Thursday, 29 May 2008

A Risk or Opportunity? Cardinal Explains Dialogue

Is interreligious dialogue a risk or an opportunity? It's both, said the president of the pontifical council dedicated to overseeing it.

*Mad Trad Comment* Thank God we have a Cardianl acknowledging the need for true dialogue which involves talking about what seperates us... As the Pope said at Regensburg it's important we see our persue truth, not only that which we consider to be our own truth. Like in the context of the university for example; that all faculties chemistry, theology, medicine, engineering are all dedicated to their subjects, but in a deeper way connected to each other in their universal search for truth (universalis i.e. where university comes from).*Mad Trad Comment*

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke Tuesday at the University of London's Heythrop College about the many facets of dialogue.

His address began with a historical look at the role of religion in society, noting the 18th-century tendency to separate reason and faith.

He proposed that God -- dismissed in recent centuries -- "is reappearing in public discourse today. News stands are full of books and magazines on religious subjects, esotericism and the new religions. 'The revenge of God' has been spoken of."

Cardinal Tauran acknowledged that many are frightened by dialogue.

"I answer that we should not fear religions: They generally preach brotherhood! It is their followers of whom we should be afraid. It is they who can pervert religion by putting it at the service of evil designs,".

The pontifical council president proposed a recipe for dialoguing: "It is necessary to have a clear-cut spiritual identity: to know in whom and in what one believes; consider the other not as a rival, but as a seeker of God; to agree to speak of what separates us and of the values that unite us."

He proposed the case of Islam:

"What separates us cannot be camouflaged: the relationship with our respective Scriptures: for a Muslim the Quran is a 'supernatural dictation' recorded by the prophet of Islam, while for a Christian, revelation is not a book, but a person; the person of Jesus, whom Muslims consider to be only an exceptional prophet; the dogma of the Trinity which leads Muslims to say that we are polytheists.

"But there are also realities which see us united and sometimes even collaborating in the dissemination of the same cause: faith in the oneness of God, the author of life and of the material world; the sacred character of the human person which has permitted, for example, collaboration of the Holy See and of Muslim countries with the United Nations Organization to prevent resolutions that damage families; vigilance to avoid symbols considered 'sacred' from being made the object of public derision."

Cardinal Tauran then indicated areas where Muslims and Christians can collaborate in promoting the common good. He mentioned as an example the defense of the sacredness of human life before the United Nations.

To conclude his address, the prelate said:

"If I may say so, believers are prophets of hope. They do not believe in fate. They know that -- gifted by God with a heart and intelligence -- they can, with his help, change the course of history in order to orientate their life according to the project of the Creator: that is to say, make of humanity an authentic family of which each one of us is a member."

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