Category Archives: Interfaith Dialogue

Pope tells Christians, and Jews, of the guidance of Providence: work together for common good

A delegation of B’nai B’rth International met with Pope Benedict today in Rome. They had done the same 5 years ago (here is the Pope 18 December 2006 address). This meeting is a follow-up meeting of a February meeting held in Paris marking the 40th anniversary of official dialogue between the Holy See and the Jews. As in 2006 so today, the Pope has called Chrsitians and Jews to work more closely together on common projects of healing, spiritual and more values grounded in faith and works of charity for the good of the other. A portion of what the Pope said may be of some interest here:

The Paris meeting affirmed the desire of Catholics and Jews to stand together in meeting the immense challenges facing our communities in a rapidly changing world and, significantly, our shared religious duty to combat poverty, injustice, discrimination and the denial of universal human rights. There are many ways in which Jews and Christians can cooperate for the betterment of the world in accordance with the will of the Almighty for the good of mankind. Our thoughts turn immediately to practical works of charity and service to the poor and those in need; yet one of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image (cf. Gen 1:26-27) and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being.

In a recent conversation between delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, held in Jerusalem at the end of March, stress was laid on the need to promote a sound understanding of the role of religion in the life of our present-day societies as a corrective to a purely horizontal, and consequently truncated, vision of the human person and social coexistence. The life and work of all believers should bear constant witness to the transcendent, point to the invisible realities which lie beyond us, and embody the conviction that a loving, compassionate Providence guides the final outcome of history, no matter how difficult and threatening the journey along the way may sometimes appear. Through the prophet we have this assurance: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).

The on-going work of remembering of the Jewish holocaust

H2O News aired an interview with an acquaintance of mine, Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, who gave his family’s recollection of the Nazi atrocities in WWII. Himself a convert to Catholicism his thoughts are poignant. Each year at January’s end there is a Day of Remembrance. Father David is the vicar of Hebrew Christians for the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. I recommend watching the interview.

Father Samir Khalil Samir speaks on Egyptian reform today

Egyptian Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir is a Professor
at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute and scholar on Islam spoke to Emer
McCarthy, an interviewer at Vatican Radio who asked by if a Western concept of political
democracy is adequate to Egypt and other Arab nations. Father Samir saidit is
“applicable but not yet practicable.”

He further said, “What we need first of
all is justice, equality, social reform because the gap between rich and poor
is far too wide and this is the real cause of the Islamic fundamentalist
movement. We need change, the Arab world must change. We need alternate parties
but in our countries there is nothing”. 

Plus, it was advanced that “If you have
authoritarian regimes they systematically destroy all the leaderships so only
people who are in agreement with the current system are in power”. In the case
of Egypt “Mubarack nominated his second in command, Omar Suleiman who is a good
diplomat a military officer. But the question is this good for the country?”.

For more on the story, read it here

Dialogue frozen between the Vatican & Islamic University of Al-Azhar

Controversies never end between the Holy See and Islam. Dialogue between a Vatican group and an Egyptian one is now suspended in a surprising move. From what I can tell, some individuals are easily swayed by sentiment and the immediacy of political power and not by true faith and reason. Not to mention the poor translations of speeches given by the Pope. This is not a new issue and it is a matter of concern. I am inclined to say that the tensions originate not in Pope Benedict’s statements on Islam and Christianity, religious freedom and reciprocity, and faith and reason, but the tensions in Egypt (and other Islamic countries) over secularizing tendencies of some government leaders and the more conservative religious types. Islam, like Christianity, is in a precarious situation with the faith not being able to fruitfully interact in society. They are facing what 1968 was for the West. Islam is losing ground with many people, though it’s hard to prove this on occasion. On the other hand, I am not convinced, from what I read coming from certain religious leaders in Islam, that broadening reason by faith is a priority. They say one thing and do something opposite. Many of them can’t (won’t?) distinguish secularity from secularism. Certainly conflicting statements and reversing previously held “positions” is confusing and leading to heightened anxieties.

Now the Islamic University of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, is accusing Pope Benedict with propagating a negative attitudes toward Islam and therefore freezing dialogue. Those who hold that idea aren’t reading what the Pope has said. And our consistent approach is openness to dialogue. What does that tell you? And who, really, does the dialogue benefit? The answer: the West according to some Muslims.
This statement comes a month before the meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions. provided this story today. I highly recommend it.

Pakistani Muslims Protest Pope

pakistani Pope protest.jpgPakistani Muslims protested the part of Pope Benedict’s State of the World address where he says the blasphemy law ought to be repealed. Well, Pakistan’s Muslims don’t think it’s wise.

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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