Vincentian Priest – Necessity of Christian-Muslim Dialog

by | Aug 9, 2011 | Congregation of the Mission, Vincentian Family | 3 comments

Both the conference  “Put Out into the Deep”and the web site www.vindialogue.org can help Vincentian Family Members recognize that:

  • Islam is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity, and will soon be the second largest in countries such as the USA and Western Europe;
  • Muslims are, and will increasingly be, our neighbors, colleagues and fellow citizens;
  • Ignorance about Islam distorts our view of one-fifth of the world’s population and causes us to misinterpret important global events and phenomena;
  • Peace and safety cannot be achieved in ignorance, but can be promoted by knowledge and understanding which grows through dialogue.

So writes Fr. Claudio Santangelo, CM keynote speaker at the conference.

In his four years working at the General Curia in Rome as Secretary General of the Congregation of the Mission, Fr. Claudio Santangelo was called upon to do a multitude of tasks, often at warp speed and in several languages. Ordained in 1997, Fr. Claudio was appointed to the office of Secretary General for the Vincentian Curia in Rome in 2007, a post he held until January, 2011. As Secretary General, Fr. Claudio was statistician, official correspondent of the Congregation with Vatican offices, notary, and the representative to SIEV, which plans a yearly program in a needed area of study for the Vincentian Family.

Having served as a lecturer in educational institutions in the USA and Italy while also travelling extensively in various part of the world before joining the Vincentians, Fr. Claudio is accustomed to keeping a frenetic schedule when needed. Besides, he is a native of Rome, and residents of the Eternal City pride themselves on always being in motion, (except for August, when Romans seem take to the mountains and seas of Italy in droves!)

But working with the SEIV board to take the idea of a conference on Christian- Muslim inter-religious dialogue from the drawing board to becoming an actual organic event was much more challenging than he’d ever imagined. “It was an idea that the SIEV board members felt were essential, and when the Province of Indonesia was generous enough to offer their help, I knew we were on the right track”, Fr. Claudio said. “However, the path from idea to reality was a great deal more complicated than any of us could have imagined.”

Coming up with a theme and schedule wasn’t too difficult, especially since SIEV had held a ground-breaking conference on Christian-Muslim inter-religious dialogue a decade earlier. However, lining up guest speakers, working with the logistics of containing costs, coordinating movement of a large number of people to and from Indonesia, and insuring the local Catholic Church and civic authorities were informed and in concert with this conference was a challenge.

But for Fr. Claudio, helping to “Put out into the Deep” was not an add-on to his many tasks, but an essential part of what he believes he is called to do as a Vincentian. “Inter-religious dialogue for  Vincentians nowadays is not merely an activity, but also part of daily existence of living together with people from other faiths”, Fr. Claudio noted. He also pointed out that five of the six Vincentians on the SIEV conference planning committee minister in Muslim countries where Christians are a small minority of the overall population.

Despite long hours he’s spent in planning, refining, and finalizing conference details, and the length of air travel time to and from Indonesia, Fr. Claudio is enthusiastic for and ready to “Put Out into the Deep.” And for the many who can’t join him on this exciting, new way to unearth the Vincentian charism in the Muslim world, www.vindialogue.org provides a portal into not only the proceedings of the conference, but the next steps for Vincentian Family members who want to learn more about this timely and crucial topic in today’s world.

Were you aware that …

  • of the 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world less than 1% are extremists… because they don’t understand their religion?
  • the Koran does not condone terrorism? (See Tidbit below)
  • Muslims both at the official academic and popular levels have shown a keen interest in participating in the Christian – Muslim dialogue and have been engaged actively in it.at  (See Tidbit below)

Tidbits

  • Does the Qur’an condone terrorism?

The Qur’an does not advocate or condone terrorism. Islam, like all world religions, neither supports nor requires the illegitimate use of violence or acts of terrorism. Islam does permit, and at times requires, Muslims to defend themselves, their families, their religion and their community from aggression.
The earliest Qur’anic verses dealing with the right to engage in a defensive jihad, or struggle, were revealed shortly after the emigration of Muhammad and his followers to Madinah in flight from their persecution in Makkah. At a time when they were forced to fight for their lives, Muhammad is told: “Leave is given to those who fight because they were wronged—surely God is able to help them—who were expelled from their homes wrongfully for saying, ‘Our Lord is God’” (Chapter 22 Verse 39). The defensive nature of jihad is clearly emphasized in 2:190: “And fight in the way of God with those who fight you, but aggress not: God loves not the aggressors.”
The Qur’an also provided detailed guidelines and regulations regarding the conduct of wars: who is to fight and who is exempted (48:17, 9:91), when hostilities must cease (2:192) and how prisoners should be treated (47:4). Most important, passages such as Chapter 2 Verse 294 emphasized that the response to violence and aggression must be proportionate.
However, Qur’anic verses also underscore that peace, not violence and warfare, is the norm. Permission to fight the enemy is balanced by a strong mandate for making peace: “If your enemy inclines toward peace, then you too should seek peace and put your trust in God” (8:61), and “Had God wished, He would have made them dominate you, and so, if they leave you alone and do not fight you and offer you peace, then God allows you no way against them” (4:90). From the earliest times, it is forbidden in Islam to kill noncombatants.
But what of those verses, sometimes referred to as the “sword verses,” that call for killing unbelievers, such as “When the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush” (9:5)? This is one of a number of Qur’anic verses that are selectively cited to demonstrate the supposedly violent nature of Islam and its scripture. In fact, however, the passage above is followed and qualified by, “But if they repent and fulfill their devotional obligations and pay the zakat , then let them go their way, for God is forgiving and kind” (9:5). The same is true of another often quoted verse: “Fight those who believe not in God nor in the Last Day, Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, Nor hold the religion of truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book,” which is often cited without the line that follows, “until they pay the tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29).

Taken from the VinDialog website related to the upcoming conference.

  • Muslims on dialog

Muslims both at the official academic and popular levels have, on the other hand, shown a keen interest in participating in the Christian – Muslim dialogue and have been engaged actively in it. This new culture of dialogue augurs well for the future relations between the two great faiths, Christianity and Islam. This is particularly significant in view of the fact that the religious character of the Twenty-First Century may be determined primarily by the outcome of the Christian – Muslim dialogue and the eventual cooperation between them to create a “culture of peace” where ethics and morality provide the necessary guidelines for scientific and technological progress.

  • A famous native American, Chief Seattle wrote 

“If our people can talk together – They will soon come to know one another ….

If they do not talk ~ Then they will not know each other.

And what one does not know – one fears –

And, what one fears – one destroys.”

3 Comments

  1. Lorraine Fusaro

    Dear FamVin,

    Perhaps you may be interested in learning about Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey, Daughter of Charity (1837-1915). The Cause for her Beatification was opened on January 21, 2011 by Bishop Finn in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. She is recognized by the Church as Foundress of Mary’s House in Ephesus, Turkey, the only Catholic Shrine in a Muslim country. Mary’s little home built for her by St. John the Evengelist during the Christian persecution of the first century, remains a unique place of prayer where Muslims and Christians pray side by side in peace as they honor Mary. IN the post 9/11 wolrd the common ground of Mary’s House is a perfect place to begin and sustain a dialogue…not with vocal words but with silent prayers offered to Our Lady by God’s children of different faiths. It is easy to then trust Our Lady to tend to all the details of conversion and reconciliation and peace…To Jesus through Mary! Please visit the website http://www.sistermarie.com to learn more. Consider ordering the book being released in the Fall by St. Benedict Press/TAN Books written by your confrere Rev. Carl Schulte, CM., entitiled The Life of Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey & Mary’s House in Ephesus. Thank you!

  2. Lorraine Fusaro

    Also consider this quotation of our Holy Father.

    “From here in Ephesus, a city blessed by the presence of Mary Most Holy — who we know is loved and venerated also by Muslims – let us lift up to the Lord a special prayer for peace between peoples.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Homily at “Mary’s House” in Ephesus, Turkey, November 29, 2006

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This