Interreligious Dialogue – An Essential Element of Evagelization

By James H Kroeger MM

One of the truly remarkable waves of mission renewal in the wake of Vatican II has been the Church’s commitment to elucidating the vision and encouraging the practice of interfaith dialogue. It was only in 1964 in his first encyclical Ecclesiam Suam that Pope Paul VI introduced dialogue as a framework for envisioning the mission of the Church in the contemporary world. The Council document Nostra Aetate (1965) provides a foundational vision for this dimension of evangelization. Pope John Paul II was an indefatigable apostle of dialogue in his writings and world-wide pastoral visits, always taking an opportunity to meet the followers of various religions. He summoned the leaders of the world religions to assemble in Assisi in 1986, 1999, and 2002; Benedict XVI invited a return to Assisi in 2011, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Assisi gathering.

The mission encyclical of John Paul II has a lengthy section devoted to interfaith dialogue (RM 55-57). His conviction was clear: “Interreligious dialogue is a part of the Church’s evangelizing mission” (RM 55). Asia’s bishops are also deeply committed to dialogical evangelization: they have stated: “Mission may find its greatest urgency in Asia; it also finds in our continent a distinctive mode — dialogue” (FABC V: 4.1). Being a truly local Church in Asia “means concretely [being] a Church in continuous, humble and loving dialogue with the living traditions, the cultures, the religions [of Asia] (FABC I: 12). The Church has made significant progress in this area since Vatican II; however, as the world witnesses—almost daily—the need for authentic, substantial interfaith dialogue remains an urgent imperative. Effective and successful dialogue efforts are graces to be sought in prayer.

FOUNDATIONAL MISSION THEOLOGY

Essential to an adequate appreciation of the waves of renewal in mission in the Vatican II era is a deepened comprehension of missiological foundations. Underlying the renewed approaches and concrete initiatives of mission one finds profound theological reflection. Particularly significant areas have been: Christology, Kingdom Theology, Pneumatology (cf. RM 430) as well as catholicity, the paschal mystery, and the triunity of God. Although not always grasped or appreciated by most Catholics, mission theologians have made a significant contribution to Church renewal. One brief example may suffice to illustrate how a renewed missiology has fostered the missionary growth and dynamism of the entire Church.

Pneumatology, the theology of the Holy Spirit, has prospered since the Council. In Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI emphasized that “the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization’’ and that “evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit” (EN 75). Pope John Paul II elaborated upon the vision of Paul VI; one entire chapter of Redemptoris Missio (21-30) is devoted to the Spirit’s role in mission. As noted earlier, John Paul II’s mission vision has been significantly influenced by Vatican II; Catholics “ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known to God offers everyone the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery” (GS 22; cf. RM 6, 10, 28). The theological foundations of mission contain great potential for the transformation of all Christians and their local Churches.

A Reflection on Interreligious Dialogue

A Reflection on Interreligious Dialogue

By Niru Maya Tamang

Interreligious Dialogue of Catholic Church is the most enlightening and informative session to me. The highlighted topic of this session attracted me to take part in it. It was my first online session from the Asian Lay Leaders Forum and I had mixed feelings of both excitement and nervousness. In the first week of the session when pluralism in the Bible was introduced, I felt I was not meant for this session because I was not able to understand anything.

The whole topic, terms and words used in this session was all new to me. I even planned to discontinue this session but I challenged my self and determined to pay good attention in the session and ask the the questions I if did not understand anything. I payed proper attention and found that Fr. Bagus was trying to make us understand each and every new topic in more simpler way, it was me who was stopping to understand that new words not that the words were too difficult. So, the session became more and more interesting with the new topic such as Vatical II, Abu Dhabi Document, Interreligious dialogue of Catholic Church with other religion and much more.

As Nepali Catholic girl, studying in an Islamic country, Bangladesh. In the beginning, found it very difficut to talk with Muslim students due to the stereotypical thinking which I had about them and that they were against christians and that they’re terrorists. I used to feel safe and had a feeling of family with any chiristian students despite of their nationality but used to feel that I was in another planet when I was with non-christian students. But this session especially: Interreligious Dialogue of Catholic Church with Islam and Abu Dhabi Document really helped me a lot to accept each and every person as a creation of God and to respect their religions too. Currently, I have a good relationship with other non-christian students in my university, thanks to this session.

The group discussion was my favorite part of this session because I got to learn and know different experiences and views of other participants in the group. Actually, I did not actively participate in the group discussion, and  sometimes when I did I found that other group members were very supportive, kind and passionate to hear my unrelevent explanation. This group discussion had taught me to open up my self mentally and spiritually and to be more confident in myself.

Lastly,  I used to feel that I knew about my religion: Catholic Church fully but from this session I learned that there are still many things left to be learned and that I did not know about my religion completely. Now I feel that I need to keep on learning about my religion and know about it completely so that one day I can really defend my religion with full confidence against the world of controversies.

Short reflection on the course of Interreligious Dialogue

Short reflection on the course of Interreligious Dialogue

by Br. Paul Won Keun ho, FMS

I asked myself “What have I learned from the course? Or what has changed in me?” First of all, I have learned more about the Muslim and the Christian relationship in terms of the Interrelgious dialogue. In Korea, we have very small numbers of the Muslim and we seldom hear about the news about them. It seems the conflict between the Christian and the Muslim is not our problem. That’s why, in the beginning of the course, I felt some distance or some kind of indifference about the conversation. However, as the Fr. Bagus taught us well and the participants from the other country shared their experiences with the Muslim, I have gained more knowledge and realized how serious this issue in the world and in Asia. The most interesting lessons for me are the last two sessions about Louis Massignon and ‘common word between us and you’. Maybe the information was new to me. I really appreciate the efforts of Louis Massignon and the Muslim scholars. I felt they really tried to understand other religions and to make an initiative to start the conversation.

Secondly, I would like to share the impact of the course on me. At the beginning, I was quite negative on the Interreligious Dialogue. I felt it seems those dialogues were already old fashioned or theologians were not interested on this topic anymore. Maybe it was because of my little knowledge. Through the course, I have learned more knowledge and new trends on the Interreligious Dialogue, then I become more positive about it. Especially when I learned about the other side of effort in the previous session, I become aware of those group of people from the Muslim who have tried their best to make an initiative on Interreligious dialogue. I am happy with this kind of movement from both side of the Catholic and the Muslim. Fr. Bagus also presented an example of those who see negatively in this document and I also felt they have some truths which I need to think about. However, I am more curious about the positive side and the efforts on Interreligious dialogue.

This course will end next week. There were times I felt bored and so tired to concentrate on the lecture of Fr. Bagus because of the late class hour and my insufficient English skills. However, as it is close to the end, I feel that I become more curious and also more interested in the topic and the classmates and of course our beloved teacher, Fr. Bagus. If there is a chance, I would like to see them in person. Thank you Fr. Bagus and the staff of this course. I am very thankful for giving me this opportunity of learning experience. Thank you very much.

My Views on ALL Forum’s Online Course

My Views on ALL Forum’s Online Course

by Suneel Boota, TIL

I am very glad to share my views about ALL Forum Online Course 3: Interreligious Dialogue and Catholic Teachings. In this course Fr. Bagus from Indonesia is our rescores person. In this course we discussed why the interreligious dialogue is important and why the interfaith dialogue is necessary. ALL Forum is playing its role very well during this pandemic situation by training the Asian Lay Leaders through this online course. Talking is important for life no one can live alone in this world we all are depend to one another.

Peace is the world’s most urgent need. All human beings are a human family and God wants all human beings to live happy and healthy lives. Today our world is divided in the face of different types of discrimination. I feel it is time to preach the Gospel of peace and development, without any discrimination, and it’s not possible without interreligious dialogue.

Interreligious dialogue is a challenging process by which believers of differing religious traditions encounter each other in order to break down the walls of division that stand at the center of most wars. The objective of Interreligious Dialogue is Peace.

Interfaith dialogue means the communication, dialogue and cooperation between different faiths and religious groups. Since 1964 the Catholic Church has had the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue established. This council aims to promote respect and collaboration between different faiths and religions. It also aims to promote dialogue to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among peoples of different faiths.

In 2019 His Holiness Father Pope Francis visited United Arab Emirates (UAE), and while leaving UAE His Holiness “I am about to leave for the United Arab Emirates. I am visiting that Country (UAE) as a brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together, and to travel paths of peace together. Pray for me!” Pope Francis.

As I live in Pakistan religious pluralism can exist here and this course will help me to understand the different faiths and beliefs to promote peace in this world. We all are one in Christ and sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Peace starts with a smile.

Reflection on “Online All Forum Course on Interreligious Dialogue”

Reflection on “Online All Forum Course on Interreligious Dialogue”

by Salman Maseeh

A general notion and a nature of dialogue is to sit at one table, communicate with people, groups, communities, cultures etc. we have to be very clear in our mind and thought that dialogue does not mean in the strict sense only between believers but with nonbelievers too.

The real purpose of dialogue is to create harmony, unity, sincerity, reverence for persons and base it more on true human relationships. Pope Paul VI writes about dialogue under apostolic aspect in the Encyclical Letter ‘Ecclesian Suam’ “It is by means of dialogue in the sense that the Church performs its chief function in preaching the Gospel, to all men, giving them in a spirit of reverence and love the gifts of grace and truth which Christ deposited with it”. There is one Greek Philosophical saying “Human being are alive because they participate in God” in other words it means that they dialogue with God, but when we compare these words with Holy Bible the tone is totally changed because not only human being participate and dialogue with God but God also participates and takes initiative in entire humanity and dialogues with them. There is another saying that dialogue is in the nature of God.

When we see in the Sacred Scripture, we come to know that God formed man in his own image and put him in the Garden of Eden and gave them command saying man you are free to eat from every tree of the garden but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you should not eat. But men disobey God and commit sin against him. Further we see when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Lord God. But God called to the man, and said to him, where are you? It is just one example but there are so many references and stories in the Sacred Scripture where we can see God dialogue. Man can live without communities, cultures, religions etc, but he cannot live without having dialogue

When we talk about “Interreligious Dialogue” it should involve mutual gives and take. In Vatican II “Humanae Personae Dignitatem” it mentions that the objective of dialogue is that one should come closer to the other side and should understand it better.

There are also some forms of dialogue mentioned in “Humanae Personae Dignitatem” which says that dialogue should be established only in terms of human relationships, destined to liberate. Dialogue should be established in the realm of truth involving discussion of problems and achievements by common efforts for a better grasp of truth and extension of knowledge. The pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et spes” discusses dialogue with the world as “The preaching of the Gospel is not immediately in question here. Rather it is a dialogue which Christians wish to establish with men, who do not to share their faith, either or in order to search together for the truth in different areas, or in order to solve the more urgent problems of our day by social action”.

I want to conclude while giving congrats to All Forum’s Programs in which they prepare topics relating to Theology, Church Teachings and at the presently a very important topic for social life, to share culture and especially for the course namely “Interreligious Dialogue”. All Forum is providing and giving a platform to Asian Laity as well as Religious who are interested to learn. All Forum Online Course also gives us an opportunity to learn, reflect, share our views and work for the common good.