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Catholic Bishops greet Muslims

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters:

On behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations, I wish you a blessed and holy Ramadan, which began on June 7, 2016 and would conclude on or about July 5.

Among the reasons why this month is so important to you is that the Holy Quran was revealed during Ramadan, with the five pillars of Islam.

They include: the testimony of Faith, of Prayer, of Supporting the Needy, of Fasting during the Month of Ramadan, and of Pilgrimage to Makkah.

Total abstinence

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations from the time of Fair (the dawn prayer) to sunset as ordained by Allah.

Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification.  By denying oneself worldly comforts even for a short time, a fasting person becomes more empathetic of what it feels like to be hungry in a world of plenty, and also grows in his or her spiritual life.

The spiritual process of fasting, increased prayer and solidarity with the poor is greatly admired by Catholics, and by all people of goodwill.

How could it be otherwise?

Indeed, compassionate people the world over must be overwhelmed by images of starving men, women and children in war-torn countries, especially the suffering of millions of refugees who have been forced to leave their homes.

Efficacious Prayers

Because prayer is always efficacious, people of faith around the world might join our Muslim brothers and sisters during this Holy Month to pray for peace, justice, and compassion.

We might look to your example of joyfully embracing a month of rigorous fasting in order to feel the pangs of hunger that millions of people in the world do not choose.

And at the end of this sacred time, we might become as generous as possible to support refugees who come to New Zealand who seek nothing more than the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

The Holy Month of Ramadan teaches all people of good will not just Muslims, that every good thing on this earth is a gift from God, and every man, woman and child are brothers and sisters.

These values resonate with the Catholic tradition as well, and thus we wish you every grace and blessing at this holy time of the year.

With warmest regards,

Mary Eastham, PhD, on behalf of Sister Catherine Jones SMSM, Chairperson of the Committee. Other members of the Committee include Reverend Kevin Toomey OP, Sister Bertha Hurley SMSM, Colin MacLeod, Carlo David, Adele Churchman, Nick Borthwick, Matthew Gardiner, Dr. Teresa Fernandez, Vanessa Borg and Sharron Cole (Deputy Chair).

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