Tag Archives: dialogue

Pope says UAE trip was ‘new page’ in dialogue between Christians, Muslims

Pope Francis at the general audience Feb. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City – Pope Francis said Wednesday that his recent trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was a step forward in Catholic-Muslim dialogue and promoting peace among religions.

Though a brief visit, the “scattered seeds” of the Feb. 3-5 trip will bear fruit according to God’s will, he said during the general audience Feb. 6.

The visit to the UAE, and second meeting with the Muslim Grand Imam of al-Azhar, “wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human brotherhood.”

Pope Francis first met the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, during a 2017 apostolic visit to Egypt. The two signed a joint document on human fraternity Feb. 4.

In the document, “we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values and peace throughout the world,” the pope stated.

In this era, he said, when there is strong a temptation to discord between Christian and Islamic cultures, and considering religions as sources of conflict, “we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that instead it is possible to meet, it is possible to respect and dialogue.”

He added that he recommends people read the document and try to understand it, because it has helpful points for how to carry out a dialogue on human fraternity.

“Despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and still other things,” he said.

Francis’ trip to the UAE, the first of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, also fell 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi visited the Sultan Malik al Kamil in Egypt. Pope Francis said it was “Providence” that a pope named Francis made the historic trip on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s visit.

“I often thought of Saint Francis during this journey: he helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while I was living the various moments of the visit,” he said.

“In my heart there was the Gospel of Christ,” he said, “the prayer to the Father for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustice, wars, misery; prayer because the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today’s world.”

During the audience, Francis also recalled his meetings with two 90-year-old priests who have both served in the UAE for many years. One, he said, is now blind and in a wheelchair, but a smile never left his lips. “The smile of having served the Lord and done very good.”

Another highlight of the trip, he pointed out, was the Mass he celebrated in the stadium in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5, which was attended by around 150,000 people. “There were so many people!” he said. “We prayed in a special way for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen.” – Hannah Brockhaus, 6Feb2019 (CNA/EWTN News)

Catholic communicators urge greater respect in public discourse

Michael Warsaw at a Communication Seminar in Rome, Italy, 17-19 April 2018. Credit: Marina Testino/CNA

VATICAN CITY – This week, Catholic communicators gathered in Rome to discuss the need for more respectful dialogue in the public sphere, saying that fake news and polemics must be overcome with truth, mercy and openness.

When it comes to modern day public discourse, Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “we have to be aware of our language, because nowadays people switch off, they don’t hear, and we cannot get the Gospel message out simply condemning everyone who lives their lives contrary to what we believe in.”

Now more than ever when emotions are high, polemics are strong, and digital communication is increasingly more impersonal, mutual respect is needed in order to effectively communicate with those we don’t agree with, both within the Church, and outside of it, he said.

This is also true “in the kind of culture wars which we are engaging in sometimes even within the Church; they simply drown out any opportunity for people to make that personal commitment to Christ, which is really what the Gospel is about.”

“This is a challenge for us within the Church, and it’s exemplified by blogs countering blogs, Twitter countering Twitter, where everyone is shouting and absolutely no one is hearing anything.”

The remedy, Martin said, is to focus, in every exchange, on communicating the fact that “God loves you, he loves you personally, he’s calling you to conversion in your own personal life story.”

Archbishop Martin spoke on the first day of an  17-19 April 2018 conference for Catholic communicators in Rome. Co-organised by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and EWTN, the three-day seminar was dedicated to the theme of “Dialogue, Respect and Freedom of Expression in the Public Arena.”

Speakers and panelists included media representatives and experts from around the world who touched on issues such as polarisation, fake news, defamation and how to promote values through the media.

Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EWTN Global Catholic Network, gave a keynote speech on fake news and the responsibility of journalists on the final day of the conference.

Warsaw pointed to a recent example of a fake story that gained a lot of steam during the US presidential election of 2016.

During the campaign season, a fake news site published an article titled “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” which gained more than 100,000 comments, shares, and reactions on Facebook alone, and nearly 1 million Facebook engagements, making it “the single biggest fake news hit of the US Election.”

Shortly after, another fake news article appeared saying Pope Francis had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, he said, noting that it is thanks to articles like this that modern society has come to be known as the “post-truth” or “post-fact” world.

Warsaw cited various studies showing that consumers of fake news are no small minority, and, quoting the pope, said that because of this, journalists in particular are called to be “the protectors of news.”

“Pope Francis, in his 2018 message, rightly condemns that ‘spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests,’…But, the challenges facing journalism and the public at large today go deeper than the ‘fake news’ phenomenon,” he said.

Rather, the real crux of the matter is growing general distrust of media, as well as a loss of trust in data, analysis, and objective facts, he said.

Because of this, those who work in social communications must be offered ongoing formation, both spiritual and professional, so that both individual journalists and media outlets “become more trusted by the public, and are seen as objective and reliable.”

Quoting Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Social Communications, Warsaw said the most “radical antidote” to the phenomenon of fake news is “purification by the truth.”

“As Catholic communicators and media, we are called to do our part to be truth tellers,” he said, and “we must take heart in knowing that we are not the first Catholics to live in a ‘post truth’ era.”

In his comments to CNA, Archbishop Martin stressed the importance of fostering an environment where true and honest dialogue can take place, and where media can help “engage in a culture of encounter.”

“We meet people where they are at, some of whom are completely against what we stand for, others who are open to conversation,” he said, explaining that when things get heated, “pacifying” one’s tone is a good place to start in terms of having a fruitful exchange.

“I think this conference has courageously opened up a sort of middle-ground where we can engage in a type of court of the gentiles, where we enter that space in which there are some people who are diametrically opposed to what we stand for.”

And this, the archbishop said, can only happen “out of respect, and it can only happen when there is a culture of freedom to speak.”

For those involved in communication, “we c only hope that with the help of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God, that we can invite people, that we can win them for Christ, by our witness, by our example, and by the strength and courage of our message.” – Elise Harrisan, CNA/EWTN News

SMP PPC meets ministry and group coordinators

TANJUNG ARU – Twenty-two out of 30 ministries and groups serving Stella Maris parish came together to have a dialogue with the pastor and the Parish Pastoral Council on 8 Jan 2017 at the parish conference room here.

The meeting was to listen to the challenges faced by the members, as well as to be briefed by them on their programmes for the year.

Msgr Primus Jouil said he was pleased with the sharings and encouraged to see unity among them, indicating an active parish.

He said that his door is always open for any discussion. – Teresa Alberto

Dialogue and encounter with the peoples of Asia

representation-of-asia

On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29). But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and our fundamental point of reference, which guides us to our destination? Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians. We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways. I would like to point to three of these. One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth. Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10). In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem. Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree. An agreement to disagree… so as not to make waves… This sort of superficiality does us great harm.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart. […] – For full text on Pope Francis’ Evangelistic Intention for Feb 2016 @ www.apmej.net

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