Jordan: ‘Honest interfaith dialogue is vital for future of youth’

by Rula Samain JORDAN TIMES

AMMAN — Conflicts that are perceivably religious often have ethical, political and social dimensions, according to a Vatican archbishop currently visiting Jordan.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication (PCSC), said journalists need to draw attention to the other factors when reporting on conflicts, calling on them to address the misunderstandings and faulty perceptions within society.

Communication and dialogue are tools that can either free humans from the cycle of violence and vengeance or destroy societies, Archbishop Celli said at the opening of the “Arab Christian Media at the Service of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights” conference on Monday.

He stressed that those working in the communications field should have a clear understanding of what message to convey and values to present to their audience.

“Very often, our efforts to communicate will be ineffective if we do not address the misunderstandings and perceptions that are operative within the mindsets of those we wish to address.”

One of these misperceptions, he said, is associating religion with conflict, noting that the term “clash of civilisations” is frequently used to mean inter-religious conflict.

“Balanced communicators will often draw the attention of their audience to the fact that what are presented as religious conflicts are in fact conflicts that have ethical, political and social dimensions,” said Celli, who has been a bishop for more than 17 years.

He noted that in order for people to live in peace with each other, they should learn to communicate honestly and respect each other.

The archbishop said honest and respectful “dialogue is vital”, so the younger generation do not form their identities “based on cultural and religious differences, but on brotherhood in humanity”.

Archbishop Celli told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the conference that many challenges face Christian and Arab journalists in the Middle East, mostly in “telling the truth about man”.

The two-day conference, a continuation of a larger conference held in Beirut in 2012, was organised by the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media, in cooperation with the PCSC.

The conference also hosted renowned Muslim and Christian figures and representatives from local and international media outlets.

Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media said Jordan was chosen to host the conference, which concluded on Tuesday, for being a role model for the Arab-Christian media because of the “positive scene” in the Kingdom.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani agreed with Bader, noting that the Kingdom is a role model in coexistence and interfaith dialogue.

During the conference, Issam Sakhnin, history professor at the University of Petra and author of “Massacres of Christians”, and comedian Musa Hijazin were honoured.

Former prime minister Faisal Fayez delivers an address at the closing ceremony of the ‘Arab Christian Media at the Service of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights’ conference in Amman on Tuesday (Petra photo)

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Jordan

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