02 June 2017, The Tablet

Vatican urges Muslims to join 'believers in one God' to combat climate change in annual Ramadan message

Message released weeks before end of Muslim holy month and the day after Donald Trump withdraws from Paris Agreement

The Vatican has used its annual message to Muslims at the end of Ramadan - the annual month of fasting - to reiterate its commitment to combating climate change just a day after Donald Trump, the US president, withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement.

Political and religious leaders have been quick to condemn Trump's announcement from the White House on Thursday that the accord "hamstrings the United States" because it was "less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the United States".

In its annual Ramadan message the Vatican said that Christians and Muslims, believers in one God, have an obligation to safeguard the world God created.

"Our vocation to be guardians of God's handiwork is not optional, nor is it tangential to our religious commitment as Christians and Muslims: It is an essential part of it," said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The message - which was dated 19 May but was released at the Vatican today, three weeks before the end of Ramadan on 24 June. Each year, the council for interreligious dialogue publishes a message to the world's Muslims in preparation for the celebration of the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting.

The pontifical council chooses a theme annually to promote dialogue by "offering insights on current and pressing issues." The theme chosen for 2017 was "Caring for Our Common Home," which echoes Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'."

"As believers, our relationship with God should be increasingly shown in the way we relate to the world around us," Cardinal Tauran and Bishop Ayuso wrote.

Pope Francis' encyclical, they noted, was addressed "to the whole of humanity" and drew attention "to the harm our lifestyles and decisions are causing to the environment, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings".

"What is needed," they said, "is education, spiritual openness and a 'global ecological conversion' to adequately address this challenge."

The encyclical's reference to the earth as a "'common home,' a dwelling for all the members of the human family," they said, means that "no one person, nation or people can impose exclusively their understanding of our planet".

The message also went on to discuss "certain philosophical, religious and cultural perspectives that present obstacles which threaten humanity's relationship with nature."

The message repeated Pope Francis' call for "a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet … since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affects us all".

Additional reporting by Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service

PICTURE - Muslims wash themselves upon their arrival during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kathmandu, Nepal (PA)

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