Airports are obvious places for interreligious dialogue, but to avoid confusion it would be better if Christians did not offer use of their airport chapels for Muslim prayers, said the cardinal in charge of the Vatican’s dialogue with other religions.

French Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, encouraged Catholic airport chapels to support the establishment of “meditation rooms” that can be used by any religious group, but he cautioned against opening dedicated Christian chapels to other religions.

In predominantly Christian countries, it is important that Christian chapels “maintain their character as a place for Christian worship,” he told Catholic airport chaplains meeting in Rome April 23-27.

Cardinal Poupard said that working in the world’s airports, places where the fear of terrorism is high, the chaplains have an important role to play, “to encourage dialogue and prevent fear and pessimism from damaging relations with persons of other faiths.”

Dialogue, he said, is the only nonviolent weapon available for fighting terrorism, “one of the most absurd and painful evils of our age.”

Every effort to promote dialogue plays a “preventive role” by decreasing tensions and promoting respect for others, he said.


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