The Catholic Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has issued a statement of goodwill to Hindus at the start of the holy festival of Diwali which was welcomed openly. The council stressed that true human development is a result of respecting the freedom of everyone, and they took a giant leap in that direction by crossing often ardent religious boundaries.
The statement entitled "Hindus and Christians committed to integral human development" was signed by the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal. Jean-Louis Tauran, and the secretary, Msgr. Pier Luigi Celata. It’s aim is the recognition of freedom for all, the protection of basic human rights, and peaceful coexistance. The statement acknowledges that the “true good of every individual” is integral to the advance of human development. The words of Pope Benedict XVI that “integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples” is echoed in the sentiment of the council.
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When one of the most senior offices in the Christian pantheon extends goodwill to the people of a different religion, it is worth standing up and taking notice. In addition, for those yogis who both seek the deeper meaning of Yoga and struggle with the question of how their religious beliefs fit into the practice, this statement holds a great deal of symbolism.
The practice of yoga at its essence is a practice of union, of strengthening our existing belief system and allowing us to understand and accept the beliefs of others even if they are fundamentally different from our own. Union means joining together in commonality instead of creating separation based on our differences. In joining, we find that we are all One humanity. A fact that the Pontifical Council echoed the feeling that, “such authentic human development can be achieved only by assuming a shared responsibility for one another and by seriously engaging in collaborative action. This springs from our very nature as human beings and our belonging to one human family."
Whether intentional or not, the Pontifical Council is expressing the fundamental belief of Yoga. The practice of seeing our unity is a powerful step in creating harmony and cooperation not only in theology, but also and maybe more importantly, in the world condition of which we are all a part. Paradigm shifts begin in the most understated ways. And maybe, just maybe, this statement expresses the humble beginnings of a world dedicated to commonality instead of separation.
What do you think the Pontifical Council’s message represtents? We’d love to hear about it.