it can reverse conflicts.”

For peace to reign, it’s also necessary “that justice triumph,” Monsignor Jurkovic also said. And justice exacts respect “of the rights of every person.” “Therefore, the protection of fundamental human rights is important for the whole society,” in fact, it is “the first pillar” of society, her said.

“There cannot be dialogue if human dignity isn’t first respected,” he emphasized, mentioning religious liberty as “as one of the most fundamental inviolable rights,’ as it’s born “of the of the inherent need of men and women to nourish their spirit.”

“Simple tolerance isn’t enough!” alerted the Hoy See representative.  In fact, it implies a “negative connotation,” as if it’s necessary to “endure” rather than to “appreciate the differences.”

“We are called to more than a peaceful coexistence,” he continued, encouraging all to “seek mutual enrichment through dialogue.” Without dialogue, “the barriers of prejudice, of suspicion and of incomprehension cannot be eliminated.”

Two movements sustain dialogue, said Monsignor Jurkovic: to listen and to speak. For the two parties of dialogue to be enriched, “they must both have the right to speak and  . . . the duty to listen to what the others say.”

“Peace is neither a dream nor a utopia: peace is possible. Peacebuilding isn’t just for leaders. It’s also rooted in concrete everyday relations,” he concluded.

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