Henri Le Saux
Swami Abhishiktananda
+December 7, 1973
Commemorative articles in Vol. XIII, No. 2 of 
Dilatato Corde
The Origins, Organization, and Activities of DIM•MID
The impetus for creating a special monastic organization to promote and coordinate interreligious dialogue came from a letter the late Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli, president of what is now the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, sent to the Benedictine Abbot Primate Rembert Weakland in 1974.
In his letter, Cardinal Pignedoli asked the monastic orders in the Church to take a leading role in interreligious dialogue because, as he put it,
Historically, the monk has always been the most representative figure of homo religiosus and thus represents a point of attraction and reference for Christians and non-Christians. The presence of monasticism in the Catholic Church is in itself a bridge spanning all religions. If we were to present ourselves to Buddhism and Hinduism, not to mention other religions, without the monastic religious experience, we would hardly be credible as religious persons.
Cardinal Pignedoli’s request led to the establishment, in 1978, of European and North American sub-commissions for interreligious dialogue within the Alliance for International Monasticism (A.I.M.), an organization that had been founded more than a decade earlier. A.I.M. had already sponsored several conferences to help monks and nuns in mission lands better understand the cultural and religious setting in which they now lived. One of those meetings, the one held in Bangkok in 1968, is especially remembered because it was there that the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, one of the pioneers of monastic interreligious dialogue, died accidentally.
In 1994, Abbot Primate Jerome Theisen arranged for the establishment of an independent general secretariat for interreligious dialogue. Although the secretariat was set up within the Benedictine Confederation, it would also serve the two branches of the Cistercian order. To emphasize the international character of this secretariat, it was called Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Hence, the acronym DIM•MID.
Regional and linguistic commissions of DIM•MID have been established in Europe, North America, Australia, and Korea to promote interest and involvement in interreligious dialogue. In 2011 a multi-lingual on-line journal was founded. The name of the journal, Dilatato Corde, comes from a passage in the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict: “For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand (dilatato corde)and we run the way of God's commandments.” The journal provides a forum for individuals to describe and reflect on how their hearts have been expanded and their Christian faith deepened by knowledge of other religions, interreligious friendships, and understanding, and even adopting, spiritual practices from other religious traditions. If you want to be notified when new articles and announcements are posted, email the Associate Editor at and request that your email address be added to the list.
DIM•MID focuses on dialogue with monks and nuns of other religious traditions, whose monastic way of life, it should be noted, predates Christian monasticism by about a thousand years. A “Spiritual Exchange” program between Japanese Zen Buddhist monks and nuns and Christian monastic communities has been ongoing since 1979. A bi-lingual documentary film, “La voie de l’hospitalitéStrangers No More,” highlights these exchanges, which have been a significant way for European monastic communities to offer interreligious hospitality
In recent years, DIM•MID has broadened its understanding of monastic interreligious dialogue to mean dialogue with other spiritual practitioners about their religious experience and observances—what the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue refers to as the fourth form of dialogue. Based on this way of understanding monastic dialogue, DIM•MID has formally entered into dialogue with Muslims, whose religious practices, especially the observance of set times for prayer each day, are strikingly “monastic.”
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