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USCCB sponsors interreligious dialogue for Catholic, Muslim, Hindu young adults

Catholic World News - November 26, 2012

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has sponsored Generations of Faith 2012, a gathering of Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh young adults.

“The modern era presents one answer to the question of how to accommodate an increasing diversity of religious belief and expression in western culture, a diversity that sometimes may lead to tension or conflict,” Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout of Washington said in his keynote address. “It is the approach of secularism – the pushing of those with religious belief to the margins of or completely out of the civic space. However, there is another approach which is more effective and respectful of the reality of the spiritual dimension of life – it is what we engage in today – dialogue, which has as its fruit understanding and mutual respect.”

Bishop Knestout added:

Speaking from my own limited experience in interreligious dialogue, a Muslim or a Jew who cherishes a radically transcendent monotheism that precludes belief in the very possibility of Incarnation (God become flesh) must feel that his or her non-Muslim partner in dialogue will receive his or her (Islamic or Jewish) belief with an openness that suggests that his/her (Islamic or Jewish) belief will not be mocked, dismissed, pilloried, or, at least at first, challenged.

“You, my Muslim dialogue partner, will be listened to with respect,” one must say. “You will be given a space to disclose your mind and heart. I will listen. I want to listen. I want to know you, and I promise to respect your thoughts as they unfold to me the recipient of your trust.”

Furthermore, “I” as the privileged subject-recipient of what you hold to be objectively true from your faith perspective, i.e., the content of your heart and mind, must also make a choice. In this case, I must choose to conduct myself with integrity by being an active listener that is perceptibly patient and warm. I must listen and not speak, at least not at first, and not until I am invited. I must, perhaps above all, present a welcoming countenance and mean it. I am, as it were, the active agent of the other before me—beckoning them to present themselves, that is their true feelings and ideas, without fear, by means of the outward welcoming disposition of a trustworthy companion.

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