A group of Catholic and Muslim scholars meeting at the Vatican this week unanimously condemned acts of terrorism and violence, persecution, and desecration of sacred places.
The 12 Catholic and 12 Muslim scholars were taking part in the third Catholic – Muslim Forum which focused on “Working together to Serve Others.”
The participants acknowledged that their meeting took place at a time of great tension and conflict and said that makes mutual cooperation more important than ever.
In a statement released at the end of the three day meeting, forum participants pointed to education as a key to promoting respect for others. According to participants, textbooks used in schools, churches and mosques must offer a respectful land objective portrayal of other religions and ethnic groups.
The forum was established in 2008 after more than 100 Muslim scholars launched the “Common Word” initiative to foster understanding and dialogue between Muslims and Christians.
The alleged killing of 43 student teachers in Mexico, which prompted Pope Francis to denounce the violence behind drug trafficking, has taken another tragic twist.
In the search for the bodies of the 43 missing student teachers, searchers found a mass grave containing 38 bodies, including that of a priest who disappeared in April.
Father John Ssenysondo, a Comboni Missionary originally from Uganda, disappeared April 30 after celebrating Mass in the town of Chilapa de Alvarez. Local media report the priest disappeared after refusing to baptize the child of a couple who were known members of a local drug gang.
None of the bodies found in the grave with Fr. Ssenysondo have been identified as those of the missing student teachers.
In his general audience on Wednesday Pope Francis expressed his closeness with Mexican citizens and said although the 43 teachers are legally disappeared, “we know they are killed.” He said their disappearance and deaths “make visible the dramatic reality that exists behind the sale and trafficking of drugs.”