On the occasion of the Annual General Meeting, Monsignor Peter Jeffrey offered reflections on the nature of interfaith activity along with collaboration and cooperation amongst the religions, in the light of the recent event at Assisi, wherein representatives of many of the worlds religions met to pray and further the cause of world peace.
Inter-religious dialogue is a precious vehicle for understanding and renewal. As a Goulburn Valley inter-faith network we are committed to respectful dialogue with our different traditions.
We are committed to offering mutual support when local issues require or would benefit from joint action. Over the years we have been responding to issues effecting communities in the places of origin of migrant groups who have settled in Shepparton and the neighbouring areas.
It is especially by promoting mutual understanding that we have been intentional and serious in our attempts to strengthen the good relations that currently exist between the communities in the Shepparton district. Respectful dialogue builds mutual bonds and fosters the relationships that often become the ground on which further bonding and joint projects can occur.
Now that we have a structured charter and have become an incorporated body, we can plan for future events and co-ordinate these through our Network meetings.
Internationally a significant recent Inter-faith event was the gathering of religious leaders in Assist, the home town of St. Francis, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Day of Prayer for Peace convened by John Paul II. It has been hailed as an event without precedent The reason is that "the event was a visible illustration, a concrete example intelligible to all of what is presupposed and signified by commitment to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue".
Participants at Assisi did what we have been doing in our gatherings. It is about coming together in order to pray. It is about being present and respectfully listening to people praying in their different traditions for a common cause - viz, fostering peace and recognising that we are all called to make our contribution to the birth of a world that is more human, more just and more fraternal.
At this gathering on the 2nd of October, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
"We need the poverty of silence if we are to hear what the other says; and we need the poverty of recognizing that the other has as gift that we need if we are to be changed by the encounter".
Religious Leaders from the World's Religions walking at Assisi
with Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams
Source: Monsignor Peter Jeffrey
Photo Credit: World Interfaith News Network