This is one of the best speeches I have read within a book, this one made me a fan of Adrian D'Hage for highlighting the best part of religion and the way we are same, rather than the way we are different.
‘In the one hundred and fifty thousand years or so that we have inhabited this planet,’ Giovanni began when the applause had died down, ‘we have fought and killed each other, only to have one war finish and another one begin. Sometimes it seems that we have not taken the slightest notice of the lessons of history, but I am here tonight to tell you that there are two great leaders behind me who understand the futility of killing your brother or sister.’
Yusef shivered as he fingered the small transmitter hidden in his pocket. From the shadows of the control marquee next to the podium that was located to one side of the Damascus Gate, he stared at the brother he no longer knew. The two had not spoken since that fateful day they had buried their family.
‘Too often these wars have been fought in the name of religion and culture,’ Giovanni said. ‘As a Christian I can tell you that is not what Christ had in mind. He didn’t believe that one man’s faith and culture is better than another’s and that we should all fight to the death to prove it. The Prophet Muhammad was also a man of great tolerance and justice,’ Giovanni continued. ‘He is credited with saying “if you wish for others what you wish for yourself, you become a Muslim”, which has given rise to the Golden Rule. Sadly though, the Muslim is often portrayed in the media as a terrorist or a fanatic. I have come to know the true Muslim as a man and woman of peace and prayer. I have also had the privilege of meeting many marvellous men and women of the Jewish faith, a faith that alongside Islam and Christianity shares the one father, Abraham. So often we seem to behave like a bad family, arguing over his will, over what we think belongs to us. There are some within the Jewish religion who claim Abraham for their own, maintaining that God’s blessings and the land are only for the Jewish people. There are some Muslims who claim Abraham as the model for Islam alone; and there are some of my own faith who would claim that the promises given to Abraham have only ever been fulfilled by Christ.’ Giovanni smiled. ‘Abraham is entitled to be a little confused.’ Laughter reverberated off the ancient walls. ‘Like all good fathers, Abraham has been all of those things to all his children. It would be a very strange God who, having created a Muslim child in Baghdad, or a Christian child in Bogotá, or a Jewish child in Berlin, would then turn around and close the gates of the Kingdom to two thirds of those children because they were not born into the correct culture.’ Giovanni was being characteristically bold in his quest for greater peace and tolerance. This comment, he knew, would be greeted with quiet fury in the Vatican, but it was a stunning public admission from a cardinal that there was more than one path to the Omega, to eternity.
Yusef Sartawi listened. He was sceptical, but he was also touched by this man. Yusef felt the safety catch for the hundredth time, instinctively trusting this Christian priest, which made it more puzzling as to why the infidel would want him assassinated.
‘I know,’ Giovanni concluded, ‘that Abraham, Muhammad and Christ would all applaud this peace agreement as a turning point in the history of civilisation. A turning away from the killing and the bloodshed, a turning towards tolerance and recognition of the values of different cultures and religions. A move towards justice and peace.’