Adult Faith Development Explores relations with World religions
with a focus on Islam

Professor Fabrice Blee, expert in world religions and interreligious dialogue, brought essential information and deeply thought-provoking insights to our "Putting Out Into The Deep!" adult faith development session of Saturday, February 12th. Participants were challenged to understand the church's official teaching on relationship with other world religions: a position of openness and acceptance; a call to mutuality and respect. Fabrice challenged participants to regard dialogue not as trying to become the same as the other, but as becoming open to receive and to understand. He explained that conflict is a necessary part of being different from each other, but it need not translate into fear, territorialism and violence. On that contrary, a real receiving of the other is a call to mutuality, to respect and peace.

Fabrice Blee

Prof Fabrice Blee presents on world religions and interreligious dialogue

Fabrice highlighted aspects of the Second Vatican Council's document Nostra Aetate, a declaration on the church's position in relationship to other world religions. In it we find a call to dialogue and an emphasis on the spirit present in all the religions of the world.

Fabrice described violence as a product of our inability to accept our differences and to regard those who believe and pray differently with reverence and respect.

Panel discussion

(L-R) Mr. Carl Hetu, Sr. Mary-Ellen Francoeur, Mr. Abdul Rashid, and Archbishop Marcel Gervais speak on the topic.
Fabrice Blee joins them for discussion with participants.

An afternoon panel presentation and discussion developed the topic further. Panellists each contributed some of their insights and experiences about the topic. Rich insights and hopes were brought to the table as each emphasized the need for peaceful, non-judgmental relations with each other, especially in the most troubled area of the world. Archbishop Gervais spoke about his great excitement as a young priests studying in Rome when Nostra Aetate was promulgated and the great hope it brought, Sr. Mary-Ellen Francoeur drew upon her many experiences to emphasize the need for a spirituality of nonviolence, Mr. Carl Hetu highlighted our tenancy to villainize' the other and challenged all to examine the attitudes and assumptions that contribute to these prejudices and resulting violence.

Mr Abdul Rashid, a Muslim teacher, leader and scholar, clarified some interpretations of passages from the Koran and emphasized the great respect and kindredness with which the Muslim faith holds Christianity, emphasizing that we mustn't allow a few misguided Muslims or misguided Christians to result in wrong assumptions about all Christians and Muslims are that way. He emphasized the need to clear up misunderstandings and to greet one another properly in our common humanity and need for peace and respect.

Participants were very engaged in the session, reported vital new insights, and enthusiastically requested more opportunities for learning about this essential topic.

The next session will take place on Saturday, March 19th, 2005 when the question "What does it Mean to be A Catholic in the World Today?" will be addressed from the perspective of the gifts aboriginal spirituality brings to Catholicism. Dayrold Winkler, Basilian priest, doctoral student in aboriginal spiritualty and Ojibway from Manitoulin Island will be our presenter. All are welcome! Contact Annmarie Brown 738-5025 (x217) to register or Carol Kuzmochka, 738-5025 (x251). e-mail: [email protected] for further information.

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