French catholic-muslim conference worried about future for dialogue

Fr Christophe Roucou, mind from the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam in Paris, Sept 28, 2013/Tom Heneghan

Catholic-Muslim dialogue has brought to extensive ties of friendship and cooperation in recent decades in France, but enthusiasm for interreligious contacts appears to become waning and a few more youthful religious leaders from both faiths question its effectiveness as well as show some hostility, based on Catholic and Muslim loudspeakers in a conference in Paris.

Meeting to mark the 40th anniversary from the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam (SRI), several loudspeakers recounted the way they went from other people to buddies with the interreligious dialogue which was launched through the reforms from the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

Muslim and Catholic dialogue delegates from round the country spoke of the way they reached know each other’s belief, launched joint projects like soup kitchens and helped mixed-belief couples get ready for marriage and navigate possible cultural tensions following the big day.

But several loudspeakers, especially around the Catholic side, couldn’t hide a particular disappointment at the possible lack of more progress of interfaith relations here as well as in the Muslim world.

“Faced using its slow progress, with violence and persecutions (in Muslim countries), some judge the outcomes disappointing,” stated Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president from the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. “The serious problem is ignorance — we don’t fully realize one another. Simultaneously, dialogue is really a necessary.”

One danger is the fact that dialogue turn into restricted to a select couple of, he stated. “If we let dialogue end up being the work of specialists, it is hostage to clothes.,Inches he stated.

France has got the largest Muslim minority in Europe, numbering about 5 million, and also the French Catholic Church has got the most extensive dialogue program in the area. The SRI in Paris and designated experts in 70 dioceses across the nation support dialogue with Muslims which help with pastoral issues.

SRI director Fr. Christophe Roucou is really a fluent Arabic speaker, getting studied in the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in Rome and labored ten years in Egypt.

In France They-born Cardinal Tauran stated SRI had had close friendly ties with Muslim leaders in France which contacts between Rome and also the Islamic world had gradually progressed recently.

The election of Pope Francis should result in a renewal from the Vatican’s dialogue with al-Azhar College in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s greatest authority. Al-Azhar cut bilateral ties in The month of january 2011 after now upon the market Pope Benedict spoke out against violent attacks on places of worship in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria.

“There was a type of mental obstacle with Pope Benedict,” Tauran told Reuters, recalling that Muslims construed his 2006 Regensburg speech as insulting for them. He was sure contacts would resume but tend to not say when since it was as much as al-Azhar to help make the next thing.

But despite progress, Tauran added, religious freedom — particularly the freedom to transform with other faiths — continues to be a taboo subject within the Muslim world, Christians can’t practice their belief freely in Saudi Arabia and schoolbooks in Gulf countries still describe Christians as infidels.

Tareq Oubrou, grand imam of Bordeaux, remembered that Nostra Aetate, the 2nd Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with non-Christian religions, introduced a “Copernican revolution” in Rome’s relations along with other faiths.

But he stated some Muslims still had “a medieval Catholic Church in mind” whilst in the Catholic Church there have been still “traces of anti-Islamism remaining in the pre-Vatican II period.” Both religions, he stated, were “threatened from inside” by their extreme fringes.

Muslims in Europe must understand that Europe, despite its prevalent secularisation, still continued to be marked by Christian traditions, stated Oubrou, who lately printed a magazine-length dialogue with Fr Roucou titled Le prêtre et l’imam (The Priest and also the Imam).

They’d to adjust to existence around the continent, he stated , and also the problem they face is “what don’t let conserve and just what don’t let sacrifice from your traditions?”

Azzedine Gaci, a number one imam from Lyon and active participant in interreligious dialogue, stated some more youthful clerics in France were hostile to mix-belief contacts. It was true for clergymen and imams, he stated, “but people talk less concerning the clergymen who’re against dialogue.”

There is lots of anxiety about and ignorance about Islam in France, especially following the 9/11 attacks in New You are able to and Washington, and interfaith dialogue would be a necessary reaction to this. “We need to learn how to respect another because God wanted him to exist,” he stated.

Sana de Courcelles, a Muslim married to some Catholic, told how she and her husband counseled mixed couples before marriage. “Our faiths are strengthened since they’re discussed freely,” she stated. “We tell the couples that love is complex along with a mixed marriage is really a meeting of two families and 2 cultures.” Clients meet to assist mixed couples reside in peace and respect without getting to compromise their faiths.

Several loudspeakers stated many majority French still didn’t know their Muslim neighbours. “There’s anxiety there,” stated Georges Jousse, a dialogue delegate in Bordeaux. “It’s harder now. People ask us what we’re doing. We must give a free account in our work.”

However, there were promising initiatives by more youthful French Catholics and Muslims, generally most participants in interfaith dialogue were older believers. “We’re growing older there aren’t a lot of us,Inches he stated. You will find less youthful people.”

It was partially because of the different atmospheres by which different generations increased up, he stated. As he was youthful, Jousse stated, the Church was just like a strong citadel and youthful Catholics took it to satisfy the world. Presently there were much less believers, he stated.

Among worrying signs for future years of dialogue is always that no Europeans are studying now at PISAI in Rome, the Vatican institute focused on the job of preparing Catholics to utilize the Muslim world.

“We have to purchase training people for dialogue,” stated Tauran, who stated the possible lack of clergymen was mostly the reason for the possible lack of European students at PISAI.

Tauran noted that Pope Francis, as he was still being Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, appreciated the need for training Catholics in dialogue with Muslims. “He found see me 3 years ago and sent an Argentine priest to understand Arabic in Cairo so he might have somebody that understands Islam and may lead to interfaith dialogue.”

He stated Islam and also the Arabic language of their scriptures were foreign to Westerners there was much ignorance about the subject. “We have to purchase education,” he stated. “There ought to be courses in seminaries about world religions, especially Islam. Dialogue happens between those who have exactly the same skills to go over what they’ve in keeping.Inches

Still, he stated, the violence within the Islamic world demonstrated that Muslims and Christians required to know one another better. “There isn’t any option to dialogue — it’s dialogue or war,” he stated.


Why is dialogue with the Catholic Church important to Muslims, Part I