Zamboanga (Agenzia Fides) - "The Year of interreligious dialogue, promoted by the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in 2020, in preparation for 2021, a special moment of celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, is an opportunity to revisit the mission of interreligious dialogue today": this was stated to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME, new executive secretary of the Commission for interreligious dialogue in the Philippine Bishops Conference.
The missionary, who launched the "Silsilah" movement for dialogue in the southern Philippines, explains: "We must help Catholics, Christians of different denominations, Muslims and people of other religions to have a better understanding of the mission of interreligious dialogue. Catholics, called to renew their faith, are also invited to rediscover the importance of walking together in solidarity with people of different faiths, cultures and religions. In the Philippine context, this invitation becomes an urgent sign of the times when Christians are able to overcome the fears and prejudices built over the centuries above all towards Muslims, in order to reach an authentic understanding and respect for indigenous culture and tradition".
Fr. D'ambra, who has just published the text "Walking together on the road of dialogue", for Claretian Publications, points out to Fides: "It is important that Christians, in this special moment for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines, make an effort to remove the prejudices accumulated in the past, to be faithful to the new commandment of Jesus: the commandment of love". The missionary points out "a new statement of the importance of the culture of dialogue" in the recent document "On human fraternity for peace and coexistence in the world together", signed on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. That text declares "the adoption of the culture of dialogue as a path, mutual cooperation as a code of conduct, mutual understanding as a method and standard".
"In the Philippines - says the PIME missionary - we are challenged to deepen the spirit of the culture of dialogue. Our challenge today is to give a deeper meaning to the "Culture of dialogue" to deepen dialogue with God, dialogue with oneself, dialogue with others and dialogue with creation. In this framework, we can better understand sincere dialogue with people of other religions: interreligious dialogue helps us move towards mutual cooperation as a code of conduct and mutual understanding as method and standard.
The missionary hopes that "we can develop a true culture of dialogue with everyone, starting from our family, community, as well as in our relationships with everyone in society, including relations with people of other religions, especially Muslims in the Philippines". "This is the new encounter - he concludes - that we must build together, convinced that we are all part of the same human family, created and loved by God, our Creator". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/6/2019)