Faith and reason are both gifts of God, do not contradict each other and are by nature nonviolent, even if sometimes they have been used to justify violence.
This appears to the central conclusion of the meeting held at the Vatican between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Iranian Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation.
Participants at the three-day colloquium centred on the relationship between faith and reason were received in audience today by Benedict XVI, and issued a joint statement in which they agree that "faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind", and that "faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it".
Faith and reason, the document continues, "are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence".
The two sides also say that they agree in the desire to cooperate further "in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values". Christians and Muslims "should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them.
They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs". "Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions within Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered".
"Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them".
"The participants expressed their satisfaction with the level of the presentations and the debates as well as the open and friendly atmosphere during the colloquium. The participants were honoured and pleased to be received at the end of the colloquium by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who was particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting".
The next encounter will be held in Tehran within two years.