Interreligious Dialogue a "Demanding Art"

ROME, DEC. 4, 2002 ( Interreligious dialogue is «an extremely demanding art,» a theologian cautioned a gathering of Christians and Muslims in Rome.

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The meeting, entitled «Know One Another to Live Together,» on Friday brought together representatives of both religions, who exchanged experiences on issues such as coexistence, human rights and peace.

Monsignor Piero Coda, a theologian at the Lateran University, defined interreligious dialogue as «an imperative, an extremely demanding art that requires knowing how to relate to the other.»

An attitude that must precede dialogue is «to believe that the other also believes in dialogue,» he observed. The monsignor applauded the Christian-Muslim initiative as a «sign that something is opening up.»

For his part, Father Daniel Madigan, director of the Center of Studies of Religion and Culture of the Gregorian University, said that «dialogue between religions does not exist; dialogue between persons exists.»

He said the expression «interreligious dialogue» suggests that religious questions should be addressed, when in reality doctrines are not the most urgent questions. More urgent, he said, are questions about human rights and aid.

Omar Camiletti, representative of the Islamic Cultural Center of Rome, said, «Dialogue is an essential part of Islam,» and he insisted that «Islam has always coexisted with other beliefs. Islam is spiritual by nature and has a strong spirituality of defense of life.»

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