11/21/2007, 00.00
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Let the spirit of Regensburg enter inter-faith dialogue, says Mgr Dabre

by Nirmala Carvalho
The bishop of Vasai, who yesterday was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious by Benedict XVI, talks to AsiaNews about the importance of the Pope’s Regensburg ‘lectio’ in which he laid down the bases for a true and fruitful dialogue between religions. This is especially fundamental in Asia where 95 per cent of the people are not Christian.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Inter-faith dialogue “has to be an urgent priority for the Church,” above all “since the Second Vatican Council earnest efforts have been made by the Episcopal conferences.” This is true especially in Asia where 95 per cent of the population is not Christian, but where the “Church plays a fundamental role in the areas of health care and education,” said Mgr Thomas Dabre, bishop of Vasai, who yesterday was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious by Benedict XVI.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop Dabre said that the Pope made it a “key principle of his pontificate” as clearly demonstrated in his famous lectio magistralis in Regensburg. His “speech was a clarion call for dialogue between religions and faith on the one hand and reason and science on the other.

For the Pope, “Western intellectuals [. . .] should be open to other civilizations and the societies who believe in God.” In turn, “[r]eligion must be open to reason and reason must be open to faith. Religion must be reasonable and reason must be open to faith.”

Instead, “[s]ome in the West have exclusively emphasised the role of reason, science and technology neglecting the positive contribution that religions and faith can make to humanity. In fact [in his Regensburg speech] the Pope was telling Western intellectuals that they should be open to other civilisations and the societies who believe in God.”

Benedict XVI described religion as “a fundamental ingredient for dialogue in which faith is open to science and science to faith. Unfortunately some did not correctly understand the intention of the author (the Pope) and its great meaning.”

Yet, the Pope’s visit to Turkey was proof of its effectiveness. A pontiff visited a Muslim place of worship in “a spirit of openness and respect” with positive results.

Interfaith dialogue is very important from the perspective of globalisation since it places all confessions on a same level with the same challenges like materialism, “hedonism, profit making and earthly prosperity. The needs of the soul are not in focus in the globalisation of today” and this harms everyone. “Religions can work together to solve these problems which often cause violence and tensions.”

Lastly according to Bishop Dabre, to live in peace we are called to collaborate and engage in dialogue. “A spiritual guide, of whatever religion, must understand the value of introspection, ask questions and offer answers. Only this way can we reach true peace, which rests on recognising that God is the author of man’s dignity.”

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