Razavi Islamic Sciences University in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad has hosted a meeting dubbed ‘Religious Education in Universities and Seminaries’. The event was attended by a group of French Catholic cardinals.
According to Astan News correspondent, the French delegates in the gathering put forth their views on religious education. “In fact, religious education promotes faith and spirituality in humankind,” said representative of the Pope, Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline.
The French cleric also said that in Christian teachings, faith in the first place entails the recognition of birth, lifestyle and finally the Crucifixion, mission and the second coming of Christ. “Many explanations are provided in the gospel about this issue. Therefore, Christian education is based on the recognition of Jesus,” Aveline added.
The representative of the Pope referred to reasoning and deduction as the pillars of faith and said, “To have faith, you should understand, and to understand, you should have faith. Faith in the school of Christianity is not a shift in thinking and reasoning, rather, it is the result of a personal decision and commitment.”
Jean-Marc Aveline believes understanding and commitment are the second basis of faith. “Faith in the Christian tradition is achieved through commitment to the family, society, law, environment and so on,” said the Christian cleric.
Referring to the fact that faith and commitment help human beings with their choices, he said, “Choice, as opposed to acceptance and rejection, strengthens resistance and endurance in people.”
Elaborating on the third principle of faith, Jean-Marc Aveline said that faith is not the result of mere rational cognition and individual decisions, “but it is a divine gift” that is granted to man by the Lord. Therefore, he said, religious education teaches divine faith.
“In order to boost [people’s] faith, we need to turn religious education into artistic education,” he underlined.
Prayer Boosts Human Capacity for Divine Gift
Cardinal Roberto Logal, a member of the Vatican Council, believes that being a scientist is not enough for achieving dignity. “When Jesus extended his first invitation, people were surprised by his words, although his words were not based on scientific and philosophical reasoning,” argued Roberto Logal.
"We as Christians try to open our hearts for accepting the divine gift by studying the gospel and the Old and New Testaments," he said.
The Vatican Council member added that individual prayers and corporate prayers in Christianity increase the human capacity for the divine gift. “All of these worshipping rituals are associated with words that connect man to God, whether the worshiper is happy or upset, a pious or self-indulgent person,” said Logal.
Secularism detaches French Families from Religion
“Muslims account for at least seven percent of the French population. Marriages between Muslims and Christians occur in all cities. But, couples refer to municipalities for interreligious marriage and don’t ask for the churches’ permission,” said Cardinal Henry Dowlough, another French delegate at the meeting.
Emphasizing that all religions are opposed to interfaith marriages, the Catholic seminary professor called for a collective effort to resolve such issues. “Now that this has happened in the Western world, it is the duty of the scholars of all religions to find a solution to this [interfaith marriage] problem,” urged the French scholar.
Cardinal Henry Dowlough, who is the author of the book Is God the creator of the gospel and the Qur'an, said that Christian scholars try to strengthen family bonds in Christian societies and promote lasting commitment in marital lives. “However, in France, no one gets married because of tendency toward another religion,” said the cardinal.
Dowlough maintained that Christian scholars are currently trying to promote this way of thinking in France. “If a woman falls in love with a man or vice versa, it is not because of that individual's beauty, but because of religious beauty, which manifests itself in the person's face,” said Henry Dowlough.
“Because of the secular atmosphere in France, many interfaith families in France avoid commenting on religious issues at home. However, upon the birth of the first child, such issues inevitably come up and would create differences between family members,” pointed out the French Cardinal.