Pulong ng Editor

Rabbi Zalman Kastel, Sheikh Wesarn Charkawi and Fr Patrick McInerney after the Martin Place Siege, Sydney, December 2014

Columban Interreligious Dialogue Website

Recently the Missionary Society of St Columban launched a new website, www.columbanIRD.org, that is devoted to Interreligious Dialogue (IRD). The website describes interreligious dialogue in the words of Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze as ‘a meeting of people of differing religions, in an atmosphere of freedom and openness, in order to listen to the other, to try to understand that person’s religion, and hopefully to seek possibilities of collaboration.  It is hoped that the other partner will reciprocate, because dialogue should be marked by a two-way and not a one-way movement.  Reciprocity is in the nature of dialogue.  There is give and take.  Dialogue implies both receptivity and active communication.’

The website is a project of the Coordinating Committee of the Society's Interreligious Dialogue Network  (Fr Pat Colgan, Hong Kong; Fr Sean Dwan, Ireland; Fr Liam O'Callaghan, Pakistan; Fr Paul Glynn, Philippines; Fr Patrick McInerney, Australia and New Zealand). It has been developed by Catholic Communications of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

At an interreligious and ecumenical gathering on 13 January this year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, Pope Francis said,  ‘But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.’

Columbans have been actively involved in interreligious dialogue for many years now, and not only in the countries where the committee members above are based. They have also been involved in ecumenical dialogue, which is that between Christians of different denominations. Quite often activities have both an interreligious and an ecumenical dimension.

Speaking in the context of the prolonged Civil War in Sri Lanka (1983 – 2009) the Pope said, ‘Such positive developments in interreligious and ecumenical relations take on a particular significance and urgency in Sri Lanka. For too many years the men and women of this country have been victims of civil strife and violence. What is needed now is healing and unity, not further conflict and division. Surely the fostering of healing and unity is a noble task which is incumbent upon all who have at heart the good of the nation, and indeed the whole human family. It is my hope that interreligious and ecumenical cooperation will demonstrate that men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters.’

Pope Benedict XVI visits the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2006

On a visit to Turkey in November 2006 Pope Benedict said, ‘Here I make my own the words of my immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, who said on the occasion of his visit in 1979: “I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together, for the benefit of all men, ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.’”’ (Address to the Catholic Community in Ankara, 28 November 1979).

The new website is a resource for individuals and groups involved in any way in interreligious dialogue, formal or informal, and for those who want to know what it is and what it isn’t.
Some years ago your editor found himself engaged in very real interreligious dialogue while sitting beside a Pakistani Muslim living in Dublin on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin. This man had not only the Quran saved in his cell phone but also many parts of the Bible.

May this new resource, www.columbanIRD.org help many to engage in IRD as our recent Popes have urged us to do, not only by their words but by their example.