11/14/2006, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Rediscovering the spirituality of Islam and Christianity in Zamboanga

For Father D'Ambra, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, peace and coexistence can be reached only by returning to the spiritual values of both religions. Five days of meetings and reflections as well as a memorial for Bishop Tudtud, a pioneer in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – Understanding the "Spirituality of Christianity and of Islam" I order to draw some important lessons for the "dialogue between cultures" are among the main goals of a national inter-faith symposium between Christians and Muslims that will start tomorrow in Zamboanga, southern Philippines, and last till the 19.

The meeting is taking place through the joint efforts of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, led by Fr Sebastiano D'Ambra from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the Islamic Institute of the University of the Philippines–Diliman and the Institute of Spirituality in Asia.

In the five-day conference major experts on religion from the Philippines and abroad will discuss how peace and spirituality are the only paths towards peace and development. Study groups and the screening of 'Bagong Buwan', a movie by director and Silsilah's member Marilou Diaz-Abaya's are also on the menu. The conference will end with a 'Night of Solidarity' during which the late Bishop Bienvenido S. Tudtud, a pioneer in inter-faith dialogue, will be remembered.

Fr D'Ambra told AsiaNews that "dialogue presupposes a culture that respects others. This respect implies a willingness to accept outside influences that can enrich oneself, words that belong to the late Bishop Bienvenido S. Tudtud, who was among the first to work in favour of inter-faith dialogue between Christians and Muslims".

"Dialogue, in an atmosphere of respect and openness," the missionary said, "not only produces peace but can also reinforce people's faith and enrich one another's culture. Understanding this should be encouraged not only at a human but also at the academic and theological levels as a spiritual experience".

For Father D'Ambra, "there are more and more conflicts that worry people who do not turn their thoughts towards the elements of peace that lead to God. We must understand again at a deeper level because we must work together for peace. Understanding better God's mysterious plan for humanity and the spirituality of each others' religion is essential to any process of personal and social transformation".

"With this symposium," he explained, there is "an opportunity for mutual enrichment through the 'exchange of treasures' from both religious traditions".

"I hope that participants will give their humble but truthful contribution, through their reflections, against the background of a world affected by violence and materialism, where the more egoistic features of globalization are endangering the spiritual values of humanity and their religious traditions."

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