Feb 1, 2007 / 09:12 am
The publication of an international journal in the United States to support small Christian communities living in predominantly Muslim countries was recently launched at the United Nations with a panel of religious experts from Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism.
Oasis was launched in the context of a panel discussion with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders on interreligious relations in the library of the United Nation on Jan. 17. The magazine also seeks to educate Western Christians about Islam through the experiences of their Eastern counterparts.
Participants on the panel included Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice; Seyyid Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University; and Rabbi Israel Singer, head of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Dialogue. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson moderated the panel discussion.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations, hosted the event; about 200 people attended.
“If man is made in the image of the God who is love, can and should all men join together in constructing what John Paul II described so often as a ‘civilization of love’?” Anderson offered.
Nasr said the issue “was critical to human existence.” He admitted to being less than optimistic about what dialogue can achieve in light of current world events. Civilizations, he noted, go through cycles of peace and cycles of violence and it is important to understand the causes of these cycles. Rather than vying for political superiority, cultures and nations should “vie with each other in goodness,” he said.
Rabbi Singer praised the work done by the Second Vatican Council in furthering relations between Jews and Christians. That model should be applied today for interreligious dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims today, he suggested. The commitment by Pope John Paul II to this issue “changed history radically,” he said.
The rabbi added that religious believers should not let extremists “hijack” their faith. He praised the grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, who has made what Singer called “revolutionary” statements denouncing fundamentalist Islam and its followers.
Cardinal Scola said proposed that what is happening today is the “hybridization” of civilizations and cultures. He urged religious people to build up society by their testimony as believers. Every man and woman, he said, must become personally involved and trust that advances can be made through dialogue or through encounters with others whose beliefs or culture are different.