Category Archives: Interfaith Dialogue

Paolo Dall’Oglio reported killed by Islamic rebels in Syria

The Reuters news agency, and several other agencies are reporting, though not the Holy See as yet, that Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria killed Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, 59, who was kidnapped on 29 July.

Pope Francis mentioned his name at Mass on the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola on 31 July.

For the past 30 thirty years Father Dall’Oglio has been leading a religious and cultural life at the Monastery of Saint Moses (Deir Mar Musa). The Monastery and its community was known to be an interfaith center devoted to Muslim-Christian friendship. Rebuilding this 6th century but abandoned monastery was Father’s and his small community’s attempt at preserving Syrian Christian establishments. One of the stunning pieces of Syrian religious patrimony Dall’Oglio preserved was an 11th century fresco of the Last Judgment.

Father Dall’Oglio was ordained as a Syrian Catholic priest; he spoke Arabic and studied Islamic theology and philosophy. His doctoral studies and writing at the Gregorian University concentrated on the virtue of hope in Islam.

Father was expelled from Syria in 2012, though he would sneak back into the country from time-to-time.

More recently his voice has been heard in calling for the deposition of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups.

Eternal memory.

Passover 2013, Francis united in prayer with the Jewish people

English: Passover Seder Table, Jewish holidays...

Tonight, 15th of Nissan, begins the annual days prayer remembering the liberation of the captive Jews in Egypt by God. The theological reality of the Passover is not merely relating to events of 3000 years ago, but an active remembrance (liturgically called anamnesis) that God leads us to freedom today: from slavery of sin to the grace of freedom; from being chained to unfaithfulness to the freedom of love and mercy. Christians will hear echoes in what is believed about Jesus and Holy Week. All leavened foods will be destroyed, needed cleaning done, and time for prayer and fasting. Read the Book of Exodus. The ritual mean of the sedar is a mix of biblical narrative, song and friendship. Passover ends on April 2 (in Israel the observance is 7 days, other places it’s 8).

The Holy Father unites himself, and us, with our Jewish brethren:

A few days on from our meeting, and with renewed gratitude for your having desired to honour the celebration of the beginning of my ministry with your presence and that of other distinguished members of the Jewish community, I take great pleasure in extending my warmest best wishes to you and Rome’s entire Jewish community on the occasion of the Great Feast of Pesach. May the Almighty, who freed His people from slavery in Egypt to guide them to the Promised Land continue to deliver you from all evil and to accompany you with His blessing. I ask you to pray for me, as I assure you of my prayers for you, confident that we can deepen [our] ties of mutual esteem and friendship.


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Pope Francis meets with ecumenical partners and representatives of world religions

The Pope met today with Orthodox leaders, Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox, the Anglicans, other ecclesial communities and leaders of various other religions. Of particular interest is the personal meeting of Francis and Bartholomew; the Pope also met with Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rome Reports has a review of this important ecumenical meeting.

Francis and Bartholomew March 20 2013.jpg

First of all, heartfelt thanks for what my Brother Andrew told us. Thank you so much! Thank you so much!

It is a source of particular joy to meet you today, delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. Thank you for wanting to take part in the celebration that marked the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

Yesterday morning, during the Mass, through you , I recognized the communities you represent. In this manifestation of faith, I had the feeling of taking part in an even more urgent fashion the prayer for the unity of all believers in Christ, and together to see somehow prefigured the full realization of full unity which depends on God’s plan and on our own loyal collaboration.

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Ecumenical and Interfaith leaders respond to the election of Pope Francis

Surveying what the ecumenical crowd has to say about this papal election is mixed at best. Time will tell about our interfaith friends, namely the Jewish and Muslim communities. It is said that Pope Francis has had very strong friendships with the Jewish community of Argentina.

On Wednesday night when Pope Francis was introduced to the world on the loggia he said, “And now let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.”

Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (of Constantinople) will attend the enthronement of the newly-elected Pope of Rome on March 19. This is the first time since 1054 that Orthodox bishops will be in attendance. Bartholomew will be accompanied by the Metropolitan of Pergamum, John (Zizoulas), the Metropolitan of Buenos Aires, Tarasios (a native of San Antonio, Texas) and the Metropolitan of Italy, Gennadios.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, spoke on Thursday that he thought a meeting between the Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was “possible but the place and timing will depend on how quickly we will overcome the consequences of the conflicts from the turn of 1980s and 1990s.” Hilarion notes, “on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy towards the Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts.” The Orthodox still refuse to accept the fact that some Christians in the Byzantine East want, in their own freedom, be in communion with the bishop of Rome. Tensions run high when it comes to thinking about the Ukrainian Byzantine Church using the title of Patriarch for their head and the existence of Latin Catholic dioceses in Russia.

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Significant remarks from the Evangelization Synod: on interreligious dialogue

Jean Louis TauranIn the time following the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization I think we need to review what was said. So often we move on so fast when an event is finished. A judgment, that is, an assessment, is required to understand with clarity and charity.

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, challenged a trend in the work of interreligious dialogue at the recent Synod of Bishops:

Christians often ignorant of the content of their own faith and incapable because of this of living of and for it, are not capable of interreligious dialogue that always begins with the assertion of one’s own convictions: there is no room for syncretism or relativism! Faced with adepts from other religions with a strong religious identity, it is necessary to present motivated and doctrinally equipped Christians. This makes the new evangelization a priority to form coherent Christians, capable of demonstrating their faith, with simple words and without fear.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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