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Ahead of Diwali, Vatican sends message of interreligious solidarity

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Vatican City, Oct 30: Ahead of Diwali, The Vatican, seat of the Roman Catholic church, has greeted the Hindu community, expressing hope that interreligious solidarity can bring light in people's lives amid despair and uncertainty arising from the challenges posed by the pandemic. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sent "its most cordial greetings" on Friday to all Hindus on the occasion of Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, on the theme "Christians and Hindus: Together bringing light into people's lives in times of despair."

Ahead of Diwali, Vatican sends message of interreligious solidarity

Diwali will be celebrated on November 4 this year. The statement comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called on Pope Francis at the Vatican and had a very warm meeting and discussed with him a wide range of issues and also invited the Pontiff to visit India. "May the observance of this feast even in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty arising from the present pandemic, and its resultant worldwide crises, light up your lives, homes and communities with the hope for a better future," it said in the statement.

The scars of the first and second waves of the pandemic, which upended the lives and livelihood of people, has left the people with a sense of resignation, despair and despondency and "we both Christians and Hindus can bring the light of hope in people's lives in such challenging times," it said. "Bringing light together in people's lives through interreligious solidarity also validates the usefulness and resourcefulness of religious traditions in society," it said.

Noting that religious traditions, as repositories of wisdom, in times of crisis, have the power of lifting sagging spirits, the Pontifical Council said that they also have the capacity to help individuals and communities to reset their life's compass with hope, with their gaze fixed beyond their present despair. It called on the religious and community leaders to nurture the spirit of fraternity among their followers with a view to helping them walk and work together with the people of other religious traditions, most especially during crisis and calamity of every kind.

"The power of solidarity unleashed in alleviating the suffering and assisting the needy, more so with an interreligious character and responsibility, gives visibility to the light of hope by putting in evidence the response which adherents of all religious traditions are called upon to make in times of despair and darkness," the statement said. The Pontifical Council said that greater awareness about one another, interdependence and working solidarity can help the world emerge out of every crisis better.

"Even the pressing global issues that threaten to disrupt the harmony between nature and people and the harmonious co-existence of people such as climate change, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, hyper nationalism, xenophobia can be effectively addressed since these are concerns that affect us all," it said. According to Johns Hopkins University data, there are more than 246,082,500 COVID-19 cases globally with over 4,990,300 deaths. PTI

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