A conference focusing on inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims with workshops on ways to foster mutual understanding and enrich knowledge of the Catholic and Muslim faith traditions will be held in Pacet, Indonesia from August 7-17, 2011 with attendees from 32 countries.The theme is “Put Out into the Deep” (Lk. 5:4), and it is sponsored by SIEV, an educational outreach of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). SIEV stands for Secretariat International Des Etudes Vincentiennes and is funded by the General Curia of the Congregation in Rome, Italy.

This conference is open to all members of the Vincentian Family, and will be held in Indonesia, a country with the largest number of Muslim adherents in the world, estimated at over 200 million, or 88% of the population. The Indonesian province of the Vincentians, a vibrant and growing group of over 90 members with 50 men in formation, has assisted the SIEV planning committee in the logistics and set up of this conference.

This is the second SIEV conference devoted to Christian-Muslin relations and areas of commonality in the two faith traditions. The initial SIEV conference on this issue was held in Fatqa, Lebanon in August, 1999.

According to Fr. Claudio Santangelo, C.M. former Secretary General of the Congregation of the Mission, who will deliver the opening keynote address with Indonesian confrere Armada Riyanto, the goals of this conference are:

  • to discuss changes in the self- perception of Muslims world-wide over the last decade;
  • to explore Islam in the context of Indonesian life and culture;
  • to provide a context for inter-religious dialogue that can move beyond conflicts (from both a Muslim and Christian perspective);
  • to propose a theological understanding of Christian presence in a Muslim society; and
  • to demonstrate the viability of witnessing to the Vincentian charism in Muslim lands.

The conference will also offer workshops by religious and laity who have studied and worked in the area of Christian-Muslim relations, including a religious community of women founded and ministering in Indonesia. Bishop PC Mandagi, President of the Inter-Religious Council of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, will give a talk and lead a discussion on Church documents pertaining to the necessity for inter-religious dialogue. Two Assistants General of the Curia of the Congregation of the Mission in Rome will be present at the conference. Fr. Varghese Thottamkara, C.M. will deliver a welcome address and preach at a Mass, and Fr.  Zeracristos Yosief Woldemichael, C.M. will also preside and preach at Mass on the feast of the Assumption on August 15.

Conference participants will also be taken on excursions to visit Muslim and Catholic places of worship along with Indonesian cultural and civic places of interest. Translations in English, Spanish, and French will be provided for participants. Attendees from 32 countries are expected.

The conference “Put Out into the Deep” was organized by a planning committee of Vincentian priests and brothers, assisted by the SIEV board. The members of this planning group are Abdo Eid, CM, the Province of Lebanon; Franciscus Xaverius Armada, CM, the Province of Indonesia; Franz Kangler, CM, the Province of Austria, a missionary in Istanbul; Christian Mauvais, CM, the Province of Toulouse, who serves in Algeria; Claudio Santangelo, CM, the Province of Rome, and Jack Youssef, CM, the Province of Toulouse, who serves in Iran.

A web site for this conference has been set up: www.vindialogue.org. In addition to providing current information on this conference, it also contains the proceedings from the first SIEV conference on Christian-Muslim inter-religious dialogue held at Lebanon in 1999.

Discussion possibilities

  • What can followers of Vincent and Louise do locally to get beyond the heated rhetoric?
  • Is news of this events something you would consider forwarding to others?

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