02/26/2014, 00.00
INDIA - USA
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American priest in India: Faith in Christ will help us find respect for other religions

by Nirmala Carvalho
Father Leo D. Lefebure, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is in India for a series of lectures . He talks about his mission, founded on relations with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. We can learn something from every belief if we give up our negative attitudes towards others.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The greatest contribution that India can give to interreligious dialogue is to promote reconciliation with Pakistan and try to resolve the situation in Kashmir". The speaker is Fr. Leo D. Lefebure, an American priest, who is touring the Asian country giving a series of lectures. A native of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Fr. Lefebure is engaged in inter-religious. He is a professor of theology at Georgetown University and is an emeritus member of the World Parliament of Religions. During his visit to India, the priest gave a lecture at Jamia Millia Islamia, the historic Islamic university in New Delhi. Here he spoke of Paul VI and the new spirit that the pope has brought to relations between Christians and Muslims. He spoke to AsiaNews about the meaning of his mission and what he has learned from dialogue with people of other religions.

Where does your passion for inter-religious dialogue come from?

My faith in Jesus Christ pushes me to pursue respectful and harmonious relations with the followers of other religious traditions. Unfortunately, many religious traditions are too often in conflict in many regions of the world today, and many Americans have negative attitudes towards other religions, particularly towards Islam. I draw my energy and my support from so many wonderful colleagues that I have met in various interfaith activities.

What would you see as India's contribution to Christian-Muslim dialogue in a global context?

The biggest contribution that India can give is to promote reconciliation with Pakistan and try to resolve the situation in Kashmir. This would have a global impact and would be a wonderful model for dialogue and inspiration for others.

What have you learned from dialogue with people of other religions and people who do not profess any belief in particular?

For a long time I have been involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue, in which I learned a lot about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, of the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism, the need to change Christians' attitudes towards the Jews and Judaism.  Any changes in this relationship have important ramifications for all other forms of interreligious dialogue. I learned so much about meditation from Buddhism, which has greatly enriched my life as a Catholic. Right now I am involved in "Vaishnava - Christian" dialogue and I am learning more about this strand of the Hindu tradition. I have never been involved in a formal dialogue with people who do not belong to any specific religion, but I learned a lot from the writings of intellectuals who are non-believers.

 

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