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.(Communication Theme) "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed..." In order that a unanimous, lasting and genuine peace may be secured, the Preamble declares that the States Party to the Constitution believed ‘in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge". As defined by the Constitution, the purpose of the Organization is: "to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations’. Official text in six official languages Legal Instruments [HTML, PDF] Sustainable Development
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty MESSAGE FOR THE END OF RAMADAN
‘Id al-Fitr 1430 H. / 2009 a.d.
Dear Muslim Friends, 1. On the occasion of your feast which concludes the month of Ramadan, I would like to extend my best wishes for peace and joy to you and, through this Message, propose this theme for our reflection: Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty. 2. This Message of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has become a tradition cherished by us all, which is looked forward to each year and this is certainly a cause for joy. It has become, over the years, an occasion of cordial encounter in many countries between many Christians and Muslims. It often addresses a matter of shared concern, making it therefore conducive to a confident and open exchange. Are not all these elements immediately perceived as signs of friendship among us for which we should thank God? 3. Coming to the theme of this year, the human person in a situation of impoverishment is undoubtedly a subject at the heart of the precepts that, under different beliefs, we all hold dear. The attention, the compassion and the help that we, brothers and sisters in humanity, can offer to those who are poor, helping them to establish their place in the fabric of society, is a living proof of the Love of the
Almighty, because it is man as such whom He calls us to love and help, without distinction of affiliation. We all know that poverty has the power to humiliate and to engender intolerable sufferings; it is often a source of isolation, anger, even hatred and the desire for revenge. It can provoke hostile actions using any available means, even seeking to justify them on religious grounds, or seizing another man’s wealth, together with his peace and security, in the name of an alleged “divine justice”. This is why confronting the phenomena of extremism and violence necessarily implies tackling poverty through the promotion of integral human development that Pope Paul VI defined as the “new name for peace” (Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 1975, n. 76). In his recent Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate on integral human development in charity and truth, Pope Benedict XVI, taking into consideration the current context of efforts to promote development, underlines the need for a “new humanistic synthesis” (n. 21), which, safeguarding the openness of man to God, gives him his place as the earth’s “centre and summit” (n. 57). A true development, then, must be ordered “to the whole man and to every man” (Populorum Progressio, n. 42). 4. In his talk on the occasion of the World Day for Peace, 1st January 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI distinguished two types of poverty: a poverty to be combated and a poverty to be embraced. The poverty to be combated is before the eyes of everyone: hunger, lack of clean water, limited medical care and inadequate shelter, insufficient educational and cultural systems, illiteracy, not to mention also the existence of new forms of poverty “…in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty…” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2009, n. 2). The poverty to be embraced is that of a style of life which is simple and essential, avoiding waste and respecting the environment and the goodness of creation. This poverty can also be, at least at certain times during the year, that of frugality and fasting. It is the poverty which we choose which predisposes us to go beyond ourselves, expanding the heart. 5. As believers, the desire to work together for a just and durable solution to the scourge of poverty certainly also implies reflecting on the grave problems of our time and, when possible, sharing a common commitment to eradicate them. In this regard, the reference to the aspects of poverty linked to the phenomena of globalization of our societies has a spiritual and moral meaning, because all share the vocation to build one human family in which all - individuals, peoples and nations - conduct themselves according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility. 6. A careful study of the complex phenomenon of poverty directs us precisely towards its origin in the lack of respect for the innate dignity of the human person and calls us to a global solidarity, for example through the adoption of a “common ethical code” (John Paul II, Address to The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences , 27 April 2001, n. 4) whose norms would not only have a conventional character, but also would necessarily be rooted in the natural law written by the Creator in the conscience of every human being (cf. Rom 2, 14-15). 7. It seems that in diverse places of the world we have passed from tolerance to a meeting together, beginning with common lived experience and real shared concerns. This is an important step forward. In giving everyone the riches of a life of prayer, fasting and charity of one towards the other, is it not possible for dialogue to draw on the living forces of those who are on the journey towards God? The poor question us, they challenge us, but above all they invite us to cooperate in a noble cause: overcoming poverty!
Happy ‘Id al-Fitr! Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran President Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata Secretary
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE 00120 Vatican City Telephone: 0039.06.6988 4321 Fax: 0039.06.6988 4494 E-mail: email@example.com
MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI FOR THE 43rd WORLD DAY OF COMMUNICATIONS
"New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship." May 24, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters! In anticipation of the forthcoming World Communications Day, I would like to address to you some reflections on the theme chosen for this year - New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year’s message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavour to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable. The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions. Many benefits flow from this new culture of communication: families are able to maintain contact across great distances; students and researchers have more immediate and easier access to documents, sources and scientific discoveries, hence they can work collaboratively from different locations; moreover, the interactive nature of many of the new media facilitates more dynamic forms of learning and communication, thereby contributing to social progress. While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call - a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion. The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" and "You must love your neighbour as yourself" (cf. Mk 12:30-31). In this light, reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect , dialogue and friendship. Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable. The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other’s traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.
The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development. Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community. In this context, it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all. We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information. I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing.
From the Vatican, 24 January 2009, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
FORMS OF DIALOGUE
The forms of dialogue
There exist different forms of interreligious dialogue. It may be useful to recall those mentioned by the 1984 document of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue(17). It spoke of four forms, without claiming to establish among them any order of priority:
a) The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighbourly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their
human problems and preoccupations.
b) The dialogue of action , in which Christians and others collaborate for the integral development and liberation of
c) The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective
religious heritages, and to appreciate each other's spiritual values.
d) The dialogue of religious experience, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual
riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute.
The interdependence of the various forms of dialogue
One should not lose sight of this variety of forms of dialogue. Were it to be reduced to theological exchange, dialogue might easily be taken as a sort of luxury item in the Church's mission, a domain reserved for specialists. On the contrary, guided by the Pope and their bishops, all local Churches, and all the members of these Churches, are called to dialogue, though not all in the same way. It can be seen, moreover, that the different forms are interconnected. Contacts in daily life and common commitment to action will normally open the door for cooperation in promoting human and spiritual values; they may also eventually lead to the dialogue of religious experience in response to the great questions which the circumstances of life do not fail to arouse in the minds of people (cf. NA 2). Exchanges at the level of religious experience can give more life to theological discussions. These in turn can enlighten experience and encourage closer contacts.
Dialogue and human liberation
The importance of dialogue for integral development, social justice and human liberation needs to be stressed. Local Churches are called upon, as witnesses to Christ, to commit themselves in this respect in an unselfish and impartial manner. There is need to stand up for human rights, proclaim the demands of justice, and denounce injustice not only when their own members are victimized, but independently of the religious allegiance of the victims. There is need also to join together in trying to solve the great problems facing society and the world, as well as in education for justice and peace.
Dialogue and culture
Another context in which interreligious dialogue seems urgent today is that of culture. Culture is broader than religion. According to one concept religion can be said to represent the transcendent dimension of culture and in a certain way its soul. Religions have certainly contributed to the progress of culture and the construction of a more humane society. Yet religious practices have sometimes had an alienating influence upon cultures. Today, an autonomous secular culture can play a critical role with regard to negative elements in particular religions. The question is complex, for several religious traditions may coexist within one and the same cultural framework while, conversely, the same religion may find expression in different cultural contexts. Again, religious differences may lead to distinct cultures in the same region.
Tensions and conflicts
The Christian message supports many values found and lived in the wisdom and the rich heritage of cultures, but it may also put in question culturally accepted values. Attentive dialogue implies recognizing and accepting cultural values which respect the human person's dignity and transcendent destiny. It may happen, nevertheless, that some aspects of traditional Christian cultures are challenged by the local cultures of other religious traditions (cf. EN 20). In these complex relationships between culture and religion, interreligious dialogue at the level of culture takes on considerable importance. Its aim is to eliminate tensions and conflicts, and potential confrontations by a better understanding among the various religious cultures of any given region. It may contribute to purifying cultures from any dehumanizing elements, and thus be an agent of transformation. It can also help to uphold certain traditional cultural values which are under threat from modernity and the levelling down which indiscriminate internationalization may bring with it. DISPOSITIONS FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND ITS FRUITS
A balanced attitude
Dialogue requires, on the part of Christians as well as of the followers of other traditions, a balanced attitude. They should be neither ingenuous nor overly critical, but open and receptive. Unselfishness and impartiality, acceptance of differences and of possible contradictions, have already been mentioned. The will to engage together in commitment to the truth and the readiness to allow oneself to be transformed by the encounter are other dispositions required.
This does not mean that in entering into dialogue the partners should lay aside their respective religious convictions. The opposite is true: the sincerity of interreligious dialogue requires that each enters into it with the integrity of his or her own faith. At the same time, while remaining firm in their belief that in Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tm 2:4-6), the fullness of revelation has been given to them, Christians must remember that God has also manifested himself in some way to the followers of other religious traditions. Consequently, it is with receptive minds that they approach the convictions and values of others.
Openness to truth
Moreover, the fullness of truth received in Jesus Christ does not give individual Christians the guarantee that they have grasped that truth fully. In the last analysis truth is not a thing we possess, but a person by whom we must allow ourselves to be possessed. This is an unending process. While keeping their identity intact, Christians must be prepared to learn and to receive from and through others the positive values of their traditions. Through dialogue they may be moved to give up ingrained prejudices, to revise preconceived ideas, and even sometimes to allow the understanding of their faith to be purified.
New dimensions of faith
If Christians cultivate such openness and allow themselves to be tested, they will be able to gather the fruits of dialogue. They will discover with admiration all that God's action through Jesus Christ in his Spirit has accomplished and continues to accomplish in the world and in the whole of humankind. Far from weakening their own faith, true dialogue will deepen it. They will become increasingly aware of their Christian identity and perceive more clearly the distinctive elements of the Christian message. Their faith will gain new dimensions as they discover the active presence of the mystery of Jesus Christ beyond the visible boundaries of the Church and of the Christian fold. OBSTACLES TO DIALOGUE
Obstacles or dialogue
Already on a purely human level, it is not easy to practise dialogue. Interreligious dialogue is even more difficult. It is important to be aware of the obstacles which may arise. Some would apply equally to the members of all religious traditions and impede the success of dialogue. Others may affect some religious traditions more specifically and make it difficult for a process of dialogue to be initiated. Some of the more important obstacles will be mentioned here.
Human factors a) Insufficient grounding in one's own faith. b) Insufficient knowledge and understanding of the belief and practices of other religions, leading to a lack of
appreciation for their significance and even at times to misrepresentation.
d) Socio-political factors or some burdens of the past. e) Wrong understanding of the meaning of terms such as conversion, baptism, dialogue, etc. f) Self-sufficiency, lack of openness leading to defensive or aggressive attitudes. g) A lack of conviction with regard to the value of interreligious dialogue, which some may see as a task reserved to
specialists, and others as a sign of weakness or even a betrayal of the faith.
h) Suspicion about the other's motives in dialogue. i) A polemical spirit when expressing religious convictions. j) Intolerance, which is often aggravated by association with political, economic, racial and ethnic factors, a lack, of
reciprocity in dialogue which can lead to frustration.
k) Certain features of the present religious climate, e.g., growing materialism, religious indifference, and the multiplication
of religious sects which creates confusion and raises new problems.
The initiative of God
Many of these obstacles arise from a lack of understanding of the true nature and goal of interreligious dialogue. These need therefore to be constantly explained. Much patience is required. It must be remembered that the Church's commitment to dialogue is not dependent on success in achieving mutual understanding and enrichment; rather it flows from God's initiative in entering into a dialogue with humankind and from the example of Jesus Christ whose life, death and resurrection gave to that dialogue its ultimate expression.
The sharing of evangelical values
Moreover the obstacles, though real, should not lead us to underestimate the possibilities of dialogue or to overlook the results already achieved. There has been a growth in mutual understanding, and in active cooperation. Dialogue has had a positive impact on the Church herself. Other religions have also been led through dialogue to renewal and greater openness. Interreligious dialogue has made it possible for the Church to share Gospel values with others. So despite the difficulties, the Church's commitment to dialogue remains firm and irreversible.
In 1948, the American social anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, published her article Cultural Continuity in [a] Civilized World, in one of the first issues of the UNESCO Courier. I read it with mixed feelings. On the one hand it was disconcerting to be reading a message that seemed so relevant today, while, 60 years on, UNESCO seems to have made only quite modest progress. I felt a certain enthusiasm, too, for the rightness of her thinking, and the impression that UNESCO, in its long career, has never really departed from its primary objective. Ruth Benedict’s observation seems self-evident: culture is a learning process. The cultural patterns which men in all societies invent for themselves and transmit down the generations have in each community a considerable degree of consistency within themselves and have to be taught anew to each generation, she wrote, before adding that recognition of cultural differences a term that, a few decades later was replaced by cultural diversity can promote international co-
operation and cannot be blamed for the chaos of the world, as some would have us believe, even today. And, she concluded, if we are to accept the different ideals and alternative social arrangements of the nations of the world, those of us who are professionally concerned with childhood education have a task which extends far beyond problems of curriculum revision. We need the clear-sightedness and the tolerance which will help us to appreciate the different kinds of strengths which different nations could contribute to the world in which we desire to live. Sixty years later, have we succeeded in guaranteeing a quality education for all, which respects cultural diversity and serves as a lever for sustainable development, conceived and promoted by the people themselves? Education as a vector for cultural transmission It is widely accepted today that a quality education is, above all, one that can respond to local learning needs. Experts also agree that literacy is most successful when acquired in the mother tongue. But in many countries especially the former colonies formal education systems are still struggling to become vectors for cultural transmission at the service of social development. Similarly, a number of development failures can undoubtedly be explained by a failure to take account of the cultural dimension of development, alongside its economic, social and environmental aspects. Even so, the critical and emancipating potential inherent in any educational process remains unchanged, despite what some detractors of culturally adapted education might think. As Ruth Benedict so rightly pointed out, the transmission of culture from generation to generation enables it continually to evolve and recreate itself.No matter how distinctively French France seems over several centuries, or how Dutch Holland seems, with each new generation, the personnel of France and Holland changes completely. One generation dies and another is born emotions are selected and cultivated in them which fit them to be members of their own community and nation. When African heads of State met in Khartoum in January 2006 for the sixth African Union Summit, they came to much the same conclusion. Convinced that cultural values and heritages should provide the basis for education at all levels, they recognised the importance of African languages as media of instruction and vehicles of culture, emphasizing the indisputable interface between culture and education and the role of both culture and education in sustainable socioeconomic development. Finally, they urged their governments to create the fora for regular consultations and streamlining culture in education and education in culture, in particular through the rebuilding of African educational systems. This should be music to Ruth Benedict’s ears in her final resting place. Culture: both source and estuary For the first time in 2001, UNESCO recognized cultural diversity as the common heritage of humanity. UNESCO’s adoption in 2003 of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage would also be dear to her, as it is another step towards this recognition of the unbreakable bond between culture and education, and raises many hopes. Far from aiming to keep moribund cultural heritage alive as a museum piece, this Convention enables peoples to perpetuate a heritage conveying values and meaning, by permanently recreating it, providing them with a sense of identity and continuity. It is true that many elements of intangible cultural heritage are endangered today. All too often they are assimilated to unnecessary or obsolete traditions, with no part in the development of the nation and, within the processes of globalisation, they are of no interest to young people, whose attention is legitimately turned outwards, towards the world. It is clear that current educational systems must carry some of the responsibility for this attitude of the younger generations. The 2003 Convention provides an opportunity for educational systems not only to open themselves to cultural diversity on a national level, but also to discover and appreciate the extraordinary wealth of intangible cultural heritage in the world as a whole. It insists on the need to build greater awareness, especially among the younger generations, of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage and of its safeguarding, as a factor for bringing human beings closer together, for exchange and greater understanding. In other words, it can contribute to silencing the archaic but tenacious thesis of the clash of civilisations. By inviting States to raise awareness of young people regarding the values of their cultural heritage, notably through education, it is as if this Convention came about to put things back in their place. It reminds us that culture is both the source and the estuary of all development processes, with education its preferred vector of transmission. This reminder comes at the right time, and, we hope, will ensure that the diversity of cultures is not relegated to the archives of memory, but remains a living reality, full of meaning and creativity for the future of humanity as a whole. Cecile Duvelle, head of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage section
"Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations".
UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Article 1 ***
The Aswan Declaration After the memorable historical meeting in Aswan, on February 12,1990, members of the International Honorary Commission including Heads of State and world dignitaries signed the Aswan Declaration for the Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria. They declared in their statement that the Library would be a witness to a decisive moment in the history of the human spirit, and should provide a base for acquiring information for researchers all over the world. "The Bibliotheca Alexandrina - a link with the past and opening on to the future will be unique in being the first library on such a scale to be designed and constructed with the assistance of the international community". Grateful recognition is due to Kings and Presidents who generously gave in response to this historic Declaration about US $65,000,000. Text of the Declaration Signatories Text of the Declaration 12 February 1990 Declaration of Aswan At the beginning of the third century before our era, a great enterprise was conceived in ancient Alexandria, meetingplace of peoples and cultures: the edification of a Library in the lineage of Aristotle’s Lyceum, transposing Alexander’s dreams of empire into a quest for universal knowledge. On the eve of the third millennium and under the patronage of President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt is seeking, in co-operation with UNESCO and with the financial support of UNDP and other public and private sources, to revive the Ancient Library of Alexandria by restating its universal legacy in modern terms. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina will stand as a testimony to a decisive moment in the history of human thought - the attempt to constitute a summum of knowledge, to assemble the writings of all the peoples. It will bear witness to an original undertaking that, in embracing the totality and diversity of human experience, became the matrix for a new spirit of critical inquiry, for a heightened perception of knowledge as a collaborative process The Ancient Library of Alexandria and its associated Museum gave birth to a new intellectual dynamic. By gathering together all the known sources of knowledge and organizing them for the purposes of scholarly study and investigation, they marked the foundation of the modern notion of the research institute and, therefore, of the university. Within this haven of learning, the arts and sciences flourished for some six centuries alongside scholarship. The classification and exegesis of the classical literary canon nourished the poetic wit of Callimachus and the pastoral muse of Theocritus. Study of the theories of the masters of Greek thought, informed by the new Alexandrian spirit of critical and empirical inquiry, yielded major insights and advances in those branches of science associated with the names of Euclid, Herophilus, Erastosthenes, Aristarchus, Ptolemy, Strabo, Archimedes and Heron. The achievements of Alexandrian science, lost to the West for over a millennium before their partial recovery via Constantinople and classical Arabic and Islamic cultures, were to be instrumental in launching the European Renaissance on its quest for new worlds. In this and as the transmitter of Greek civilization in general, the Ancient Library of Alexandria survives as a vital link in a living tradition. On the site of the palace of the Ptolemies, the new Alexandrina will give modern expression to an ancient endeavour. A splendid contemporary design for the Library has already been adopted through an international architectural competition. Detailed plans exist for a facility embodying the latest computer technology and serving as a public research library. Conceived in the framework of the World Decade for Cultural Development, this institution will be open to researchers not only from the Mediterranean countries but from all over the world.
not only from the Mediterranean countries but from all over the world. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina - a link with the past and an opening onto the future - will be a unique in being the first library on such a scale to designed and constructed with the assistance of the international community acting through the United Nations system. We, the members of the International Commission for the revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria, meeting at its inaugural session in Aswan in February 1990 under the chairmanship of Mrs. Susan Mubarak, pledge our wholehearted support and commitment to this end the appeal made by the Director-General of Unesco in 1987. We call upon all governments, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, public and private institutions, funding agencies, librarians and archivists, and the peoples of all countries to participate, by means of voluntary contributions of all kinds, in the efforts initiated by the Egyptian Government to revive the Library of Alexandria, to assemble and preserve its collections, to train the necessary staff and to ensure the Library’s functioning. We call on scholars, writers and artists and all those whose tasks is to inform through the written and spoken word to help generate awareness of the international project for the revival of the Library of Alexandria and support for this historic venture. Finally, we urge all governments to donate to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina such works in their possession as will help to constitute and enhance the Library’s collection, in recognition of the unique gift made by the Ancient Library of Alexandria to our common heritage. Signatories Susanne AGNELLI Senator, Secretary to Foreign Affairs (Italy) Queen Noor AL-HUSSEIN of Jordan Yahya Bin Mahfoudh AL-MANTHERI Minister of Education and Youth (Sultanate of Oman) Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AL-NAHYAN President of the United Arab Emirates Prince Turki Ibn Abdal-Aziz AL-SAUD Founder and President of the arab Student Aid International (ASAI) (Saudi Arabia) Daniel BOORSTIN Historian, Librarian of Congress Emeritus (United States) Lord BRIGGS Provost, Worcester College, Oxford (United Kingdom) Gro Harlem BRUNDTLAND Member of Parliament (Norway) Princess CAROLINE de Monaco Hans-Peter GEH President of the International Federation of Libray Associations and Institutions (IFLA) (Federal Republic of Germany) Abdul-Aziz HUSSAIN Adviser to His Highness the Amir of Kuweit Dmitri Sergeevich LIKHACHEV Academician (USSR) Melina MERCOURI Member of the Parliament (Greece) Francois MITTERAND
President of the French Republic Susan MUBARAK (Egypt) Queen SOFIA of Spain Ahmed Fathi SOROUR Minister of Education, Chairman of the General Organization of the Alexandria Library (GOAL) (Egypt) Mr Jose Israel VARGAS Former Chair of the Executive Board of Unesco (Brazil)
Common Good-The Divine Office of Christ-God and Existence
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