In an oblique rebuke to the Islamic State and other militants, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has wished Muslims a peaceful and joyful Ramadan and acknowledged the pain of those who have suffered or died because of violence. “With Pope Francis, we wish you that the fruits of Ramadan and the joy of Eid al-Fitr may bring about peace and prosperity, enhancing your human and spiritual growth,” Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said in a June 12 letter to Muslims. His remarks alluded to ongoing violence in the Middle East and elsewhere. He asked both Christians and Muslims to pray. “Our prayer is much needed: for justice, for peace and security in the world; for those who have deviated from the true path of life and commit violence in the name of religion, so as to return to God and change life; for the poor and the sick,” said the French-born cardinal. His comments follow the rise of militant groups in Iraq and Syria such as the Islamic State. Some Islamist militants accuse other Muslims of apostasy and target them for violence. While Christians and other religious minorities sometimes suffer disproportionately, millions of Muslims have suffered as well. The cardinal’s Ramadan message spoke to these victims. “For some of you and also for others from other religious communities, the joy of the feast is shadowed by the memory of the dear ones who lost their life or goods, or suffered physically, mentally and even spiritually because of violence,” he said. The cardinal lamented the killings, enslavement, crimes against women, forced migration, and the destruction of religious and cultural heritage. “We are all aware of the gravity of these crimes in themselves. However, what makes them even more heinous is the tentative of justifying them in the name of religion. It is a clear manifestation of instrumentalizing religion for gaining power and richness.” He continued: “There is no life that is more precious than another one because it belongs to a specific race or religion. Therefore, no one can kill. No one can kill in the name of God; this would be a double crime: against God and the very person.” Cardinal Tauran called on leaders in education, media, and religion to teach “the sacred character of life and the derived dignity of every person, regardless of his or her ethnicity, religion, culture, social position and political choice.” He stressed the need for authorities to provide security and public order to protect people from “the blind violence of the terrorists.” Ramadan is a Muslim month of fasting intended to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. This year, it lasts from June 17-July 17. It ends with the holiday Eid al-Fitr, which breaks the fast. Cardinal Tauran told Muslims he hoped and prayed that they may be enriched by the Ramadan practices of fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and visits to family members. “Our feasts, among others, nourish in us hope for the present and the future,” he said. “It is with hope that we look at the future of humanity, especially when we do our best to make our legitimate dreams become a reality.”
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