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August 27, 2020
WCC/PCID Document on Pandemic



The World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue today issued a joint document on the importance of interreligious solidarity in a world wounded by the COVID-19  pandemic. Click here for the Vatican press release and here for the document.

February 8, 2020
RIP Father Bernard de Give OCSO


Father Bernard (Michel) de Give, a monk of the Trappist Abbey of Scourmont in Belgium, died on January 27 at the age of 106. He was born in Liège on May 8, 1913, entered the Society of Jesus in 1931, was ordained a priest in 1944, and entered Scourmont in 1972. Father de Give was a founding member of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. His biography and a list of his published works can be found in Wikipedia. His book, A Trappist Meeting Monks from Tibet, was reviewed in the first issue of Dilatato Corde.

July 4, 2019
New Secretary of the PCID


Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Monsignor Kodithuwakku is a priest of the Diocese of Badulla (Sri Lanka) and until now has been Under-Secretary of the same Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

July 3, 2019


The International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS) presented its 2019 Thomas Merton Award to Fr. Jaechan Anselmo Park OSB for Thomas Merton's Encounter with Buddhism and Beyond: His Interreligious Dialogue, Inter-monastic Exchanges, and Their LegacyIn this book, recently published by Liturgical Press, Father Anselmo explores Merton’s encounter with Zen and Tibetan Buddhists and his pioneering engagements in Buddhist-Christian dialogue.
Father Anselmo is a monk of Saint Maurus and  Saint Placidus Abbey in Waegwan, South Korea, and presently serves as superior of the abbey’s dependent foundation in Busan and as a member of the board of directors of DIM·MID. He recently completed a doctorate in sacred theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto, Canada.
In presenting the award at its annual meeting, which took place June 27 - 30, 2019 – at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA., ITMS president, Mark Meade, said, “Father Anselmo is an example of someone who plans to let Merton’s model of dialogue guide his vocation as an Asian Christian monk in dialogue with the Buddhist and Zen monastic traditions.”
ITMS gives the Thomas Merton Award to an individual who has written and published in the period between the General Meetings a work on Merton and his concerns that has brought provocative insight and fresh direction to Merton studies.
At another organization’s annual meeting, the 2019 Catholic Media Conference held in St. Petersburg, Florida, in June, Liturgical Press received awards for the works of two other Benedictines long associated with DIM·MID.
First place for a hard cover book in the area of Spirituality went to Spirituality: An Art of Living by Benoît Standaert OSB, a monk of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Belgium and member of the DIM·MID board of directors. Third place for a soft cover book in the area of spirituality went to Renouncing Violence by Sister Mary Margaret Funk of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana, who served for many years as the Executive Director of the North American Commission of DIM·MID.

May 25, 2019
New President of the PCID

The Holy Father appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue HE Mons. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot,MCCJ, Titular Bishop of Luperciana, until now Secretary of the same Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. (Daily Bulletin of the Vatican Press Office)
Noember 20, 2018
World Parliament of Religions


Over 7,500 people from 80 countries came together November 1-7 for the 7th assembly of the World Parliament of Religions, held this time in Toronto, Canada, under the theme of "The Promise of Inclusion and the Power of Love." Read Fr. Thomas Ryan’s Report in Koinonia
October 25, 2018
R.I.P. Father Thomas Keating OCSO


Father Thomas Keating OCSO, the first president of the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, died on October 25, 2018, at the age of 95. He was an early and particularly important figure in the promotion of contemplative prayer and interreligious dialogue.  An obituary in the National Catholic Reporter features an interview with Sister Meg Funk OSB, the former Executive Director of  the North American Comission Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

September 13-14, 2018
Georgetown Conference on Future Directions for Interreligious Dialogue

Promoting mercy, mutual understanding, and spiritual companionship were among the recommendations for future directions for interreligious dialogue at a conference held at Georgetown University. Read full press release.
September 14, 2018
Algerian Martyrs to be Beatified in Algeria December 8

Algerian Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran
Algerian Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, Algeria, the country's bishops announced.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, will preside over the Mass and beatification rite for the six women and 13 men who gave their lives "for the least, the sick and the men, women and young people of Algeria," said a statement published by the bishops Sept. 13.
The martyrs "are given to us as intercessors and models of Christian life, friendship and fraternity, encounter and dialogue," the bishops said. "May their example help us in our life today."
"From Algeria, their beatification will be an impetus and a call for the church and for the world to build together a world of peace and fraternity," the bishops said.
The 19 martyrs were killed between 1993 and 1996 while Algeria was locked in a 10-year-long armed conflict between government forces and extremist Islamic rebel groups; the conflict left tens of thousands of people dead.
Bishop Pierre Claverie and his driver were killed by a remote-controlled bomb left by the bishop's residence, and the seven Trappist monks, who had been kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, were beheaded by a group of Islamic terrorists trained by the al-Qaida network. The monks' story was treated in the film "Of Gods and Men," which won the grand prize at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.

July 5, 2018
Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran


After a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, a seasoned Vatican diplomat who announced Pope Francis' election to the world in 2013, died Thursday at a hospital in the United States.
According to Italian newspaper Vatican Insider, Tauran, who until his July 5 death served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, had traveled to Connecticut for treatment, staying with the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Continue reading the report in Catholic News Services.
Read the condolences of Pope Francis on the Vatican news website.
Read the report on and watch the video of the funeral at Catholic News Services.

May 14, 2018
Abbot Timothy Wright OSB


From the Facebook page of Ealing Abbey, London:

We received a shock this morning when we found Abbot Timothy Wright O.S.B., emeritus of Ampleforth, had passed away in the night, probably from a heart attack. We found him when we checked at 7.30 am. After breakfast some us went in to honour his body and to pray for him. Fr Abbot decided that we will keep his place in refectory for 30 days, as if he were a monk of Ealing. That is a simply an act of respect and kindness. We shall celebrate Vespers of the dead on Wednesday evening at 18.35h.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory!
See obituary

3 gennaio 2018
P. Cipriano Carini


All’età di 81 anni, p. Cipriano Carini è passato da questa terra alla dimora del cielo. Come monaco benedettino e come abate ha per primo dato vita e forma, negli anni ’90, al gruppo italiano del Dialogo Interreligioso Monastico, animandone le attività come coordinatore per una quindicina d’anni, fino al 2010. Chi lo ha conosciuto sa con quanta dedizione e quanta passione ha lavorato per tener viva la fiamma del dialogo tra cercatori spirituali nelle diverse vie religiose, stimolando in molte occasioni i monaci cristiani a percepirne la necessità, la ricchezza e la bellezza.

26 Decembre 2017
P. Maurice Borrmans


Le père Maurice Borrmans, de la Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique (Pères Blancs), est décédé hier midi, 26 décembre 2017, à Bry-sur-Marne. Il avait 92 ans. Chercheur infatigable, travailleur acharné, professeur exigeant, homme de prière, avec lui disparaît l’une des plus grandes figures du dialogue islamo-chrétien.
Plus d'informations

1 October 2017
A Prize Winning Film onAbhishiktananda

Thirty-two years after the appearance of  Patrice Chagnard’s film Swamiji. Un voyage intérieur (1984), Fabrice Blée has come out with his film on Swami Abhishiktananda, Dawn of the Abyss, The Spiritual Birth of Swamiji (2016). The film  has been the subject of intense interest in several countries and many cities in France. At the closing ceremony of the 32nd International Catholic Film and Multimedia Festival (KSF Niepokalana)  held on October 1, 2017 at John Paul II Collection Museum of the Fondations Porczynski in Warsaw, Dawn of the Abyss  was awarded first prize in the Special Awards category.
The film deals with the awakening to the Real of the French Benedictine, Henri Le Saux, co-founder of Shantivanam, an ashram in south India. The film plunges the viewer into this monk’s experience of the Living God after his encounter with Ramana Maharshi at the foot of the sacred mountain, Arunachala. Inspired by the guru and the mountain, Fr Le Saux sets out on an interior adventure, both terrifying and captivating, that leads him to the discovery of the Grail. For more information, visit WWW.SOLARSPRODUCTIONS.COM
1er octobre 2017
Un film primé sur Abhishiktananda

Un film primé sur Abhishiktananda
Trente-deux ans après la sortie de Swamiji. Un voyage intérieur (1984) de Patrice Chagnard, voici L’Aurore du tréfonds, la naissance spirituelle de Swamiji (2016), réalisé par Fabrice Blée. Ce documentaire a déjà donné lieu à des échanges passionnants dans plusieurs pays et dans de nombreuses villes de France. Lors de la cérémonie de clôture du 32ème Festival international du film et du multimédia catholique (KSF Niepokalana) organisé le 1er octobre 2017 au Musée des Fondations Porczynski à Varsovie, L’aurore du tréfonds a reçu le premier prix dans la catégorie des prix spéciaux.
Il s’agit d’un éveil au Réel, celui du bénédictin Henri Le Saux, co-fondateur de l'ashram de Shantivanam dans le Sud de l'Inde. Le film nous plonge dans l’expérience du Dieu vivant, faite par le moine breton après sa rencontre avec Ramana Maharshi au pied du mont sacré d’Arunachala. Au cœur de la présence du sage et de la montagne, Dom Le Saux s’engage dans une aventure intérieure, à la fois périlleuse et fascinante, qui le conduira à la découverte du Graal. Visitez WWW.SOLARSPRODUCTIONS.COM
21 August 2017
Iberian Peninsula DIMMID Commission
Signs Statement Condemning Terrorist Attacks


The DIMMID Commission of the Iberian Peninsula was one of more than thirty religious and interreligious groups, federations, associations, and authorities who signed a statement firmly and unequivocally rejecting the terrorist acts that took place in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; aka as Daesh) claimed responsibility for these attacks. The statement, in Spanish, can be accessed here.

3 mai 2017
Le Maroc et le Vatican
appellent à distinguer « temporel et spirituel »

À l’issue d’une journée d’étude qui s’est tenue à Rabat le 3 mai 2017, le cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, préfet du conseil pontifical pour le dialogue interreligieux, et le secrétaire perpétuel de l’Académie du Royaume du Maroc, Abdeljalil Lahjomri, ont signé une « declaration finale » conjointe en 5 points.
April 29, 2017
Pope Francis at Al-Azhar

Pope Francis and Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb
Pope Francis and Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb

Speaking to the participants in the international peace conference at the Al-Azhar Conference Center in Cairo on April 20, during his apostolic journey to Egypt, Pope Francis said, “Precisely in the field of dialogue, particularly interreligious dialogue, we are constantly called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures. In this regard, the work of the Mixed Committee for Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue offers us a concrete and encouraging example. Three basic areas, if properly linked to one another, can assist in this dialogue: the duty to respect one’s own identity and that of othersthe courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.” Read the entire speech.

February 7, 2017
Iran’s Book of the Year World Award names winners


Abbot Timothy Wright and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali were selected for special recognition for their contribution to interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Shi'a Muslims at "The 24th World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 2017." At the closing ceremony in Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on February 7, they, along with other laureates, were honored by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
In 2003, when Abbot Timothy was abbot of Ampleforth, he and Dr. Shomali began a series of dialogues between Catholics and Iranian Shi’a Muslims. These dialogues, in which DIMMID is now formally engaged, have continued down to the present day. The next gathering is scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in September of this year.
More information on the book awards at Iran’s Book News Agency.

January 15, 2017
In Memoriam
Huston Smith (1919-2016)


Professor Huston Smith, renowned scholar of the world’s religions, died on December 30, 2016 at the age of 93. The Rev. Heng Sure, Buddhist monk, advisor to the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, and friend of Professor Smith, wrote this feature article about him for The Intefaith Observer five years ago.

December 24, 2016
Exchange of greetings among Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Hindus in Varanasi


[Mumbai, AsiaNews] An interfaith group engaged in intercommunal dialogue organized the event. Believers and leaders of various faiths celebrated the births of Muhammad, Jesus, the 10th Sikh guru, the 23rd Jain tirthankara and a Hindu harvest festival. Read more.

October 28, 2016
In Memoriam

Jean-Bernard Simon-Vermot, canon of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, long-standing member of the Swiss Sub-Commission of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, and frequent contributor to Dilatato Corde, died on October 28 at 93 years of age. A brief obituary, in French, can be found on the Saint-Maurice website.
October 12, 2016
In Memoriam

Sister Marie-Pia Martens (1928-2016), a member of the monastic community of Hurtebise in Belgium since 1954 and for many years an active member of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, died on October 12. The DIMMID Bulletin of July 1999 noted that “her work was that of a pioneer. Since 1984 she has brought her dynamism and sense of organization to this commission, making it a unified and effective body.” Read more.
September 2016
DIMMID Documentary Now on YouTube


Both the English and the French versions of the DIMMID documentary—“La Voie de l’hospitalité” / “Strangers No More”—have now been posted on YouTube. The easiest way to access them is by going to the “Video” section in the menu bar at top of this website, or by simply clicking on La Voie or Strangers.

July 14, 2016
PCID Secretary visits Al-Azhar University


(Vatican Radio) The Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, on Tuesday made a visit to the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution of learning. He was accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Archbishop Bruno Musarò.
The delegation was received by Dr. Abbas Shuman, who is the Deputy of Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyib, the Grand Imam.
A statement released by the PCID said the meeting took place in “an atmosphere of great cordiality”, and the parties discussed the need for a resumption of dialogue between the two institutions, “as called for by Pope Francis and several persons of good will.”
The statement added the parties “agreed on the importance of continuing and strengthening this dialogue for the good of humanity.”
Bishop Ayuso also delivered a letter from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in which he expressed his readiness to receive the Grand Imam and to accompany him officially in an audience with Pope Francis.
The statement also said the PCID thanked those who “helped with the success” of the visit to Al-Azhar University, and added it “hopes that it will lead to a fruitful collaboration.”
The University suspended talks with the Vatican in 2011.

May 30, 2016
L'hommage de Paris aux moines de Tibhrine
Paris Honors the Monks of Tibhirine

[English translation below]
La ville de Paris rend hommage lundi [30 mai] aux sept moines de Tibhirine enlevés puis assassinés en 1996, en inaugurant un jardin en leur mémoire. Les organisateurs entendent ainsi rendre hommage au "message d'amitié, d'ouverture et de dialogue" avec les musulmans, porté par les religieux.

Le square Saint-Ambroise, dans le 11ème arrondissement, sera rebaptisé lundi "jardin des moines de Tibhirine".
 Enlevés dans la nuit du 26 au 27 mars 1996 au monastère Notre-Dame de l'Atlas, les sept frères de l'ordre cistercien de la stricte observance avaient été déclarés morts par un communiqué du GIA, le Groupe islamique armé, le 23 mai. Les têtes des moines trappistes avaient été retrouvées le 30 mai 1996.
Située en face du square, le jardin sera inauguré par la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo, en présence de proches des moines et de représentants des différentes religions, a précisé la paroisse Saint-Ambroise. Une messe doit être célébrée auparavant dans l'église. Cliquez ici pour le discours qu'elle a prononcé à cette occasion, et ici pour l'introduction d'une exposition dans l'église offerte par le curé de la paroisse Saint Ambroise.
[cf. Article dans La Croix]

 On Monday, May 30, the city of Paris dedicated a garden in honor of the seven monks of Tibhirine who were kidnapped and then assassinated in 1996. By doing so, the organizers of the event intended to pay tribute to their “message of friendship and openness to dialogue” with Muslims.
The Square of Saint Ambrose in the 11th arrondissement will now be called the “Garden of the Monks of Tibhirine.”
Taken from their monastery in the night of March 26/27, 1996, the seven Trappist monks were pronounced dead by a communiqué of the GIA, the Armed Islamic Group, on May 23. Their severed heads were recovered on this day twenty years ago.
The garden was dedicated by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, in the presence of the families and friends of the monks and representatives of various religions. Click here for the speech she gave on that occasion, and here for the introduction to an exhibit in the church given by the pastor of Saint Ambrose Parish.

May 24, 2016
Interview with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

Vatican City, 24 May 2016 – After yesterday's audience in the Apostolic Palace, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, granted an exclusive interview to the Vatican media, in the residence of the Egyptian ambassador to the Holy See. The interview was recorded by Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre, and took place entirely in Arabic.
In the interview the Imam affirmed that his visit, the first paid to the Vatican by the highest representative of Al-Alzhar, was the result of an Al-Azhar initiative and an agreement between Al-Azhar and the Vatican to continue the holy mission of religions, which consists of “making human beings joyful everywhere”. He added that Al-Azhar has a commission for interreligious dialogue with the Vatican, which was suspended in specific circumstances, but now those circumstances no longer exist, the path of dialogue has been resumed in the hope that it will be better than before.
"I am happy to be the first Sheikh of Al-Azhar to visit the Vatican and to sit alongside the Pope in an encounter of discussion and understanding", emphasised Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, revealing that his first impression of the Holy Father was that "he is a man of peace, a man who follows the teaching of Christianity, which is a religion of love and peace, and following His Holiness we have seen that he is a man who respects other religions and shows consideration for their followers; he is man who also consecrates his life to serve the poor and the destitute, and who takes responsibility for people in general; he is an ascetic man, who has renounced the ephemeral pleasures of worldly life. All these are qualities that we share with him, and therefore we wish to encounter this man in order to work together for humanity in this vast field we have in common."
With reference to the duties of the great religious authorities and religious leaders in today’s world, he affirmed that these responsibilities are heavy and grave at the same time, "because we are aware, as we said also to His Holiness, that all the philosophies and modern social ideologies that have taken the lead of humanity, far from religion and far from heaven, have failed to make man happy or to take him far from wars and bloodshed." He remarked that the moment has arrived for the representatives of the divine religions to participate strongly and in a concrete way to give humanity a new direction, towards mercy and peace, so that humanity can avoid the great crisis we are suffering now. "Man without religion constitutes a danger to his fellow man, and I believe that people now, in the twenty-first century, have started to look around and to seek out wise guides to lead them in the right direction. All this has led us to this meeting and this discussion, and to the agreement to begin to take a step in the right direction."
He also commented on the importance of renewing scholastic texts, a task that is being carried out by the Al-Azhar University, and remarked that they are renewed in the sense of clarifying the Muslim concepts that have been distorted by those who use violence and terrorism, and by armed movements that claim to work for peace. Erroneous concepts have been identified, and have been offered as part of a curriculum to students in middle and high schools, to show them the deviant side and distorted understanding, while demonstrating to students the correct concepts, from which extremists and terrorists have deviated. Likewise, a world observatory has been established to monitor in eight languages the material disseminated by these extremist movements, and the distorted ideas that mislead youth. This material is corrected and then translated into other languages. Through the “Home of the Egyptian Family” – which reunites Muslims with all the Christian confessions in Egypt, and is a joint project between Al-Azhar and the Churches – an attempt is made to offer a response to those who seize opportunities or wait in ambush to sow disorder, divisions and conflicts between Christians and Muslims. There is also the Muslim Council of Elders, chaired by the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, and this Council sends peace delegations to the various world capitals and carries out important activity in favour of peace and to promote genuine Islam. Around a year ago, a conference was held in Florence, Italy, on the theme “East and West”, or rather “The Collaboration between East and West”. In addition, Al-Azhar receives imams from mosques in Europe, as part of a two-month programme offering formation in dialogue, exposing erroneous concepts and dealing with the integration of Muslims in European societies and nations, so that they may be a resource for the security, prosperity and strength of those countries.
With regard to the current situation in the Middle East, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyib remarked that he suffered, along with others, the consequences of the "rivers of blood and cadavers", and that "there is no logical reason for this catastrophe that we are living day and night". Certainly, he added, "there are internal and external motivations, whose convergence has inflamed these wars". He affirmed that, in the heart of Europe, he wished to make the most of his presence in this institution, so great for Catholics – the Vatican – to launch an appeal to the entire world so that it can unite and close ranks to confront and put an end to terrorism, emphasising that if terrorism is neglected, the price will be paid not only in the East; both East and West could suffer the consequences together.
Therefore his appeal to the world and to the free men of the world is to come to an agreement immediately and to intervene to put an end to these rivers of blood. He added that while terrorism exists, Islam has nothing to do with it, and this applies to Ulama Muslims and to Christians and Muslims in the East. And those who kill Muslims, and who also kill Christians, have misunderstood the texts of Islam either intentionally or by negligence.
A year ago Al-Azhar held a General Conference for Ulama Muslims, Sunni and Shiite, and invited the leaders of the Eastern Churches, of various religions and confessions; even the Yazidi sent a representative to this conference under the aegis of Al-Azhar. Among the most salient points of the joint declaration, it was said that Islam and Christianity have nothing to do with those who kill, and the West was urged not to confuse this deviant and misled group with Muslims. It was said with one voice that Muslims and Christians are the masters of this land and partners, and each one has a right to this land. Forced emigration, slavery and the trade in women in the name of Islam were rejected. The Imam reiterated that the issue must not be presented as persecution of Christians in the East, commenting that there are more Muslim than Christian victims, and we all suffer this catastrophe together. He concluded by saying that religions must not be blamed because of the distortions of some of their followers, because "in every religion there exists a deviant faction that raises the flag of religion to kill in its name".
At the end of the interview, the Imam repeated his heartfelt thanks and appreciation, and his hope that Muslims and Christians, Al-Azhar and the Vatican, may work together to raise up human beings wherever they are, regardless of their religion and belief, and to save them from destructive wars, poverty, ignorance and disease.
From the Press Office of the Holy See, Daily Bulletin of 24.05.2016
May 23, 2016
Pope in historic talks with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar


Vatican City, 23 May 2016 – At noon today, in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyib.
The Grand Imam was accompanied by a large delegation including: Professor Abbas Shouman, under-secretary of Al-Azhar; Professor Mahmaoud Hamdi Zakzouk, member of the Council of Senior Scholars of the Al-Azhar University and director of the Al-Azhar Centre for Dialogue; Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, advisor to the Grand Imam; Professor Mohie Afifi Afifi Ahmed, general secretary of the Academy for Islamic Research; the ambassador Mahmoud Abdel Gawad, diplomatic advisor to the Grand Imam; Tamer Tawfik, advisor; and Ahmad Alshourbagy, second secretary. The delegation was accompanied by the ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the Holy See, Hatem Seif Elnasr.
The Grand Imam was welcomed and accompanied to meet the Holy Father by the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the same dicastery.
The discussions, which took place in a very cordial atmosphere, lasted for around thirty minutes. The two authoritative interlocutors highlighted the great significance of this new meeting in the framework of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam. They went on to focus on the common commitment of the authorities and faithful of the great religions to peace in the world, the rejection of violence and terrorism, the situation of Christians in the context of conflict and tension in the Middle East, and their protection.
The Pope gave the Grand Imam a Medallion of the olive tree of peace, and a copy of his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si'.
Following the audience with the Holy Father, before leaving the Apostolic Palace, in another room in the Apartment of Audiences, the Grand Imam and his delegation met with Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, accompanied by Bishop Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the same dicastery, and their delegation.
The Grand Imam left the Apostolic Palace shortly after 1 p.m.
(Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office)

January 19, 2006
Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Sole non-Muslim speaker at the First Arab Thinkers Forum

Vatican City, 19 January 2016 (VIS) – “Interreligious Dialogue and Extremism: reasons and remedies” was the title of the First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi from 17 to 18 January at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The only non-Muslim speaker was Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who intervened during the first session during which the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, also gave an address. In the other sessions there were contributions from various figures from the Arab Emirates, Egypt and Morocco.
Fr. Ayuso Guixot structured his discourse around five key points: extremism, the culture of encounter, the key role of religious leaders, the need for sincere dialogue and the importance of prayer. He emphasized that it was not his intention to pursue considerations on the economic, political, social and cultural reasons for extremism, well known to those present, preferring to focus instead on Pope Francis’ recommendations to the international community on how to construct peace which can serve to counter extremism.
He began by citing the Holy Father’s address to the Diplomatic Corps on 11 January this year, in which he affirmed that “extremism and fundamentalism find fertile ground not only in the exploitation of religion for purposes of power, but also in the vacuum of ideals and the loss of identity – including religious identity – which dramatically marks the so-called West. This vacuum gives rise to the fear which leads to seeing the other as a threat and an enemy, to closed-mindedness and intransigence in defending perceived notions. Yet the greatest challenge we face is that overcoming indifference in order to work together for peace, a good which must constantly be sought, by the promotion of a ‘culture of encounter’. … Pope Francis believes that the motivation for interreligious dialogue must rest in the mutual commitment to peace and justice, thus making them the basic principles for all exchanges.”
With reference to the key role of religious leaders, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue underlined that “extremist tendencies, irrespective of their origin, are actually among the most dangerous threats to world peace and security,” and are incompatible with a truly religious ethic. Consequently, there is a need for “genuine effort by religious leaders and opinion makers to identify those persons who portray false beliefs and behaviors as part of their religious ideology.” Political leaders “must support this campaign of awareness in order to prevent extremism in society and to lay the groundwork for moderation,” he said, adding that “As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence that seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace.”
In relation to the need for sincere interreligious dialogue, the prelate underlined that believers are united in the path of life, starting from our own identify for the good of our brothers and sisters. “Every one of us offers the witness of our identity to others and engages in dialogue with others. Then dialogue can move on to theological questions. But even more important and beautiful is to walk together without betraying our own identity, without disguising it, without hypocrisy.”
Finally he recalled that “we believers have no recipe for these problems, but we have one great resource: prayer. As believers we pray. We must pray. Prayer is our treasure, which we draw from according to our respective traditions, to request the gifts for which humanity longs.”
June 1, 2015
Centre for Interreligious Studies

The Gregorian University in Rome will open a Centre for Interreligious Studies in the 2015-2016 Academic year. The purpose of the Centre is to clarify the many questions about the relationship between Christianity and Islam or between Christianity and the Religions and Cultures of Asia, in an increasingly globalized world. The comparative study helps towards a historical, philosophical, theological and political knowledge necessary to analyze interreligious relations, arguments and debates.

The students of the Centre - laity, priests, religious – are eligible to receive the Diploma in Interreligious Studies at the Gregorian (2 semesters, 60 ECTS).
More information on requirements, courses, and enrollment are given in the Centre’s brochure.

May 10, 2015
New Journal


The first issue of Spirituality Studies is now available on-line. The journal covers a wide range of theoretical and practical (living spirituality) issues relating to spirituality, including an encounter among various spiritual traditions on the personal, interpersonal, and social levels.

Published by The Society for Spirituality Studies in cooperation with Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID) and the European Union of Yoga, Spirituality Studies comes out twice a year (May 1, November 1) in English for an international readership. It is housed on the Spirituality Studies website.

March 6, 2015
Archbishop Fitzgerald on Dialogue with Islam

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt emeritus and former President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue spoke on “Grounds for Better Understanding and Dialogue with Islam” at a lecture was sponsored by  the Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) and the Institute for Policy Research at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.
A video and summary of his talk can be found on the AFJN website.

An article on the lecture by Thomas Reese appears in the March 13, 2015, on-line version of the
National Catholic Reporter.
February 2, 2015
Seasons of Celebration
Merton Exhibition at Columbia University


The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University has mounted an exhibition on the life and legacy of Thomas Merton drawn from the Library's very extensive Thomas Merton holdings. The exhibition features papers of his teacher and friend, Mark Van Doren; the extensive Merton collection that his friend Sister Thérèse Lentfoehr kept for him, including the massive typescript manuscript of The Seven Storey Mountain; the papers and photographic archive of his friend and official biographer, John Howard Griffin, and the Alpa camera "loaned" to Merton by Griffin; the papers of his friend, Robert Lax; and gifts from Robert Giroux, Robert Shepherd, and others. (More information at the event website of Columbia University.)
An article on the exhibition by Patricia Lefevere appears in the March 15, 2015, issue of the National Catholic Reporter.

January 21, 2015
nter-Christian collaboration in view of interreligious dialogue

Vatican City, 21 January 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday the annual meeting took place between the officials of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCDI) and the staff of the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The event enabled information to be exchanged regarding activities carried out during 2014.

The meeting also offered the opportunity to reflect on future partnerships between the two institutions, which have collaborated for some years now, in order to exchange information and with a view to joint initiatives for the examination of various issues.

The most recent initiatives include the presentation, in 2011, of the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct”, by the PCDI, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance.

November 28, 2014
Pope Francis in Turkey
Pursuing a dialogue of friendship, esteem and respect



 In his meeting with the President, Prime Minister and civil authorities of Turkey on November 28, 2014, the first day of his apostolic journey to Turkey, Pope Francis spoke of the need for dialogue that “can deepen the understanding and appreciation of the many things which we hold in common . . . [and] allow us to reflect sensibly and serenely on our differences, and to learn from them, . . . [overcoming] prejudices and unwarranted fears, leaving room for respect, encounter, and the release of more positive energies for the good of all.
“To this end, it is essential that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – both in the provision and practice of the law, enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties. They will then find it easier to see each other as brothers and sisters who are travelling the same path, seeking always to reject misunderstandings while promoting cooperation and concord. . . .”
Read the entire speech on the Vatican website.


During his return trip to Rome, Pope Francis held a press conference in which he spoke on the important of the dialogue of spiritual experience: " . . . on interreligious dialogue: I had what was probably the most wonderful conversation about this with the President for Religious Affairs and his team. When the new Turkish Ambassador to the Holy See came to deliver his Letters of Credence, over a month and a half ago, I saw an exceptional man before me, a man of profound piety. The President of that office was of the same school. They said something beautiful: They said: “Right now it seems like interreligious dialogue has come to an end. We need to take a qualitative leap, so that interreligious dialogue is not merely: 'What do you think about this?' 'We....' We need to take this qualitative leap, we need to bring about a dialogue between religious figures of different faiths”.  This is a beautiful thing: men and women who meet other men and women and share experiences.  We are not just talking about theology but religious experience. And this would be a beautiful step forward, beautiful. I really enjoyed that meeting. It was excellent.”
Read the whole interview on the Vatican website .


November 14, 2014
Thich Nhat Hanh Hospitalized


The website of Plum Village reports that on the “11th of November 2014 Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, experienced a severe brain hemorrhage. Thay is receiving 24 hour intensive care from specialist doctors, nurses and from his monastic disciples.” Up to date information on the condition of Thich Nhat Hanh will be posted officially at www.plumvillage.org, langmai.org, villagedespruniers.org, and www.facebook.com/thichnhathanh.

October 13, 2014
Muslim Defending Persecuted Christians


On September 1, 2014, Shaykh Yahya Pallavicini, Italian Ambassador of the Covenants Initiative, an international movement of Muslims to defend persecuted Christians based in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Lexington Kentucky, presented a copy of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World to Pope Francis. The book, by Dr. John Andrew Morrow, a professor, author, and research scholar, contains the texts of six treaties between Muhammad and Christian communities of his time; they command Muslims not to attack or rob peaceful Christians, but rather defend them “until the end of the world.”  Many Muslim scholars consider these covenants, authored by the Prophet himself, to be legally binding upon Muslims today. Shaykh Pallavicini described Francis as “very touched by my words of solidarity for the Christians in the Middle East.” Dr. Morrow’s book was reviewed in Dilatato Corde, Vol. IV, No. 1.


October 9, 2014
New Program in Catholic Muslim Relations

The School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America has announced the launch of a new certificate, the Certificate in Christian-Muslim Relations. This Certificate aims to introduce and educate Christians and Muslims about the need and importance of inter-religious dialogue.  The Certificate of Christian-Muslim Relations has various learning objectives. These objectives include:

educating students about Catholic and Muslim traditions in light of Christian-Muslim relations (past and present).
applying theological and social scientific approaches to religion in the American context  through the Catholic intellectual tradition.
 implementing knowledge and methodological awareness by completion of a final project.
 The Certificate in Christian-Muslim Relations is open to applicants with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and sufficient knowledge of Christian Theology; requires students to complete 12 credit hours online (4 classes) and a final project related to Christian-Muslim Relations. The program launches in Spring 2015.
 If you have any questions or comments about the program please contact Dr. Charles Jones (Academic Area Director) jonesc@cua.edu or Dr. Pim Valkenberg (Program Coordinator) Valkenberg@cua.edu.
September 21, 2014
Interreligious meeting in Tirana: “God's name must not be used to commit violence”

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with representatives of Albania’s Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” in Tirana, September 21, 2014.
Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with representatives of Albania’s Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” in Tirana, September 21, 2014.

Vatican City, 21 September 2014 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. yesterday, after lunch in the apostolic nunciature with the Albanian bishops, Pope Francis proceeded to the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” – instituted in 2004 and administrated by a foundation linked to the Religious Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception of Tirana – to meet with the heads of other religions and Christian denominations.

The event was attended by representatives of the six largest religious communities in the country: Muslim, Bektashi (an Islamic Sufi order), Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and Jewish. The Pope expressed his joy at meeting with them as their presence together was a sign of dialogue and collaboration for the good of society as a whole.

Pope Francis began his discourse by remarking that Albania had sadly “witnessed the violence and tragedy that can be caused by a forced exclusion of God from personal and communal life”. He continued, “When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated. You know well how much pain comes from the denial of freedom of conscience and of religious freedom, and how from such a wound comes a humanity that is impoverished because it lacks hope and ideals”.

However, the changes that have taken place since the 1990s have had, as a positive effect, the creation of the conditions for authentic religious freedom, making it possible for communities “to renew traditions that were never really extinguished, despite fierce persecution”. This religious freedom has enabled everyone to offer, according to his or her own religious convictions, “a positive contribution to the moral, and subsequently the economic, reconstruction of the country”.

However, he added, quoting the words of St. John Paul II, “True religious freedom shuns the temptation to intolerance and sectarianism, and promotes attitudes of respect and constructive dialogue. We cannot deny that intolerance towards those with different religious convictions is a particularly insidious enemy, one which today is being witnessed in various areas around the world. All believers must be particularly vigilant so that, in living out with conviction our religious and ethical code, we may always express the mystery we intend to honour. This means that all those forms which present a distorted use of religion, must be firmly refuted as false since they are unworthy of God or humanity. Authentic religion is a source of peace and not of violence. No one must use the name of God to commit violence. To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman”.

“From this point of view, religious freedom is not a right which can be guaranteed solely by existing legislation, although laws are necessary”, he remarked. “Rather, religious freedom is a shared space, an atmosphere of respect and cooperation that must be built with the participation of all, even those who have no religious convictions”. He went on to outline two attitudes that may be especially useful in promoting this fundamental freedom.

“The first is that of regarding every man and woman, even those of different religious traditions, not as rivals, less still enemies, but rather as brothers and sisters. When a person is secure in his or her own beliefs, there is no need to impose or put pressure on others: there is a conviction that truth has its own power of attraction. … Each religious tradition, from within, must be able to take account of the existence of others”.

The second is “commitment to the common good. Whenever belonging to a specific religious tradition gives rise to service with conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there too exists an authentic and mature development of religious freedom, which appears not only as a space in which to legitimately defend one’s autonomy, but also as a potential that enriches the human family as it advances”.

“Let us look around us: there are so many poor and needy people, so many societies that try to find a more inclusive way of social justice and path of economic development!” exclaimed the Holy Father. “How great is the need for the human heart to be firmly fixed on the deepest meaning of experiences in life and rooted in a rediscovery of hope! Men and women, inspired in these areas by the values of their respective religious traditions, can offer an important, and even unique, contribution. This is truly a fertile land offering much fruit, also in the field of interreligious dialogue”.

“But I would also like to mention an ever-present spectre, that of relativism: “it is all relative”. In this respect, we must keep a basic principle clear in our minds: it is not possible to enter into dialogue other than from the standpoint of one's own identity. Without identity dialogue cannot exist. It would be the spectre of a dialogue, a dialogue on air: without purpose. Each one of us has his or her own religious identity and is faithful to it. But the Lord knows how to lead history on. Each one of us starts from his or her own identity, without pretending to have another, because it is not useful ... and this is relativism. What we have in common is the path of life, and the good will to start out from one's own identity for the good of our brothers and sisters. Each one of us offers the witness of his or her own identity to the other, and dialogues with the other. After this, dialogue may proceed on theological questions, but the most important and most beautiful thing is to walk together without betraying one's own identity, without masking it, without hypocrisy”.

Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging religious leaders to maintain and develop “the tradition of good relations among the various religious communities in Albania, and to be united in serving your beloved homeland. With a touch of humour, it may be said that this is like a football team: Catholics 'in competition' alongside all the others but all united together for the good of the country and for humanity. Continue to be a sign, for your country and beyond, that good relations and fruitful cooperation are truly possible among men and women of different religions”.

September 3, 2014
Declaration from the PCID on "the reinstatement of the Caliphate"


The Vatican Information Service today reported that
the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a declaration on “the reinstatement of the Caliphate”, which was abolished in 1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, affirming that opposition to this “reinstatement” by the majority of Muslim religious and political institutions has not prevented the jihadists of the “Muslim State” from committing unspeakable criminal acts that this dicastery, like all those involved in interreligious dialogue, the followers of all religions and all men and women of goodwill can only denounce and condemn. It emphasised that “Christians and Muslims have been able to live alongside one another – certainly with highs and lows – for centuries, building a culture of co-existence and a civilisation of which they are proud,”

August 21, 2014
The Grand Ayatollah Makarem’s message to Pope Francis


The office of the Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, the highest cleric of Shi’a Islam, issued the text of his message to Pope Francis regarding ISIL and the Takfiri Terrorists.

In the Name of Allah (SWT)
Your Excellency, Pope Francis the Leader of the Catholics of the world
With Greetings

Recently some Vatican officials asked the Islamic scholars to express their opinions regarding the barbaric attacks by Takfiri Da’esh group (self-proclaimed IS terrorist sect) against the Christians and other religious minorities in northern Iraq. Your Excellency also sent a message to the Secretary General of the United Nations and asked him to use all his powers to prevent the violence against the Christians and religious minorities. I welcome your suggestion and also consider as necessary the cooperation between the religious leaders of the world and strongly condemn these barbaric attacks whilst asking the Muslims of the world to condemn these inhumane crimes and wish to put forward 2 points in this regard.
The Takfiri groups today are the biggest danger to humanity, irrespective of their religion and nationalities. I have been warning this for many years. In my meeting with the respected Head of the Vatican Papal Council 3 years ago, I pointed to the danger of the Takfiri groups and told him: It is not a week that in my talks I condemn these extremists, the actions of these minority extremists have nothing to do with Islam. As stressed in the holy Quran, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) is mercy for all the human beings of the world. But unfortunately many of the political and religious leaders of the world not only stayed silent but actively supported them. If it was not for the financial and military supports of some countries of the region, Da’esh (IS) and other similar groups could not have survived and continue with the widespread killings and crimes.
I also expect Vatican’s position in your time to be expressed in more defined and transparent manner regarding the oppressions and catastrophes carried out in different names, be it against Christian minorities in Islamic countries or Islamic minorities in the western countries and similar cases. I ask the Almighty success for you and your colleagues.

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

Statement of the Shi'ite Council of Religious Endowment in Iraq

At its first conference, held on August 16, 2014, the Council emphasized that “the Iraqi nation is united against the terrorists and that the ISIL and its conduct is rejected by all religions and sects and ethnic groups of Iraq.” It issued the following statement:
“The Shi'ite Council of Religious Endowment in Iraq has held the 1st conference of the Iraqi scholars and religious figures under the motto "Resisting terrorism and protecting sacred sites are our religious and national duty" and with the attendance of the representatives of all religions and sects in Iraq, on Sat. 16.8.2014.
“In his opening words, Shaykh Salih Haydari the chairman of the Shi'ite council of religious endowment in Iraq emphasized that the Iraqi nation is united against the terrorists and that the ISIL and its conduct is rejected by all religions and sects and ethnic groups of Iraq. Rather, they are enemies of all religions including Islam. Also, Mr. Ali Allaq the Muslim member of the Iraqi National Assembly pointed out in his speech that Islam has nothing to do with the ISIL acts because Islam is the religion of merci for all mankind and not only Muslims, adding that the ISIL came into existence to defame the image of religion in general.
“In another part of the conference, Yonadam Kanna who represents the Iraqi Assyrian Christians in the Iraqi National Assembly called for a banning on any religious addressing which provokes violence and killing, referring to the fact that some speakers from different religions resort to this kind of speech out of ignorance or because of their relation to terrorist organizations. Also, he praised the stance of the shi'ite religious authority of Iraq and its role in protecting different religious minorities of Iraq.”


August 1, 2014
DIMMID Granted Special Consultative Status at the United Nations

Official notification was recently received that the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to grant special consultative status to Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique∙Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Consultative status for an organization enables it to actively engage with ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in various ways. Information about the privileges that consultative status with ECOSOC confers on an organization, as well as the obligations that the organization will be required to meet under this relationship, are outlined in the letter informing DIMMID of the decision.
May 30, 2014
Shia scholars translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Persian

Qom (AsiaNews) - Shia scholars have translated the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Persian. A group of translators from the University of Religions and Denominations (URD), located just outside of Qom, is behind this major step towards dialogue.
Under the guidance of Prof Ahmad Reza Meftah (pictured, centre), the translators (Profs Sulemaniye and Ghanbari) completed the work (almost 1,000 pages about theology and pastoral ministry) that is going to be released shortly. Read more . .  .
May 18, 2014
Fifty Years of Promoting Interreligious Dialogue

Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation on Monday 19 May. The dicastery was instituted with the name “Secretariat for non-Christians” on 19 May 1964 by Pope Paul VI, with the Apostolic Letter “Progrediente Concilio”, with the aim of paying attention to those who were without the Christian religion and to whom the words of the Lord would seem to refer: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also”.
The Pontifical Council will hold a conference in the afternoon on the theme “50 years of service in interreligious dialogue”; the speakers will be Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the dicastery, Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary, and Fr. Damian Howard, S.J., of Heythrop College, London. The document “Dialogue in Truth and Charity: Pastoral Orientations for Interreligious Dialogue”, which will be published and distributed to those present, offers guidelines for pastors and faithful, based on the concrete indications and experiences of the local churches, to continue along the path of interreligious dialogue.
To mark the occasion, Pope Francis sent a message to Cardinal Tauran.
March 18, 2014
DIMMID Secretary General Appointed PCID Consultor


Pope Francis has appointed William Skudlarek, Secretary General of DIMMID, to a five year terms as Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Father Skudlarek, a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, USA, is presently at Trinity Benedictine Monastery in Fujimi, Japan, a priory of Saint John’s Abbey.

February 24, 2014
Russian Translation of Guru and Disciple


Dr. Maxim Demchenko, Associate Professor of the History and Phenomenology of Religion at the Russian Orthodox University, Moscow, recently published the Russian translation of Sri Swami Abhishiktananda's Guru and Disciple (Moscow: Ganga, 2013). This is the first translation of Swamiji's works into Russian language. It contains the original French text as well as a foreword by Swami Atmananda Udasin, Director of the Abhishiktananda Center for Interreligious Dialogue (New Delhi) and an introduction by His Holiness Sri Swami Nityananda Giri. It is also provided with detailed translator's footnotes, afterword, and glossary. On the book's cover  is a reproduction of the painting “Mauna Mountain” (Arunachala) by the Ukrainian artist Albert Zakharov (Lvov). The Russian audience warmly welcomed the new title and is waiting for the next work of Swami Abhishiktananda, The Further Shore, the release of which is planned for next year. A brief bio of Dr. Demchenko can be found on the Editorial Board page of the Abhishiktananda website.

February 4, 2014
Brother David-Steindl Rast to Address Wisdom 2.0 Conference

Br David Steindl-Rast, a monk of Mount Saviour Monastery in Pine City, New York, has been invited to address the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which begins  in San Francisco on February 8.
Br David, 87, was born in Vienna, studied Zen in the 1960s, and has long been involved in dialogue with Buddhism.  At present, Brother David serves a worldwide Network for Grateful Living, through Gratefulness.org,  an interactive website with several thousand participants daily from more than 240 countries.  He is due to speak on gratitude in the digital age and will contribute to a panel on compassionate society.
Wisdom 2.0 describes its mission as addressing the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.
December 19, 2013
Jean-Marc Aveline Named Auxiliary Bishop of Marseilles

Father Jean-Marc Aveline, founder and director of the Institut de sciences e des religions (ISTR) in Marseille and founder and chief editor of the magazine Chemins de dialogue has been appointed auxiliary bishop of the archidiocese of Marseilles. Father Aveline served as consultor for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has often been involved in the activities of Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique in France and in October spoke on ““Condition actuelle de la production de l’intelligence de la foi dans les monastères” at the annual meeting of the European coordinators of the European commissions of DIMMID.
November 19, 2013
Cardinal Tauran at Kaiciid: Religions Must Avoid Engendering a Spirit of Superiority or Exclusion


Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis   Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave   an address at today's inaugural session of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz   Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID). The centre   is an independent organisation based in Vienna and founded by Saudi Arabia,   Austria and Spain, to which the Holy See adheres in the role of Founding   Observer.

The Conference, which ends today, is intended to raise   awareness among younger generations to enable them to have an objective,   honest and accurate image of one another. From this perspective, three   related themes will be considered over the next three years. In 2013, the   theme “The Image of the Other” focuses on education, with the presence in   Vienna of a number of education ministers from all over the world; next   year's forum will be dedicated to means of communication and finally, in   2015, the Internet will be the focus of attention.

The cardinal, in his English-language presentation,   underlines that “interreligious dialogue teaches us to be careful not to   present the religion of the other in a bad light in schools, universities,   the mass media and, in particular, in religious discourse; not to demean the   religious convictions of others, especially when they are not present; and to   consider diversity – ethical, cultural, vision of the world – as a richness,   not as a threat”.

He continued, “What is at the centre of our concern is the   human person, man and woman. The human person is the object of the attention   of political and religious leaders. Each one of us is a citizen and a   believer. All of us belong to the same human family. It means that we share   the same dignity, we are confronted by the same problems, we enjoy the same   rights and we are called to accomplish the same duties”.

He concluded by repeating that one of the tasks of the   KAICIID must be the promotion of “'the intelligence of the heart', which   inspires us to respect what God is accomplishing in every human being and at   the same time to respect the mystery that every human person represents. What   we have to avoid absolutely is that religions engender fear, attitudes of   exclusion of or superiority in people”. The Centre may therefore “become a   place where we can … better know each other and share all our abilities in   order to make this world more secure and enlightened, with all its   inhabitants living in a spirit of respect and friendship”.

November 12, 2013
Interreligious Dialogue in the Teaching of the Catholic Church

Vatican City, 12 November 2013 (VIS) – A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office this morning to present the book “Il Dialogo Interreligioso nell'Insegnamento Ufficiale della Chiesa Cattolica (1963-2013)” (“Interreligious Dialogue in the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church, (1963-2013)”). The speakers in the conference were Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary of the same dicastery, along with Bishop Francesco Gioia, O.F.M. Cap., editor of the work.

The aim of this third edition, which covers the papal magisterium from the Vatican Council II until Benedict XVI, is to present directly to both Catholics and followers of other religions the official thought of the Church, following the spirit of “Nostra Aetate”, which encourages the faithful, “through dialogue and collaboration with the members of other religions, and bearing witness to Christian faith and life, to recognise, safeguard and promote those spiritual and moral goods, as well as the socio-cultural values they embody”. (For the full press release, click on the headline)


October 24, 2013
New President of the North American DIMMID

At its annual meeting, held October 11-14, the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue elected Father Michael Peterson as President and Chair of its Board of Directors.
Father Michael has been a Benedictine monk for seventeen years at Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota and Saint John's Abbey, joining the monks in Collegeville, Minnesota, in 2012. He is a graduate of the School of Theology/Seminary at Saint John’s University with an emphasis in Monastic Studies. He currently serves as the abbey's assistant oblate director, retreat director, organist, and sacramental minister for the College of Saint Benedict.
The outgoing president, Brother Gregory Perron of Saint Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, will soon begin doctoral studies in comparative mysticism. 
May 15, 2013
100th Birthday of Bernard de Give OCSO

May 15, 2013
100th Birthday of Bernard de Give OCSO
Father Bernard De Give, monk of the Trappist Abbey of Scourmont (Belgium) and one of the pioneers of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, celebrated his 100th birthday on May 15, 2013. His book, A Trappist Meeting Monks from Tibet, was reviewed by Brother Gregory Perron in the first issue of Dilatato Corde.
March 13, 2013
Sister Mary L. O'Hara

Word was received recently of the death of Sister Mary L. O’Hara CSJ, an emerita professor of philosophy at the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sister Mary participated in the 1977 meeting in Petersham, Massachusetts, that laid the groundwork for the formation of the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Her reports on the Petersham meeting and an article she wrote on Jain nuns were published in the MID Bulletin. Her obituary is also on-line.
March 1, 2013
The Papacy—Past and Future—and Interreligious Dialogue


The current newsletter of the of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions has an article by the Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, of the Catholic Theological Union entitled “Catholics and Interreligious Relations: Challenges Facing a New Pope” and another by the Rev. Leo Lefebure of Georgetown University entitled “Realizing Pope Benedict XVI's Interfaith Legacy.” Read more.
November 21, 2012
Catholic and Muslim Cooperation in Promoting Justice


Vatican City, 21 November 2012 (VIS) - "Catholic and Muslim Cooperation in promoting justice in the contemporary world" was the theme of the eighth Colloquium of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation (ICRO). The meeting was held in Rome from 19 to 21 November under the joint presidency of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and of Mohammad Bagher Korramshad, president of the ICRO.

A communique released today explains how the theme was divided into four subheadings "from the point of view of Catholics and of Shi'i Muslims: (1) The concept of justice; (2) Justice for the human person; (3) Justice for the different constituents of society, and (4) Justice for the entire human family. The English-language communique goes on: "Both sides expressed their awareness of and concern for current challenges, including the economic crisis, the environmental issue, the weakening of the family as a basic institution of society and threats to world peace. The participants, recognising both areas of commonality and difference, focused on common ground and shared values:

"1. The belief we share in the One God Who created all things gives each of us a holistic understanding of justice. The various spheres of its application are inter-related: personal, communitarian, social, political, economic, cultural and judicial.

"2. Justice as a virtue based on human dignity requires the right exercise of reason and the illumination of God. Recognition of, and respect for, freedom of conscience, inter alia, are conditions of justice in our societies.

"3. The dynamic nature of the concept of justice allows it to be adapted to meet the new challenges of the contemporary world.

"4. The responsibility of religious leaders, institutions and, indeed, every believer to denounce injustice and oppression in all their forms and to promote justice all around the world. We believe that our religions possess resources which can inspire people to work to make justice and peace a reality.

"5. The demand that, for the sake of the promotion of justice in today’s world, Muslims and Christians continue to deepen their understanding of one another through ongoing dialogue and cooperation.

"6. The need to take the fruits of our meeting and communicate them to the people of our respective communities and societies so that they can have a real effect in the world.

"The participants were pleased and honoured to be received at the end of the meeting by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who greeted and encouraged them to continue on the path of an authentic and fruitful dialogue. The next Colloquium, preceded by a preparatory meeting,will take place in Tehran, Iran, in two years".

October 20, 2012
Buidling Communities of Friendship with Shi'a Muslims

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali and Abbot Timothy Wright
Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali and Abbot Timothy Wright

From September 28 to October 3, 2012, nine Benedictine and Cistercian monks and nuns were in Iran to reflect with Shi‘a Muslims on friendship as scriptural theme, spiritual practice, and condition of dialogue. A report on the meeting can be found in the
current issue of Dilatato Corde. Additional photos can be found in the photo album. The meeting ws the fifth in a series of Christian/Muslim dialogues initiated in 2003 by Abbot Timothy Wright and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali.
August 19, 2012
Please pray for Sister Bénédicte and her sisters

Sister Bénédicte Vanhoomissen
Sister Bénédicte Vanhoomissen

Sister Bénédicte Vanhoomissen OSB, the coordinator of the DIMMID commission for Holland and Flemmish-speaking Belgium, and two other sisters of the Benedictine monastery in Loppem, Belgium, remain in critical condition as a result of having eaten poisonous mushrooms. The following message was sent by the Prioress of Loppem on Saturday evening, August 18. An English translation follows.

Chers tous et toutes,
vos signes de communion nous touchent profondément … l’épreuve continue, mais nous gardons l’espérance et restons en paix en nous confiant à Celui qui tient nos vies!
Commençons par les bonnes nouvelles: Sœur Ria va mieux et pourra, très probablement quitter l’hôpital mardi.
Sœur Isabel et Sœur Bénédicte sont dans un état très critique à l’hôpital universitaire de Louvain … une lésion importante au foie pour toutes les deux … le combat pour la vie n’est pas encore gagné même si la situation reste stable et donc … ne s’empire pas … mais, les médecins ne nous épargnent pas … leur état est critique et le mot ‘greffe’ est déjà prononcé …
Sœur Laurentia est aussi très fort atteinte, mais elle n’est pas à Louvain … par contre, elle reste aux soins intensives ici à Bruges et son état est aussi inquiétant que celui des deux sœurs à Louvain … nous nous partageons pour les visites et les tâches à la maison … nous continuons à tenir l’office … c’est notre manière de tenir en LUI.
Nous vous tenons au courant et nous sommes très reconnaissantes de votre soutien et surtout de vos prières,
—Sœur Hannah et le petit reste de Béthanie qui est à la maison (plus qu’un tiers de la communauté est hospitalisée puisque nous sommes 11 et 4 sont à l’hôpital).

Dear all,
Your expressions of communion touch us deeply ... the trial has not ended, but we continue to hope and to be at peace, trusting in Him who sustains our lives!
First, the good news: Sister Ria is better and will most likely leave the hospital on Tuesday.
Sister Bénédicte and Sister Isabel are in a very critical condition at the University Hospital of Leuven ... a significant injury to the liver for both ... their fight for life is not yet won even if the situation remains stable ... i.e., does not worsen ... but doctors are very direct with us ... their condition is critical and the word “transplant” is already being mentioned...
The condition of Sister Laurentia is also very serious, but she is not in Leuven ... rather, she remains in intensive care here in Bruges and her situation is as worrying as that that of the two sisters in Leuven ... we take turns visiting them and attending to the tasks that need to be done at home ... we continue to pray the office ... this is our way to remain in HIM.
We will keep you informed and we are very grateful for your support and especially your prayers.
—Sister Hannah [the Prioress] and the remnant of Bethany who are at home (more than a third of the community is hospitalized—we are eleven and four are in the hospital).

July 2, 2012
New PCID Secretary

The Holy See Press Office today reported that Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot M.C.C.J., president of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome, as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He succeeds Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, who held that position since November 2002. Three weeks earlier Father Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage was appointed Undersecretary, succeeding Monsignor Andrew Vissanu Thanya-Anan, who held that position since 2008. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran continues as President of the PCID.
       Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot is a member of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. He was born in Seville on June 17, 1952, made his solemn profession of vows in 1980, and was ordained in 1982. He served as a missionary in Egypt and the Sudan until 2002.
       He has a licentiate degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the University of Granada in Spain. He was professor of Islamic studies in Khartoum and Cairo.
       Father Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage was teaching at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome when his appointment was announced. He is from the Biocese of Badulla (suffragan of Colombo) and authored a book in 2007 on Christian-Buddhist relations in his native country. As journalist Robert Mickens noted in his “Letter from Rome” (The Tablet, 16 June 2012), “It might well be the longest name ever to be posted on a Vatican office door.”
June 18, 2012
Paolo Dall"Oglio SJ Expelled from Syria

Syria has expelled the Rev. Paolo Dall'Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest for his outspoken criticism of the government's crackdown on a popular uprising.  Father Dall'Oglio has lived in Syria for 30 years, helping to restore a 1,000-year-old monastery that became a center for Muslim and Christian understanding. He was interviewed by National Public Radio shortly before leaving the country.

May 25, 2012

© Office of the Secretary to the Governor General Canada (2012)
© Office of the Secretary to the Governor General Canada (2012)

Ottawa. On May 25, along with 44 other recipients, Laurence Freeman received one of the highest honours in Canada from the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at Government House. The Order of Canada recognizes recipients for a lifetime of outstanding achievement dedicated to the community and service to the nation. Membership is accorded to those who exemplify the Order’s Latin motto: desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning, “they desire a better country”, a phrase taken from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 11:16. A video of the investiture ceremony can be found on YouTube.

 The Order of Canada’s award of merit states: “Laurence Freeman is an internationally recognized spiritual leader and proponent of peace and interfaith dialogue and understanding. Founder and director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, he regularly circles the globe to introduce meditation as a means of inner transformation and connection between peoples and religions. He works at all levels of society, engaging world leaders as well as the poor, and the organization has expanded to more than 100 countries. A committed advocate of non-violence, he co-founded the Way of Peace gatherings, which bring together Buddhists and Christians, as well as those who have been on the violent ends of religious divides. In addition he is a respected speaker, author and theologian”.

The Christian Meditation community of 44 weekly groups in the greater Ottawa area, and other Canadian meditators, celebrated the Order of Canada event with a party for Fr. Laurence, the evening of May 24th at St Bart’s Anglican Church. St Bart’s, with its own Christian Meditation group, was founded as a parish in 1868 across the street from the residence of the Governor General.

The party, organized by the Ottawa Christian Meditation coordinating committee, embraced an enthusiastic reception for the Order of Canada recipient from over 100 participants, followed by a talk by Dr. Balfour Mount, known as the “father of the palliative care movement” in Canada, and a response of thanks from Laurence Freeman. In his talk Dr. Mount stressed the remarkable energy and love demonstrated by Laurence Freeman in sharing the teaching of John Main in his travels around the world and his gifts in the area of inter-religious dialogue and meditation outreach to the secular world.                                                                                                                                                                

Born in England in 1951, Laurence Freeman was educated by the Benedictines and took a masters degree in English at New College, Oxford. After work experience at the United Nations, and in banking and journalism, he joined Ealing Benedictine Abbey in London in 1975.

In 1977 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Montreal, he joined fellow Benedictine, John Main in establishing a Benedictine community of monks and lay people in Montreal dedicated to the practice of Christian Meditation/ Contemplative Prayer. While in Montreal he studied theology at the University of Montreal and McGill University, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980.

After John Main’s death in 1982, he succeeded him as Prior of the Montreal community and continued the work of teaching meditation that has rapidly grown into a community of meditators world wide .In 1992 Laurence Freeman returned to England to establish the International Centre of the newly formed World Community for Christian Meditation, which now is active with over 2000 groups in 114 countries. He is also a founder and director of the John Main Center for Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Georgetown University in Washington, editor of John Main’s teaching, and a member of Medio-Media, the publishing arm of the World Community for Christian Meditation. His published books include. Light Within, Selfless Self, Web of Silence, Common Ground, Short Span of Days, Your Daily Practice, The Pearl of Great Price, Jesus The Teacher Within, and most recently “First Sight: The Experience of Faith”.

As a world traveler Laurence Freeman has conducted dialogue and peace initiatives such as the three year historic Way of Peace program with the Dalai Lama, and is involved in inter-religious dialogue with other faiths. In addition he is active in encouraging the teaching of Christian Meditation to children, students and young people in the renewal of the contemplative tradition in the Church and society at large. Each Easter on Bere Island, in West Cork, off the west coast of Ireland, he conducts a meditation retreat for young people.

He has been a patron since 1990 of the Prison Phoenix Trust, which seeks to support people in prison, through the daily practice of meditation. In addition he actively promotes the practice of meditation as a way of addressing the 11th step of the 12 step AA program.

His current emphasis is on a secular outreach through the World Community Meditatio Program which was established to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the WCCM. This initiative comprises a series of Meditation Seminars covering meditation and Children, Meditation and Mental Health, Meditation and Recovery, Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue, and the spiritual aspect of Business and Finance. Additional emphasis is given to the networking of young meditators in the global community and the development of web-based technology to spread a contemplative message.

In accepting the Order of Canada, Laurence Freeman agrees with the founder of L’Arche for the mentally challenged, Jean Vanier, who has stated his reason for accepting the honour of the Order of Canada. Vanier has pointed out: “it was not just awarded to me, but is a sign of the value of people with disabilities, who for too long have been pushed aside or hidden away in institutions or their families”.

Laurence Freeman also accepts that it is not so much a personal honour but a recognition of the worldwide hunger for a spiritual renewal in contemplative prayer, the need for meditation practice in the current world of chaos, noise and violence, and the recognition that each person is created for a unique destiny and a unique fulfillment in God. All of these are core goals of the World Community for Christian Meditation. He has said since receiving the honour that it reflects powerfully on Canada's breadth of vision and wisdom to recognize the spiritual dimension of the global issues of our time. 

May 1, 2012
2012 Summer School in Interreligious Dialogue


The Faculty of Philosophy of the Università Pontificia Salesiana in cooperation with ASUS (Accademia Scienze Umane e Sociali) announces a Summer School 2012 to explore the promotion of dialogue and the development of a culture of peace within the Church and between religions. The Summer School will be held in Rome July 2-14 and will prepare participants to engage in inter-religious dialogue. More information at Events.

March 26, 2012
Sister Gilkrist Lavigne Elected Prioress


Sister Gilkrist Lavigne OSCO, founder and president of the Scandanavian Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, was elected prioress of Tautra Mariakloster, a community of Trappistine nuns on the island of Tautra in central Norway. The monastery's website mentions that Sister Gilkrist "has been involved in interreligious dialogue for many years." In fact, she was a participant in the 1977 A.I.M.-sponsored meeting in Petersham, Massachusetts, that was the first step in the foundation of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue as a secretariat of the Benedictine Confederation.

January 25, 2012
Working for Peace between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria


January 25, 2012
Religions for Peace has provided the following update on the situation in Nigeria: 

Dear Esteemed Colleagues: 

Christians and Muslims are uniting in Nigeria to reject the violence advanced by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Last Friday (30 January 2012), this violent group killed at least 184 people and raised the specter of an escalating spiral of violence. Yesterday, police found large numbers of explosives, including ten cars packed with explosives, linked to the group. It is the shared view of many Nigerian Muslims and Christians that Boko Haram grossly distorts the Islamic religion by claiming it as a justification for its violent terrorism.  

When terror is intentionally being used to foment fear, mistrust and hostility between religious groups, we are all especially in need of principled multi-religious leadership. 

In that light, I am pleased to share that His Grace John Onaiyekan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, and a Religions for Peace International Co-President and Co-Moderator of Religions for Peace Africa, has joined with his Nigerian Muslim colleagues, to advance a united front of Muslims and Christians demanding the rejection of violence. 

This is the kind of courageous leadership we all need. Religions for Peace is proud of our Nigeria Muslim and Christian colleagues who are working together against the tide of terrorism to advance peace. 

You would, I felt, appreciate Archbishop John’s note and recent speeches as an example of the wise and courageous leadership needed. I will also be sharing the speeches of our wonderful Islamic partners as these become available.   

In solidarity for peace, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Dr. William F. Vendley
Secretary General

Enclosures:  Archbishop Onaiyekan's note to Dr. Vendley (shared with permission); speech; and opening remarks.

December 30, 2011


Calling the October 27th gathering in Assisi one of the “top-ten undercovered Vatican stories,” National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen wrote, “Benedict's choice to mark the 25th anniversary of John Paul's historic event with an interreligious summit of his own was arguably just as important as the original because of what it symbolizes: That convening the religious leaders of the world on behalf of peace was not simply a personal whim of John Paul II. Instead, it's become part of the job description of the papacy, something future popes will be expected to repeat.”

October 7, 2011


In his October 7th address to the Catholic Bishops of Indonesia on their ad limina visit, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of interreligious dialogue as a way to “bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman, and child, regardless of their faith.

"I can only encourage you in your continuing efforts to promote and sustain interreligious dialogue in your nation. Your country, so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions. Thus, the people of Indonesia are well-placed to make important contributions to the quest for peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. Your participation in this great enterprise is decisive, and so I urge you, dear brothers, to ensure that those whom you shepherd know that they, as Christians, are to be agents of peace, perseverance and charity. The Church is called to follow her Divine Master, who unites all things in himself, and to witness to that peace which only he can give. This is the precious fruit of charity in him who, suffering unjustly, gave us his life and taught us to respond in all situations with forgiveness, mercy and love in truth. Believers in Christ, rooted in charity, ought to be committed to dialogue with other religions, respecting mutual differences. Common endeavors for the upbuilding of society will be of great value when they strengthen friendships and overcome misunderstanding or distrust. I have confidence that you and the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses will continue to bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman and child, regardless of their faith, by encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony. By doing everything possible to ensure that the rights of minorities in your country are respected, you further the cause of tolerance and mutual harmony in your country and beyond."

Full text on the Vatican Website.

September 14-17, 2011

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali and Abbot Timothy Wright, the "founders" of the exchange between DIMMID and Iranian Shi'a Muslims.
Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali and Abbot Timothy Wright, the "founders" of the exchange between DIMMID and Iranian Shi'a Muslims.

A dialogue between Iranian Shi'a Muslims and Christian monastics on "The Word of God Calling Us to Prayer and Witness" was held at the Primatial Abbey of Sant'Anselmo in Rome, September 14-17, 2011. A report on the conference appears in the current issue of Dilatato Corde, as well as  Abbot Timothy's public presentationon "Monastic-Muslim Dialogue: The Promise and the Challenge."

JUNE 28, 2011

From left to right: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (PCID), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (WCC), Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe (WEA)
From left to right: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (PCID), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (WCC), Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe (WEA)

The World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue have issued a joint statement on appropriate missionary conduct  entitled  “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct.”  These three bodies joined together to respond to the increasing interreligious tensions and conflicts in the world today in which Christians are sometimes involved, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, either as those who are persecuted or as those participating in violence,

The statement is the result of a five-year process. It was finalized at a meeting of the  third (inter-Christian) consultation that was held in Bangkok,Thailand, from 25-28, January, 2011, and was released during a public presentation at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 28, 2011. It is available on-line.

A Feature Story from the World Council of Church's news service is available on this link.

May 21, 2011

Al-Azhar Mosque and University
Al-Azhar Mosque and University

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arabic Republic of Egypt and newly elected Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Nabil Al-Arabi, during his visit to Rome the past Wednesday, 18 May.
At this meeting, according to a communique issued today, the minister conveyed the greetings of Sheikh of al-Azhar, Prof. Ahmad Al-Tayyib, and expressed the Grand Imam's desire that the recent difficulties in the relationship with the Holy See would be overcome.
Cardinal Tauran reiterated the esteem of Pope Benedict XVI for the people and authorities of Egypt and the Holy See's readiness to continue on the path of interreligious dialogue and cooperation with al-Azhar, carried on regularly since 1998.

Source: V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service. www.visnews.org
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City


April 2, 2011

Assisi, The Basilica of Saint Francis
Assisi, The Basilica of Saint Francis

The Holy See Press Office today published the following English-language communique:
"On 1 January 2011, after the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he wished to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting that took place in Assisi on 27 October 1986, at the wish of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II. On the day of the anniversary, 27 October this year, the Holy Father intends to hold a 'Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world', making a pilgrimage to the home of St. Francis and inviting fellow Christians from different denominations, representatives of the world's religious traditions and, in some sense, all men and women of good will, to join him once again on this journey.
"The Day will take as its theme: 'Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace'. Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one's own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no-one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection.
"For this reason, as well as representatives of Christian communities and of the principal religious traditions, some figures from the world of culture and science will be invited to share the journey - people who, while not professing to be religious, regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace in this world of ours".
The communique affirms that "the delegations will set off from Rome by train on the morning of 27 October, together with the Holy Father. Upon arrival in Assisi, they will make their way to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where the previous meetings will be recalled and the theme of the Day will be explored in greater depth. Leaders of some of the delegations present will make speeches and the Holy Father will likewise deliver an address".
There will then be a simple lunch, followed by a moment of silence for individual reflection and prayer. Later, all those present in Assisi will make a "pilgrimage" to the Basilica of Saint Francis, "in silence, leaving room for personal meditation and prayer". The final part of the Day will include "a solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace".
"In preparation for this Day, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a prayer vigil at St. Peter's the previous evening, together with the faithful of the diocese of Rome. Particular Churches and communities throughout the world are invited to organise similar times of prayer".
The communique concludes by highlighting that "the Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in St. Francis' home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage".

Source: V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service. www.visnews.org
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City

March 18, 2011
Dialogue between Believers and Non-believers

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, the presentation took place of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", an initiative by the Pontifical Council for Culture which will involve two days of meeting and dialogue between believers and non-believers in Paris, France, on 24 and 25 March.
Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas F.S.J., executive director of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, and Stanislas de Laboulaye, French ambassador to the Holy See.
Cardinal Ravasi explained that “at the request of Benedict XVI the Church has decided to embark on a new stage of dialogue, exchange and joint activity among believers and non-believers. This has been entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Culture”.
The name “Courtyard of the Gentiles” evokes “the image of the vast area near the Temple of Jerusalem reserved for debates between Jews and non-Jews”, the cardinal said. “It complements inter-religious dialogue which has been going on for some decades and represents a long-term commitment of the Church which will interest many people in the world, believers and non-believers alike”.
“The aim”, Cardinal Ravasi continued, “is to help to ensure that the great questions about human existence, especially the spiritual questions, are borne in mind and discussed in our societies, using our common reason”.
The president of the pontifical council went on: “That symbol of apartheid and sacral separation which was the wall of the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' was cancelled by Christ. He wished to eliminate barriers so as to ensure a harmonious meeting between the two peoples. ... Believers and non-believers stand on different ground, but they must not close themselves in a sacral or secular isolationism, ignoring one another or, worse still, launching taunts or accusations as do fundamentalists on one side and the other. Of course, differences must not be skimmed over, contradictory ideas must not be dismissed, or discordances ignored, ... but thoughts and words, deeds and decisions can be confronted, and even come together”, he said.
Relations between Christians and Gentiles “can follow the paradigm of a duel”, the cardinal concluded, “but what the ‘Courtyard of the Gentiles’ wishes to propose is, by contrast, a duet. A duet in which the sound of the voices may be at antipodes - such as a bass and a soprano - yet manage to create a harmony without renouncing their own identity; in other words, ... without fading away into a vague ideological syncretism”.
The inaugural session of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” will take place on the afternoon of 24 March at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, presided by Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, and attended by diplomats and representatives of the world of culture.
A number of initiatives are scheduled to be held on Friday 25 March: in the morning at the Sorbonne University and in the afternoon at the “Institut de France” and the “College des Bernardins”. The day will conclude with a celebration on the forecourt of the cathedral of Notre Dame with the theme: “Into the Courtyard of the Unknown”. The event is open to everyone, especially young people. The Pope will address those present from giant screens set up for the occasion, explaining the significance and objectives of the Pontifical Council for Culture's initiative.

Source: V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service. www.visnews.org
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City

March 17, 2011
White House Calls on US College Students to Engage in Interfaith Community Service

The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has announced that the White House is inviting higher education institutions in the United States to make the vision for interfaith cooperation a reality on campuses across the country. Details at President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge
February 16, 2011
Egyptian Revolution: An Interfaith Movement


Frank Fredericks, guest blogger in the Washington Post, writes that the protests in Egypt  have demonstrated explicit interfaith components. “It was only a few weeks ago that Egyptian Muslims attended Christmas mass with their Christian neighbors and friends as human shields after the deadly attack on a Coptic church. Mohamed El-Sawy, whose cultural center has hosted World Faith Cairo events, said of faith relations in Egypt, ‘We either live together or we die together.’ Returning the favor, Christians stood guard at mosques across Egypt while their Muslim friends finished their Friday prayers before the day's protests. When a few demonstrators began chanting ‘Allahu Akbar,’ others convinced them to join together: ‘Muslim, Christian, we're all Egyptian!’" You can access his complete article here.

February 9, 2011
R.I.P.Abbot Cornelius J. (Cees) Tholens OSB


Cornelius J. (Cees) Tholens OSB, former abbot of St. Willibroard’s Abbey, Slangenburg, Holland, died on February 5, 2011, at the age of 97. As  abbot of St. Willibrord’s, he played a key role in the Benedictine Confederation’s creation of both A.I.M., now known as Alliance Inter-Monastères / Alliance for International Monasticism, in 1961 and commissions for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in both Europe and North America in 1977.

Later this year we hope to publish an article in Dilatato Corde detailing Abbot Tholens’ contribution to monastic interreligious dialogue. For the present, we offer an excerpt from an interview that was published in the MID Bulletin (#5, May 2079).

In answer to the question, “As a monk and an Abbot who has gone to India, you have become, in your person, a sort of linkage between East and West. How did this come about? What attracted you to India?”, Abbot Tholens replied:

In a concrete way, the link was established in becoming a member of the AIM from its beginning. I already had an idea that we should have a congress in Asia because of the great interest in the meeting of East and West, also people I met in Holland and Amsterdam came from ashrams and were asking us, as monks, about it all and we just did not know. Slowly I came into contact with the Asian tradition and I cooperated in the organization of the AIM Congress in Bangkok in 1968, where I met Merton, and where he died. Also, I favored the renewal of the Church in Holland and I participated in this. I felt that we should not miss the chance in our relation with Asia, between the West and the East, as so many young people in our big cities of the West are on the way to the East. All this change indicates that there is a spiritual thirst, a deep desire, and that the Church alone can no longer answer the question of the meaning of man.

I was a monk, an abbot, I went to India because I was attracted by its wholeness. Personally, I felt a kind of desire to complete my experience as man. With great praise for monastic education (and asking pardon for the way I educated others as abbot!), I must say that I felt myself incomplete. I think what I found in India itself was precisely this non-duality, this “not-twoness”. There things are neither “one” nor “two”, God and man are not “one”, nor “two”. I was happy with this eastern idea that God is the real Self of man. I translate this in terms of the Gospel of St. John, referring to the Logos, the Word, by which we are created and which is the root of our existence, not only formally when we are born, but here and now, for you and for me. Then to know that my definite reality is in God in such a way that there is a power in myself, there is the Spirit of God. My Self, my soul is sharing with the Spirit of God. This non-duality in creation, between God and man, came to change my attitude vis-à-vis nature, culture, civilization, and the like. The subjective attitude took the place of the idea that we have to rule everything; and the coming to know ourselves as subject, not as object. To the Asian wise man, knowledge is not something to “get”, not to grasp something; but it is to become that other thing, because you are already one in the same oneness. So God is not an object, not a “this” nor a “that”, but the spark of his light is in each person.

I came to another new way of behaving toward nature—that is living in the lap of nature, and not ruling it. This is a contemplative attitude, I think. From this there came a leaping to another new idea, a wondering at “cosmic being”, and knowing that my being, my body, is cosmic in a way that had no end. The whole world is my body. Particularly when I heard Professor Panikkar talking about the cosmotheandric reality that is but one reality, I said to myself “this is it!” Since then, each day I read the Gospel, especially St. John, and my whole philosophy is that we are awakening to Reality. This Reality is not to take, not to find outside us, but that our whole way as man, of spirituality is to awaken to the Reality that we already are. We find God in ourselves. We are rooted in the same Reality at the same point, because in God we are not in one place and our fellowman in another, “next” to us—we are one!

January 28, 2011
Cardinal Tauran: Dialogue with Muslims will Go Forward

Cardinal Tauran at al-Azahr
Cardinal Tauran at al-Azahr

Following the announcement that the Islamic Research Council of the University of al-Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam, announced that it was breaking off relations with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to protest Pope Benedict’s “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs,” Cardinal Tauran said that the Vatican was trying to “understand well” the motives behind the al-Azhar decision, and that a “careful reading” of the Pope’s words would help to “dispel misunderstandings.” 

The reference was to Pope Benedict’s words in his speech to the Diplomatic Corps on January 11 in which he said, "In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities."

The Cardinal went on to say that "If we wish to progress in dialogue, we must first of all find time to sit down to talk from person to person, not through the newspapers."

The Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions has met annually with the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 1998. According to Cardinal Tauran, future scheduled meetings, including one in February, are still on track.

January 25, 2011
UN World Interfaith Harmony Week First Week of February


On October 20, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations, acting on a Resolution introduced by His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, proclaimed the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. Click on headline for more

January 9, 2011
Egyptian Muslims Protect Copts Celebrating Christmas


Muslims offered themselves as "human shields" on Friday to protect Coptic Christians celebrating their Christmas in Egypt just a week after a church bombing that killed 21 people. Under the Coptic calendar, Christmas Day falls on Jan. 7. Click on headline for more.


January 1, 2011
Pope Benedict to Commemorate 25th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi


In his Angelus message on January 1, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will go to Assisi in October of this year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, convoked by Pope John Paul II on October 27, 1986. Click on headline for more.

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