Monday, 9 June 2003

Georgetown (Fides Service) – In Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, the Jesuits Fathers have opened an Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions. Jesuit Superior in Guyana Father Joe Chria explains: “commitment for interreligious and inter-cultural dialogue is one of the main fields of the apostolate for the Society of Jesus”. The initiative was started when the Fathers realised that Guyana has a society with many cultures and religions. One of the main duties for Catholics, he said, is to promote mutual respect, esteem, collaboration and understanding among people of different ethnic origin and religion.
The Director of the new Institute is Jesuit Father Stanislaus Arul, an expert from India, who came for a short period first of all and has now been asked to stay. In the capital the Jesuits already have a Nirmala Ashram meditation-centre open to people of all religions for sharing of spirituality. The Ashram has hosted various meetings for leaders of the local Christian, Hindu, Muslim communities as well as seminars and formation courses on interreligious questions. This experience led to the new initiative of the Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions. The Institute is located in a building offered by a local Catholic member of the Jesuit mission. In agreement with Guyana University the Institute will host some of the lectures offered by the national campus.
The main aims of the Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions are:
- research on relations between cultures and between religions;
- increase awareness in families and in society with regard to values common to all religions;
- promote non violent approach to solving conflicts;
- formation programmes for state workers, volunteers and students.
At the inauguration of the Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions in May, Father Arul said: “I rely on the prayers of everyone so that our Institute may further reciprocal understanding and respect among the believers of different religions, and help build harmony and peace in Guyana and in the rest of the world.
Guyana has a population of about 800,000: 33% Hindu, 11% Catholic; 29% other Christians, 9% Muslim and minorities which follow animist cults. PA (Fides Service 9/6/2003 EM lines 33 Words: 379)