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Interfaith dialogue vital for China


ROME (Agencies): “Interfaith dialogue is something that China, which will have the world’s largest Christian population in 20 years, lives with every day,” theologian, Harvey Cox, said at a book launch at the Gregorian University in Rome on November 30, in launching Catholic Engagement with World Religions: A Comprehensive Study in dialogue with its two editors, Karl Josef Cardinal Becker, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Ilaria Morali, from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The two editors were present at the book launch at the pontifical university.

Cox teaches at the Harvard Divinity School in Massachusetts in the United States of America. He said the new book will play an invaluable role in determining where we’ve been in the past, where we are now, and where we’re headed.

“There are two world phenomena happening right now,” he added. “The first is that we can’t recognise Christianity as a western religion anymore and the second is that countries with the fastest growing number of Christians don’t have a Christian culture or traditions.”

Morali, a professor at Harvard, teaches theology specialising in dialogue with Islam. She noted, “The starting point of the book was the experience we had in different contexts,” CNA reported.

“I’ve been seven times to Turkey where I met a Muslim professor and we discussed many topics concerning our religions,” Morali said.

“I told him about the need for young students to have an instrument to help them understand and deepen their theological knowledge and the Catholic theology’s attitude toward non-Christian religions.”
She stressed that in interreligious dialogue, one non-negotiable fundamental is that people keep their own religious identity.

“We have to acknowledge that we have different ways of considering the divine and we can’t avoid these differences, but I believe our identity is many times the instrument necessary to enter into a deeper dialogue,” she explained.

Morali reflected that interreligious dialogue is important because it is the unique way today to overcome some tensions and to know each other.

The book launch was part of a two-day session of talks at the Gregorian University on missiology to mark the 80th anniversary of the faculty of missiology.

Mexican Father Fernando Velázquez, told CNA that he believes interreligious dialogue is one of the most important issues that the Church faces today.

“Dialogue has a great future and the Church is heading it, being extremely open to it because it is not afraid,” he noted. “Professor Cox has refreshed our minds and we need to go back to Jesus Christ’s main message and what he did when he would meet someone different.

“Jesus always met with people who were different from him,” Father Velázquez said, adding that fear and misunderstanding often comes from the media, “which only portrays a tiny part of what other religions are and, unfortunately, people don’t inform themselves better.” He emphasised, “The solution is to meet with people of that other religion and share your faith from a personal experience.”


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