Interfaith week message from +Mark

Bishop Marks message to the Plymouth Centre for Faith and Cultural Diversity during Interfaith week

“I am delighted to hear that the Plymouth Centre for Faith and Cultural Diversity are hosting this celebration during Interfaith Week, and I am really sorry that I cannot be with you. I thank Fr Peter Coxe for representing me at this important gathering.

Many of you will be aware of the great impact that Pope Francis is having, not just on Catholics but on people of different beliefs, different faiths and, indeed, on people of no faith. Part of his witness is the authenticity of his life, putting words into action, and in his open-ness to others. He is a man of dialogue and of peace.

In the light of the events in Paris this last week we must each re-dedicate ourselves to the path of dialogue and of peace. We pray especially for all those who lives have been cut short by these terrible acts of violence. May their families receive the support and care they need at this time. We know that ultimately evil will not triumph. Violence has no place in religion; it can never be justified, and is a blasphemy against God. May we each continue to have a firm heart and a courageous witness in the pursuit of peace and mutual understanding.

Dialogue is an essential ingredient if we are to know, understand and respect one another. It cannot be limited merely to the few, to leaders of religious communities, but must also extend as far as possible to all believers, engaging the different sectors of civil society. As experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.

Particular attention must be paid to young men and women who are called to build the future of this country, and indeed of Europe, especially in the face of darkness or terror. We must help the young in deepening their identity – personal, religious and social – so that they can be people of dialogue and of peace.

For this we must all work and pray. Never let us withdraw from the task of listening and dialogue, based on clear identities and the keen, patient and rigorous search for truth and beauty. These are placed in the hearts of every man and woman and are truly visible in every authentic religious expression which seeks to build up the common good and the service of those most in need.

May God bless this gathering today and all that we seek to do together.

+Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth