2012-11-23 16:33:54

Vatican statement on new Interreligious Centre in Vienna

The following is an English translation of a communiquè issued on November 23rd by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, concerning the inauguration of a new Interreligious Centre in the Austrian capital that will be attended by a delegation from the Holy See.

"This coming Monday, November 26th, the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) will be inaugurated in Vienna. As the name of the institution says, KAICIID traces its origins to an initiative of the King of Saudi Arabia, and has three “Founder States”: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom of Spain. The Holy See, for her part, has welcomed the invitation to adhere to the initiative in the quality of “Founding Observer”. A qualified delegation of the Holy See will be present at the inauguration ceremony.

Some questions have been raised regarding the motives and the meaning of the Holy See’s adherence to this initiative. As the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, I am able to offer the following clarifications:

The Centre that will be inaugurated on Monday in Vienna is a new institution, the purpose of which is to foster dialogue among religions and cultures. This goal is always to be looked on with favour – with a view to understanding and peaceful co-existence among peoples: a basic and an urgent need for the humanity of today and tomorrow. The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz had spoken to the Holy Father of this need during the meeting they had in the Vatican, on November 6th, 2007.

It is important to note that the new Centre is not a proprietary institution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is rather an independent international Organisation, recognised by the United Nations, and constituted by three Founder States, two of which have centuries-old Christian traditions. We have, therefore, an opportunity and a space for dialogue: it is right that the Holy See should avail herself of the opportunity and be present, in order better to put to use her experience and trusted expertise in the field of interreligious dialogue. The status of Founding Observer is most apt to guarantee just such a presence, respecting the nature of the Holy See and permitting the Holy See to express her specific concerns and expectations.

The Catholic Church is present as one of the many diverse religions and religious communities of the Board of Directors, which is the motor of the Centre’s activities. Representing the Holy See shall be the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Miguel Ayuso Guixot. This constitutes an important occasion for presenting the Church’s vision: of dialogue; the human person and vocation; ethics and religion; social relations; justice and peace; all at high-level venue of culture and international cooperation. All this most certainly took place already and continues to occur in many venues and in many different occasions. However, the variety and pluralism of today’s world call for a multiplication of both chances for and vectors of development of the active and proactive role of the Church – indeed, in every possible occasion.

Naturally, the Holy See, in her role as Founding Observer, shall not fail to bring to light her concerns for the effective respect of the fundamental rights of Christians who live in countries with a Muslim majority, in order to promote authentic and integral religious liberty. In this way, the new Centre at Vienna shall offer a space capable of receiving the expressions and manifestations of the Church’s concerns in these regards, and for working efficaciously toward viable solutions to related problems as they arise."

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