Pakistan honors priest for promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore 
Pakistan 
May 29, 2019
5ceceeb91d395_600A Catholic priest has been honored by the Pakistan government for his “exemplary services” to promote interfaith harmony and peace in his own country and worldwide.
Father James Channan, a Dominican who has spent 50 years following the spirituality of St. Dominic, received an award at the Interfaith Conference 2019 in Lahore on May 17 that was attended by more than 300 people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, presented the award.
“Many people helped me to reach this place. I praise God, the Church, my community of Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan, and all my friends,” said Father Channan.“I especially thank my Muslim friends who always supported me and my work and keep on appreciating me to continue my mission to promote peace and harmony among the people of Pakistan.“I am actively serving in this mission to build bridges between Christians and the people of other religions, especially with our Muslim brethren, but still I see there is an urgent need for interfaith dialogue.”
Father Channan said his work to promote peace and interfaith harmony brings him peace and mental satisfaction.“I keep on thinking about ways to bring people of various faiths together, to help them to nurture and strengthen peace among them,” he said.“Everybody is my neighbor, and being a follower of Jesus Christ I have to love everybody — it keeps me motivated and zealous. We always have to share this message that we are one human family, following different religions and faiths but living our faiths we have to promote love, unity and peace.”Father James Channan (right) with Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, at the Interfaith Conference. (Photo courtesy of Father Channan) 

Extremists Won’t Hinder Interfaith Dialogue

shutterstock_560746489-1In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Interfaith dialogue is a necessity in our age. In a world suffering from armed conflicts, diplomatic standoffs and trade wars, cooperative and constructive interaction between people of different religious traditions is fundamental to solidifying peace and stability, and stemming racism, xenophobia, radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.

Interreligious dialogue is about encounters — it drives respect, mutual understanding and appreciation for common values. Interfaith dialogue helps debunk the myths and eradicate the stereotypes about religion that politicians abuse to further their (often populist) agendas.

The 1893 Parliament of World Religions at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, is often referred to as the birth of the modern interfaith movement, even though interfaith dialogue has ancient roots. There have been notable examples of collaboration between the devotees of different religions in the far past. In the 16th century, the emperor Akbar the Great encouraged tolerance in Mughal India where people of various faith backgrounds, including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity, lived.

It’s also narrated in the Bible that Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and ordered a temple to be built in Jerusalem upon a decree from God in the first year of his reign. It is for this reason that Cyrus is talked of favorably in the Bible and loved by the Jews.

While such plagues as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism continue to spread intolerance and mar relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians, faith leaders have a crucial responsibility to preach engagement, interaction and peaceful dialogue among their followers to prevent these social gaps from widening further.

Leonard Swidler is professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is the co-founder and director of Global Dialogue Institute and is a major figure in the scholarly study of interfaith dialogue. In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Swidler about interreligious dialogue and the major obstacles blocking successful cooperation between the leaders and adherents of the world’s many faiths.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FAIR OBSERVER

How Mary can be a bridge between Christians and Muslims

lewis-westwood-flood-1436858-unsplash.jpgHe said, ‘I am but a messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste.’

—Qur’an, Sura 19:19-20

It might surprise some Christians to learn that the excerpt from the Annunciation narrative above comes not from the Gospel of Luke but the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. In fact, the Qur’an contains not one but two Annunciation stories. (The other is in Sura 3.) Mary, the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an, has an entire chapter named after her (Sura 19, “Maryam”) and is honored by Muslims as the Virgin Mother of Jesus.

In an era when Islamophobia is on the rise, it seems especially important for Catholic Christians to know that in addition to sharing our belief in the one God, Muslims also share a reverence for Mary. While contrasting ideas about Jesus have long been a dividing line between Christianity and Islam (Christians call him the Son of God, while Muslims call him a prophet), his mother Mary can more easily be seen as an interreligious bridge.

This is exactly how she is viewed in the Second Vatican Council’s document on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Christians, “Nostra Aetate,” which explicitly mentions Mary as a point of agreement between Catholics and Muslims: “[Muslims] also honor Mary, [Jesus’] Virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICAN MAGAZINE 

Ramadan unites Christians and Muslims in Egypt

A group of Muslims and Christians have come together in Egypt to give their time to help the needy of society.

In the Cairo district of Masr El-Qadima, they are putting together Ramadan boxes, filled with basic food items and provisions, which have been donated by volunteers.

Volunteers preparing Ramadan boxes

For the past three years, landlord Atef William has been hosting the activities of an organization called “Helm Establ Antar”, meaning the dream of Establ Antar, the area where it takes place.

“We are all equals, we are Egyptians,” he says. “I was brought up not to differentiate between people on the basis of religion.”

Atef William

Much like Masr El-Qadima, the middle-class district of Shobra is considered to have a high level of social coexistence with friendly residents.

Gamil Banayouty is a Christian. He organises an iftar tent that has been set every Ramadan for the last 40 years. He works alongside elderly men who were teenagers when the activity first started.

Gamil Banayouty

“Our Ramadan table is called the National Unity Media, and it’s open to everyone – Muslims, Christians, we don’t differentiate,” he explains. “As for me, I’ve been attached to the month of Ramadan since the October War [1973 Arab–Israeli War]. I was an officer, and we were fighting during Ramadan, and I could not not fast with my soldiers. ”

Banayouty and his neighbours are very proud to have kept the iftar activity going for such a long time and they continue to reap the reward of the unity it brings between their community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EURONEWS

Are Muslims and Christians at war? The data says no

190421152149-19-sri-lanka-blasts-04212019-exlarge-169(CNN)The bombings on Easter Sunday of eight sites in Sri Lanka, including three churches, seemed designed not only to inflict mass casualties but also to send a message.

Initial investigations showed the chain of bombings was carried out by “a radical Islam group,” perhaps as retaliation for mass shootings in March at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sri Lanka’s state defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardana, said Tuesday.
ISIS has reportedly taken credit for the slaughter in Sri Lanka but did not immediately offer proof of its involvement.
To some, the bombings, carried out on the holiest day in the Christian calendar, has fed a narrative of religious war. Christians and Muslims, this theory goes, are increasingly at odds and willing to strike at each other’s spiritual hearts — sanctuaries.
To be utterly clear: Any attack on any house of worship is heinous and should be unequivocally condemned. In too many parts of the world, Christians are attacked by Muslims and vice versa.
But taking the long view, the data on terrorist attacks does not support a narrative of incipient religious war or sanctuaries facing increasing threats.
From 1970 to 2017, attacks at houses of worship comprised just 1.45% of all terrorist attacks worldwide, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism(START) at the University of Maryland.

Deadly attacks in Sri Lanka tap into global anxiety about Christian-Muslim violence

QNVVPQTE3YI6TJUYFKHYBDE47MThe Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country not known for religious violence or intolerance, are tapping into global worries about safety.

Experts who study long-term trends of religious intolerance and violence disagree, however, on whether things are getting worse, better or generally have remained level.

Even so, religious leaders say the attacks have come at a fragile time.

Religious institutions are losing power, and anger, tribalism and controversy boil away online every minute of the day. It’s hard to gauge or stop tensions from ballooning, they say, and the Sri Lanka attacks are a reminder of the risks.

Sri Lankan officials — with help from the FBI — Monday said the attacks were carried out by the National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group, with suspected international assistance.

“Here’s a nation that has pluralism and yet still had religious terrorism. It reminds you there isn’t one solution, no one safe place. It’s surprising,” said Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College and has trained evangelists across the world.

The attacks in Sri Lanka come as other incidents are fresh in memory. Those include the killings of 50 people at a New Zealand mosque last month, the October 2018 killing of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the deaths of at least 45 people during twin Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt in April 2017.

In the United States, churches and mosques have begun adding security infrastructure to their places of worship. At the same time, there are high-level interfaith and pluralism efforts going on between Christian and Muslim leaders and groups that didn’t exist a generation ago. Those include the creation of international religious freedom ambassadors in several Western countries, said Rabbi David Saperstein, who held that position under President Barack Obama. They also include the Marrakesh Declaration, a January 2016 statement by hundreds of Muslim religious leaders worldwide committing to the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. The Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest Protestant U.S. denomination, has filed court briefs in support of religious freedom for Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Interfaith forum explores commonalities between Catholic and Muslim views of Mary and Jesus

5c9ed13dad297.imageFrom Adam to Abraham, Islam and Christian commonality both includes a reverence for Mary and Jesus, attendees learned March 24 at an interfaith forum at Sacred Heart Church in Dearborn.

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The three-part interfaith forum, with speakers, small group discussion, and a question and answer period, was designed to explore the common beliefs between Islam and Christianity, which, with Judaism, all spring from Abrahamic religions.

Sacred Heart parishioner Chris DuBois (left) joins another attendee in discussion after listening to speakers at an interfaith gathering March 24 in the parish hall at Sacred Heart Catholic Church exploring the commonalities between the Catholic and Islamic beliefs about Mary and Jesus.

Held in the Sacred Heart parish hall, the featured speakers were Robert Fastiggi, a professor of systemic theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.

Fastiggi said one of the central beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus Christ performed miracles through the power within him, and that he is the son of God. He noted that the triune God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is considered one God in Christian belief, not three.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRESS AND GUIDE