Muslim-Christian meeting in Taizé helps young people dialogue

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Young Muslims and Christians discuss their respective beliefs as they share a meal together at Taizé. (Photo by Guillaume Poli/Ciric)

 

Young Christians and Muslims from across France who participated in a three-day event at Taizé Ecumenical Community say they not only experienced dialogue for common good but also became aware of fundamental faith questions.

Filling three rows under a church marquee, participants addressed a series of tough questions from the organizers, including: Do you admire anything in each other’s religion? Has this diminished your commitment to your own religion?

Among those attending were Samia, a Muslim from Syria; Eglantine, Sylvain and Anne-Sophie, all French Catholics; Lydia, a German who was raised in a “strict” Protestant family; Marvin, a Muslim from Guinea; and Bart, a Pole who lives in the United Kingdom.

Their discussion began with a key question: How to engage in dialogue without renouncing the belief that one’s own religion leads to the Truth?

Each participant sought to answer to this delicate question, drawing on the comments by Auxiliary Bishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, who is president of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Bishops Conference of France (CEF).

“If I claim to have the truth, it implies that I have had a good look around,” Bishop Aveline said. “Thus, I think that God enables me to discover the faith a little more deeply through others.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM LACROIX INTERNATIONAL

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Resources on Christian-Muslim Relations

A helpful list of resources on promoting positive interreligious relations from the global ministries division of the United Methodist Church:
FULL LIST HERE

General Books on Interfaith Relations 

 
beyond_tolerance.jpg Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America, by Gustav Niebuhr—In this lucid account of interfaith encounter in the US, Niebuhr presents historical and current anecdotes, highlighting the need to go “beyond tolerance.” This book is a helpful experiential examination of engagement among faith communities in this country.
517CEru1XPL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_ A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation, by Dr. Diana Eck—A professor at Harvard University and director of the Pluralism Project [www.pluralism.org], Eck writes this field standard—and eminently readable—book about the religious composition of the US today. It has been out for about 10 years, but it still timely and very helpful.
when_religion_becomes_evil.jpg When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs, by Rev. Charles Kimball—Kimball served at the National Council of Churches in the Interfaith Relations office, and is well-qualified to address the issues posed by the title of this book. Library Journal writes, “After 9/11, we all need to consider how religious practice can lead to evil. Kimball includes many religions in his discussion but focuses on Christianity and Islam because they are the largest and are both missionary religions.”

 

FULL LIST HERE 

A Journey Across Differences (Indonesia)

566875_620Rebuilding Peace in Ambon

Various groups have been working to end religious segregation and nurture peace following the 1999 bloody conflict between Muslims and Christians in Ambon.

Iskandar Slamet can now enjoy going on adventures. There is no need for him to leave Ambon, let alone travel overseas. Often he will embark on a solo escape to the mountains, the beachesandAmbon’s backroads, though sometimes he will travel with his peers, nature-loving Pattimura University alumni or other members of Bareksa Aksara-a community of youths who bring non-formal education to children in the Maluku Islands.

The 33-year-old’s wanderlust was kindled in 2006. Before, the segregation that followed the bloody conflict between Ambon’s Muslim and Christian communities made it impossible for him to explore even his own city.

“My world was very limited,” said Iskandar, who studied fisheries and maritime subjects as a university student. “As a Muslim, I was afraid to wander into Christian residential pockets and vice versa.”

In January 1999, riots between Christians and Muslims broke out in Ambon. People in the two camps terrorized and murdered each other, turning Ambon into a battleground. Churches and mosques were destroyed and casualties were claimed from both communities.

Iskandar’s adolescence was far from happy. He grew up exposed to machetes, bombs, screaming, bloodshed and dead bodies. He himself, at the time a 13-year-old ninth grader, became a fighter. His blood had boiled when his brother’s leg was gutted in a bombing. “I also killed. I even became the gang leader at school, commanding my friends to do the same,” said Iskandar. “But at the time we only had two options: killed or be killed.”

Iskandar believes that the tragedy shattered not only harmony between residents, but also the city itself. Although tensions had cooled several years later, there was still apprehension between Muslims and Christians. Muslims were still scared to visit Christian neighborhoods and vice versa.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TEMPCO

Interreligious dialogue needed to combat terrorism

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Catholic bishops from Burkina Faso and Niger have called for better dialogue between Muslim and Christian communities in an effort to combat terrorism.

The bishops were in Rome May 20-28 for their ad limina visit, which Catholic bishops must make every five years to report to the pope on their respective dioceses and meet with Vatican officials.

The 21 bishops from Burkina Faso and Niger were welcomed by Pope Francis.

At the top of the list of their pastoral concerns they shared with the pope were security and interreligious dialogue.

“The Catholic Church is surrounded by Muslim populations, and in Burkina Faso, Muslims make up 60 percent of the population,” said Archbishop Paul Yemboaro Ouédraogo of Bobo-Dioulasso, president of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger.

This is why forging peaceful and cohesive relations is fundamental, he said after his audience with Pope Francis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM LA CROIX

Jew, Christian, Muslim: ‘See the Beloved everywhere’

jew christian muslimNothing in my uber-Catholic background (weekly Mass and confession, memorizing the Baltimore Catechism, strict nun teachers) could have prepared me to participate in a zikr at which Muslim, Jewish and Christian people chanted the name of God, while the imam sang a melodic line over the chant.

Some of the women draped in scarves swayed back and forth, we all felt held by the chanting, and I began to understand why it is a component of much of the world’s worship. The dictionary definition of zikr is a form of remembrance “associated chiefly with Sufism, when the worshiper is absorbed in the rhythmic repetition of God’s name or attributes.”

 

Much of the imam’s initial talk resonated with what I already believed. “See the Beloved everywhere,” he encouraged. “Be so crazily in love you’re like the besotted 13-year-old who, asked about ice cream, sighs, ‘My favorite flavor is chocolate.’ ”

His words about God’s spark within being the source of human dignity touched a familiar chord — as a Catholic, I’d heard that message, named Divine indwelling, often. Muhammad said, “Wherever you turn, there is the face of God.” In the Jewish kabbalah or mystical teaching, God hurled forth the holy in countless sparks at the beginning of time; it whispers to us from all created people and things. When we descend to the deepest underground stream, all religions echo similar truths.

I’ve learned this firsthand from my interfaith group of five Muslim, five Jewish and five Christian women who meet monthly, taking turns in their homes.

A typical gathering starts with a potluck of snacks and informal conversation. Then after prayer, a facilitator (a rotating role) lays groundwork for the theme of the evening. We’ve discussed threads common to all traditions, like various religious holidays, the importance of pilgrimages, communal and individual prayer, action for justice, and environmental protection. There’s strong consensus that we must, in whatever small ways we can, offset the current government’s antipathy to Islam and hostility to refugees. After both January Women’s Marches, we shared our experiences and chortled at our favorite signs.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER

Nigerian bishop promotes dialogue between Muslims and Christians after years of violence

6a28c5584939387432295685a18f4533_XLVANCOUVER – In the 23 years since Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama became a bishop, he has not taken one day off from promoting dialogue and peace between Christians and Muslims.

“If there is anybody who should be advocating a violent response to Muslim attacks, it should be me,” he told The B.C. Catholic during his first visit to Canada June 7-14. “I have experienced it in my ethnic group and from my work as a priest. I should know. My people have died in front of me.”

In 2014, the world was shocked when more than 270 girls from the primarily Christian Nigerian town of Chibok were kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram, forced to convert and held for ransom.

It wasn’t an isolated incident, and violence, terrorism and corruption are still daily realities in Nigerian communities. In January, a mass funeral was held for 72 people killed during a fight between what appeared to be mostly Muslim cattle herders and mainly Christian farmers on New Year’s Day. About three months later, 19 Christians were killed when gunmen opened fire at Mass and set fire to about 50 homes in a remote village. Among the dead were two priests.

“It has always been a challenge. There has never been a peaceful moment,” said Kaigama, whose trip through several Canadian cities was sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical charity for Catholics suffering poverty or persecution.

Despite his anger, Kaigama says violence will only lead to more violence. So, since his ordination at the age of 36, he has been promoting peace and inter-religious dialogue. “Either we do something, or we perish together.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC REGISTER 

Christian-Muslim dialogue depends upon knowledge and trust

20170921T1318-11715-CNS-POPE-MUSLIM_800-690x450[Dr. Rita George-Tvrtković is associate professor of theology at Benedictine University, where she specializes in medieval and contemporary Christian-Muslim relations. Recent books include A Christian Pilgrim in Medieval Iraq: Riccoldo da Montecroce’s Encounter with Islam, and the forthcoming Christians, Muslims, and Mary: A History (Paulist Press, 2018). She is former associate director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and currently lives in Chicago with her husband Zoran and their children, Luka and Anya Lucia. She spoke to Charles Camosy after participating in an interfaith discussion held Oct. 22 and 23 at Catholic University of America, which brought together five Christian and five Muslim scholars from around the United States.]

Camosy: How and why did you get involved in Catholic-Muslim dialogue more generally? 

George-Tvrtković: I’ve been involved at the grassroots level in Chicago since 1997. From 1999-2002, including during the drama of 9/11, I was Associate Director of Archdiocese of Chicago’s Ecumenical & Interreligious office. Then I studied theology and medieval Catholic-Muslim relations at Notre Dame.

Now I’m associate professor of theology at Benedictine University in the suburbs of Chicago, where over 25 percent of our student body is Muslim. I’ve always combined scholarship and grassroots dialogue.

As a Catholic, I am exhorted by Nostra Aetate [the Vatican II document on the relation of the Church with non-Christian religions – Ed.] and other teachings to engage in dialogue with people of different religions. Furthermore, my institution, Benedictine University has a special calling to interreligious hospitality, which is rooted in Ch. 53 of the Rule of St. Benedict (On the Reception of Guests), which itself is rooted in Christ’s call to welcome the stranger.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX NOW