(Source: CD/Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, CCEE)

A webinar of the CCEE Interreligious Dialogue Section took place November 5 on the theme: “Interreligious dialogue: the horizon of fraternity and the ways of religious education”.

37 bishops and national delegates took part in the online meeting on the dialogue between religions, which was originally supposed to take place in Sarajevo from April 21-23 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus.

There were two presentations in the programme: first, “Religions at the service of fraternity in the world”, presented by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and second, “Religious Education between the formal and the hidden curricula: ethnographic perspectives from Europe and the Middle East”, presented by Professor Daniele Cantini of the Martin Luther University in Halle (Germany).

Starting from an analysis of the recent encyclical of Pope Francis Fratelli tutti – read in relation to the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis together with Imam Al Tayyeb of Al Azhar – Cardinal Ayuso stressed that fraternity between people of different religions, and non-believers alike, is the horizon to which interreligious dialogue in general and Islamic-Christian dialogue in particular tends.

In this perspective, it becomes urgent, on the one hand, that in public debate there should be room for reflection that proceeds from a religious background in relation to other contributions of a scientific and humanistic nature; on the other hand, there is an appeal to religions to make the most of their spiritual and moral resources in order to mature in mutual solidarity, whilst offering concrete evidence of this in contemporary societies.

This implies the condemnation of all forms of violence, especially when carried out in the name of religion, in the knowledge that today our societies are often culturally marked by the forgetfulness or abuse of the name of God.

This last point recalls the centrality of religious education in order to build experiences of fraternity as deeply rooted and as widespread as possible.

Education – as Professor Cantini highlighted in the second report – is of central importance not only for the content taught, but above all for the way in which it is interpreted and contextualised, also in relation to the various authorities by whom it is proposed.

Within this area in particular, the construction of religious identities that are either open and dialoguing or self-referential and mutually competitive is at stake.

These are important lines of interpretation to proceed at a local level with experiences of interreligious dialogue that are deliberate, profound, endowed with critical sense and nourished by the “music of the Gospel” that must resonate in Christian communities where these are embedded among people.

Religions at the service of fraternity in the world

Full text of Cardinal Ayuso’s presentation

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.