Interfaith Dialogue: November 2008 Archives

Sant Egidio peace.jpgOn November 21, Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the international Community of Sant'Egidio announced that the next international inter-religious encounter, in 2009, will be in Krakow, Poland, honoring the memory of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II and to recall the terrible tragedy of Auschwitz, where evil manifested its ugly face.




World leaders, religious and political, have met for prayer periodically since 1986 when the landmark event was first lived in Assisi.

Sant Egidio member.jpg 

The H2O News video report.


The Community of Sant'Egidio has been in the United States since 1990, more info is found here.


The Wiki article is here.

The Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue


cipro2008.jpgThe meeting, which has been promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Church of Cyprus, takes place in Nicosia from 16 to 18 November.

The Cyprus date is a further leg of the pilgrimage undertaken by the Community of Sant'Egidio to carry forward the legacy of the historic World Day of Prayer for Peace convened in Assisi by Pope John Paul II on October 27, 1986.

Over these twenty-two years, invitations from the Community have led men and women from diverse cultures and religions onto the pathway of encounter, dialogue and prayer for peace. The pilgrimage has called on various locations around the world, spreading the "Spirit of Assisi", creating ties of friendship and cooperation, testifying to a common will to create a culture of coexistence.

On opening the last meeting, held in Naples in October 2007, Pope Benedict 16th stated: "In respecting the differences between the various faiths, we are all called upon to work for peace and to make a concrete effort to further reconciliation between nations. This is the authentic "Spirit of Assisi"... religions can and must offer a precious resource for constructing a peaceful humanity, because they speak of peace being at the heart of humankind".

The Cyprus Meeting constitutes part of this commitment.

The island, lying at the heart of the Mediterranean, touched on by the preaching of St Paul the Apostle, place of encounter between a variety of cultures and religions, will host several hundred figures from every part of the world: representatives of the worlds of religion, of culture and of politics. They will enliven around 20 "round tables", open - as is the tradition at these encounters - to participation by the public.

The Closing Ceremony will take place on November 18 in the heart of the capital, Nicosia; it will feature the proclamation the Appeal for Peace.

As in previous years, this site will follow the event via a live video web-link.


The Program


The (C.I.S.R.O.) is a network of Angelo Scola.jpgcontacts that gives Christians and Muslims a chance to meet and promote mutual knowledge and understanding. Founded in September 2004 by the Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Cardinal Scola, as part of the Studium Generale Marcianum, the Centre sees itself as a venue for the exchange of experiences and points of view between people from different ecclesial realities (some churches in Europe and some Christian communities in predominantly-Muslim countries) and Muslims from various backgrounds.

The Centre's main field of interest is to examine how Christian and Muslim believers actually relate to and interact with one another for the purpose of building the "good life" in personal and social terms in a world like today's world that is characterised by cross-cultural and intra-civilisational métissage.


A recent introduction to the Oasis journal read:


The first seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum belongs to a long line of meetings that have been promoted above all since the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate, a point of reference for inter-religious dialogue. The visit of John Paul II to the mosque of Damascus and the visit of prayer of Benedict XVI to the Blue Mosque of Istanbul remain emblematic.

Blue mosque visit of B16.jpgBut the meeting of these days has two new features - one relating to method and the other to contents. At the level of method, the Forum appears on the Muslim side no longer as an initiative of individual personalities or States but as the expression of a general agreement. From the initial response to the Ratisborn address with its 38 signatories to the subsequent declaration A Common Word with the adherence of 138 personalities, which was subsequently expanded, the tendency on the Muslim side has been to achieve basic agreement to dialogue with Christians. This is not a secondary question because agreement for a large part of Muslim theology is one of the sources of the elaboration of doctrine.   

The second new feature is that in this Forum, as in the open letter, the emphasis has been placed in a decisive way on the religious dimension, if not even on the strictly theological dimension. In the communiqué that preceded this event one reads that the composition of the delegations is 'religious and not political', 'is separate from the diplomatic relations of States and was constituted on the basis of sapiential authority'. Indeed, it is evident that the statement of principle contained in the open letter must be verified in the light of its concrete translation into a context which is increasingly difficult for Christian minorities, as the continuing exodus of Christians from the Middle East demonstrates. However, the wish of the two parties is not to dissolve the specificity of the religious fact into, albeit important, geopolitical considerations.

One of the moving spirits of Islamic-Christian dialogue, Father Georges Anawati, loved to repeat that in this field it was necessary to arm oneself with 'geological patience'. It would, therefore, be illusory to imagine that wounds that go back more than a thousand years can be healed in the space of a few months. The aim of the Forum is to explore the affirmation of love of God and neighbour in its theological and spiritual aspects but also in relation to its practical consequences for the defence of the dignity of the human person and the defence of religious freedom. The fifteen points of the final document offer different points of departure in this direction. It is certainly the case that today there are many questions which must be answered, but for a believer the most burning question is perhaps the simplest one: do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Without this mutual recognition everything becomes more difficult. The answer on the Catholic side is clear and was proposed by Lumen Gentium, in n. 16: 'But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind'. This was an answer emphasised yesterday by Benedict XVI in his audience to the participants: 'I am well aware that Muslims and Christians have different approaches in matters regarding God. Yet we can and must be worshippers of the one God who created us and is concerned about each person in every corner of the world'

On the Muslim side Seyyed Hossein Nasr stated: 'For both us and you, God is at once transcendent and immanent, creator and sustainer of the world... the lover whose love embraces the whole of the created order'. This is the basic belief that inspires the continuation of dialogue.


All the articles and other documentation is archived here.


cis 317.JPGAlso, you might want to read a good, brief introduction to the field of Catholic-Muslim theology, What Catholics Should Know about Islam by Dr. Sandra T. Keating published by the Catholic Information Service.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Interfaith Dialogue category from November 2008.

Interfaith Dialogue: December 2008 is the next archive.

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