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The Parish Priest's Letter.

I was invited for a get-together by one Muslim brother in the Islamic Centre at Billou, Peddem, Mapusa. The Eid get-together was “to increase understanding between Faiths and Exchange of views on spirituality in the Worldly life”.

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I was given a privilege to deliver my message on the occasion which is published here below:-
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We the people of India, are made up of many cultures, religions, languages and ethnic groups. Our national anthem is a veritable hymn that praises God for the different regions and cultural communities of our country. Diversity is a characteristic of the national identity of India. Sadly today our culture ethos of pluralism is threatened by communal tension and violence. In spite of all of us being citizens of the same country and children of the same God there is fear and insecurity among us and suspicion between different religious communities.
In order to grow and prosper a nation needs mutual respect, trust and co-operation among its citizens. We need to learn or relearn to live together and collaborate with one another to build our nation. We need to celebrate unity in diversity and promote peace and harmony.
Led by the spirit of God, prophets, thinkers and spiritual leaders have sown the seeds of God’s message in the sacred books of the religions of the world. These scriptures are illumined by the rays of truth that enlighten all people. Therefore every good hearted person will extend both hands to welcome all that is true and holy in any religion. We need to view the rich religions literature of the world, the various religious cultural traditions and the teachings of the religious leaders with an open mind.
St. Paul says’ All scripture is inspired by God and useful for reflecting error for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be right. This is how someone who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work”. 2 Tim 3:16-17.
Though Paul is here obviously speaking of Judaeo – Christian scriptures, I have deep feeling in my heart that these words can be applied in varying ways and degrees to other scriptures as well, for they too manifest  unearthly wisdom and divine inspiration.
The insights and values of various scripture and religions are beginning to influence and enrich one another. In our time we are witnessing a vital dialogue taking place between the sacred traditions of various religions.
Let no one forget that each one has his or her personal responsibility and all of us have a collective responsibility in promoting and maintaining.
Peace and harmony and in doing whatever good we can to our fellow human as we wend/turn our ways along this earthly pilgrimage.
God is the Creator and Father of all people, nations, races and religions. The aim and purpose of any religion is to help to live godly lives and to be in communion with God and His children: children of the one father of all and hence brothers and sisters among themselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen, What all religions propose?
All religions propose divine wisdom to its followers. This wisdom is enshrined in the sacred books of the various religions.
FAITH is a commitment one makes to God in response to his self-revelation. God is the Creator of all. His love and grace will certainly be what all can share in, and his revelation will include some provision for the needs, guidance, welfare and joy of all. Since our God (Parmeshwar, Allah) is one, there had to be and there is an essential unity of basic teachings in the scriptures.
This is turn promotes the meeting of faiths, of minds and of hearts. Where there is sincerity and humility, there will certainly prevail peace co-operation and fraternal unity. Such unity is promoted by initiatives in favour of reconciliation and of upholding the great values that lead to justice, peace and brotherhood. Integrity, silence, the sense of divine, prayer, worship, asceticism, discipline, love, generosity, brotherly solicitude, compassion, the spirit of forgiveness, of detachment, of humility and of self denial characterize all religions.
All religions will never miss that God loves all His children, that humans should love and help one another; that one should ever by willing to forgive one’s enemies, that violence and cruelty are forbidden; that there is no virtue greater that love and kindness.
The way of love is the way of union with God and to universal brotherhood. Anyone who wants to live a genuine spiritual life cannot follow any other way.
Religious thought and social life have to be blended into a harmonious whole.
I would like to conclude with the words of Dr. V.R. Anarthamurthy, Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University “Communalism should be fought, invoking the deepest religious sentiments of the people.” A true religious person can never be communal.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before coming to an end, I thank Mr. Sameer Khan and the committee of JAMAATE ISLAMI-HIND, Goa for inviting me for the EID get-together and also for giving me an opportunity to express here my great appreciation for the secular policy of our Bharat Desh which fosters unity in the diversity.
Thank you, and God Bless us all.

Fr. Francisco De Mello,
Parish Priest.