INTERFAITH NEWS FROM 2010.....

 

RELIGIONS IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

 

Thirty women gathered in Bethlehem on 13-18 December to celebrate the first anniversary of the “Kairos Palestine” document on the quest for peace and human rights in Palestine and Israel.  Read Message from the  meeting.

The outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 Nov to 10 Dec 2010, is the most significant since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed 13 years ago. As representatives of almost 200 nations agreed on an initial plan aimed at combating climate change, faith leaders offered ethical contributions to the international negotiations and highlighted the need for greater awareness raising at the grassroots level, social mobilization and advocacy for climate justice. Read WCC report here.

Sisters in Islam, a prominent Malaysian women's group, has won a court case over religious activists critical of the group's opinions on women's rights.

Current discourse on religion and ethics is primarily defined by established leaders—ministers, rabbis, academics and journalists. But now a new forum, State of Formation, has been created  to facilitate conversation between those who will be the religious and moral leaders of tomorrow. Read more

The University of Notre Dame in New York in November launched a major new initiative called “Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim and Secular” in line with Pope Benedict XVI’s argument that Christian-Muslim relations in the early 21st century should pivot on the common challenge of situating themselves vis-à-vis secular modernity. Read more here. See website

If inter-religious dialogues are to be authentic, they must also work together to face up to the challenges that classic world religions face in today’s globalized world of technology, finance, trade, and other cultural and secular forces, said distinguished Catholic theologian  Prof. Gergory Baum in a recent lecture at Georgetown University, Washington. Read more here

A documentary The Garden at the End of the World (http://www.thegardenattheendoftheworld.info/), directed by Australian Gary Caganof and featuring the cooperative work of Quaker Rosemary Morrow and Muslim Mahboba Rawi in Afghanistan, has won the 2010 SIGNIS-WACC Human Rights Award. Read more here

In his maiden speech Mr Ed Husic, Australia’s first Muslim to be elected to Federal  Parliament, spoke of the positive value of multiculturalism. Earlier, he was the first MP be sworn in with his hand on the Koran

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster; the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Great Britain in a joint statement have called for the release of the seven Baha'i leaders serving prison sentences in Iran. Read more 

Jewish settlers have given new copies of the Koran to Palestinians in the West Bank village of Beit Fajjar where Korans were burnt in a mosque attack.

An interfaith panel has called for Gaza to be freed from the prison of territorial isolation in United Nations Advocacy Week (UNAW) organized by the World Council of Churches.

A new inter-religious partnership for health organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) with Religions for Peace and the UN Millennium Campaign, will be launched at the UN Millennium Development Goals Review Summit in New York, 20-22 September to begin a five year effort to promote women’s and children’s health in various countries. Read more

The low profile taken by American religious leaders in the controversy over plans to build an Islamic community centre and mosque a few blocks from ground zero in New York is seen as working to the advantage of those who would recruit potential terrorists. Read more

Religious leaders in Indonesia are worried about their Government's failure to protect rights. Read more. The Islamic organization Muhammadiyah has also expressed regret regarding the attack on Christians.

Jewish and Christian leaders have met in Sydney to heal the wounds caused by a call made in July by the National Council of Churches in Australia for a boycott of goods produced by Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Read more here. See NCCA Forum statement. See reflection by Rev. Paul Weaver.

Muslim advocacy groups and evangelical Christian organizations alike have condemned the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, for its plans to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a day for burning Islam's holy book. Reports in Jakarta Post, The Rawstory, and statement by Dr William Vendley, General Secretary of Religions for Peace.

As political controversy swirls around plans for an Islamic community centre and mosque near the site of the World Trade Centre, New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg, surrounded by religious leaders from the city, has delivered a moving and powerful rebuke to its opponents, saying: "Muslims are as much a part of our city and our country as the people of any faith". 

Muslim and Christian leaders in Nigeria have re-affirmed the importance of Muslim-Christian cooperation in peace-making. Read more

A Liberal Party candidate has been dumped as the party’s candidate for the safe Labor seat of Chifley in Sydney’s west after making controversial statements about Muslims. Read more   

After the shooting and killing of two young Christians in Faisalabad on 19 July 2010, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, in letters to Pakistan's president and its prime minister, expressed concern about the abuse of the Blasphemy Law and called for the government of Pakistan to “guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in the country”. Read WCC press releases, letter to president and prime minister, full text of WCC Statement.

Parliament’s lower house in France voted 335:1 in the 557-seat National Assembly on 13 July to ban any type of veil by which the face is not clearly visible, including the burqa - a type of veil worn by a small number of Muslim women to cover the face and full body.  Even as critics argue that it breaches French and European human rights legislation, the step is expected to go before the French Senate which will vote on the proposed law around 20 September. Find an outline of the socio-political history of the debate here and some arguments for and against here

Poverty, the environment and disarmament for a sustainable peace were cited as main priorities by religious leaders meeting before the G20 in Canada on 21-22 June 2010. Read more

The launch of Spiritual Care Australia (SCA), an interfaith and professional group for practitioners in chaplaincy, pastoral care and spiritual services, took place in NSW Parliament House on 21 June. Read report by Barbara Hall in the Greater Southern Area Health Service Bulletin, July 2010. 

Jacqueline Moturi Ogega, Director, Women's Program at the World Conference of Religions for Peace discusses women’s role in peacebuilding, reconciliation and healing. More here

Egyptian women defend their rights in a debate over women judges, following the recent decision by the State Council general assembly not to allow women judges to sit on the State Council.  Read more

Buddhist, Catholic, Confucian, Hindu, Muslim and Protestant leaders in Indonesia launched the Interfaith Action for Justice and Poverty Eradication on 20 May 2010 in Central Jakarta. Read more here

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed a Turkish government decree ordering local officials "to do more to protect the rights of Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities". Read more here

Religious leaders from around the world gathered at the 2010 World Religions Summit in Winnipeg June 21-23  to urge the richest nations to boost their efforts to address poverty, climate change and conflict. Read more

Religions for Peace and UNICEF jointly released on 18 May 2010 From Commitment to Action: What Religious Communities can do to Eliminate Violence against Children, a guide to help religious communities to harness their spiritual, moral and social strengths to prevent, respond to and eliminate violence against children.

Members of a World Council of Churches delegation were among nearly 200 governments, 121 NGOs and thousands of demonstrators in New York for a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference which began Monday, 3 May and ended 28 May. Read this WCC report

When the Indonesian high court voted 8-1 to uphold the country’s 1965 blasphemy law, Maria Farida Indrati, the only woman on the Constitutional Court, stated in her dissenting opinion that the blasphemy law fell short in many areas related to human rights. Read more

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has participated in the first-ever Summit of High Level Religious Leaders on HIV and AIDS held in Den Dolder, Netherlands, from 22-23 March 2010. It aimed to generate greater involvement from religious leaders of many of the world’s faiths in the global response to the pandemic. See press release

Representatives from more than 105 countries participated in the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting (SNAMMM) on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Manila from 16-18 March 2010. Read more. See blog of the Social  Communication Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

Australian religious leaders have written a letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott expressing disappointment over the outcome of the recent Copenhagen climate negotiations. As members of ARRCC, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, they are asking for bold and visionary leadership on the issue of climate change. See also report of meeting with Penny Wong (Nov 2009). Click here

INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

 

Pope Benedict XVI has denounced attacks against Christians around the world. Now the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, and members of the Islamic Research Academy, whose views can be recognized as reflecting those of the Egyptian government, have decided to suspend their dialogue with the Vatican.

Hospitality’ was the theme of two December interfaith happenings in Sydney. Muslims hosted an interfaith evening of dialogue and understanding on a cruise ship symbolizing Noah’s Ark which meandered around Sydney harbour, and Christians welcomed their Muslim friends at several Christmas church services. Read the Affinity newsletter here.  

Pope Benedict XVI has announced a gathering of religious leaders next October in Assisi to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic interfaith prayer meeting held by John Paul II in October 1986. Read more

Following the New Year’s Day slaughter of 23 Christians attending church in Alexandria, Shaykh Ali Gomaa,  Grand Mufti of Egypt has expressed his “sadness and outrage.” Thousands of Muslims came to Coptic Christmas eve services in churches in Egypt on 8 January, offering their bodies as “human shields” to protect Christians from extremists, and making a pledge to promote an Egypt free from sectarian strife. Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera, provides a political analysis.

Christians and Buddhists meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand have reflected on the current global financial crisis in their closing statement “A Buddhist-Christian Common Word on Structural Greed.” The consultation was co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.  Read more here 

Sudanese Christian and Muslim leaders from the member churches of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and the Southern Sudan Muslim Council (SSMC)  have called for peace and an end to religious stereotypes in the lead up to the referendum scheduled for January 2011. Read more

In October 2010 the continuing importance of interreligious dialogue in peace-making was highlighted by remarks made by H.E. Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US, at a reception he hosted for Religions for Peace (read more here), and in December King Abdullah of Jordan addressed the European People’s Party summit in Brussels which endorsed a Declaration on Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue (read more here)  

A four day Christian-Muslim consultation organized on the theme ‘Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslims Building a Common Future’ under the leadership of the Consortium of A Common Word, the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute of Jordan, the World Islamic Call Society based in Libya and the World Council of Churches (WCC) has taken place in Geneva.  Read Final Statement here. View website

Muslims and Christians meeting in Geneva have condemned the attack on the Church of Our Lady of Najat in Baghdad.

Tony Blair, in a speech at the Beijing Forum, China in November 2010 has proposed 7 practical ways to advance inter-religious harmony

The international interfaith organisation Religions for Peace has expressed solidarity with both Christians and Muslims affected by the recent violence in Iraq.

The National Council of Churches in Australia has called for support for Iraqi Christians.

The Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities in Sydney's southeast have joined forces to seek more space for burial plots. Read more

A proposal to expand Islamic banking in Australia has met with opposition. But the Vatican has affirmed the ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based.

“Transforming Communities,” a meeting of Global Muslim and Christian leaders, has called for the mobilisation of a joint crisis group to act whenever a crisis threatens Christian-Muslim relations.

Three women have addressed the Middle East Synod of Bishops, and the inclusion of Muslims, a Jew and women in the Synod has been welcomed by Hindus.

For the first time a Jewish leader and representatives of both the Sunni and Shi’ite branches of Islam will address the Vatican’s Special Assembly for the Middle East Synod of Bishops, 10-24 October 2010 in Rome. Read more here. Fourteen women (three experts and eleven auditors) are among the 86 participants appointed by the Vatican. Read the speeches of Rabbi David Rosen (Jewish), Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi (Shi'a Muslim) and Dr Muhammad Al-Sammak (Sunni Muslim),special invited guests. Some of the differing perspectives can be seen in the reports on the Synod by Samir Khalil Samir and Lisa Palmieri  

An interfaith retreat in Melbourne has given young Christians and Muslims the chance to learn about each other's faiths. Read more

During his September 2010 visit to the UK Pope Benedict XVI met with religious leaders affirming that believers of all faiths have an important mission to witness to the fact that “a human being is a fundamentally spiritual being.” Read text here

Both the Vatican and  the World Council of Churches have sent greetings to Muslim leaders and communities on the occasion of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr on 10 Septemberwhich concludes  the month of Ramadan.

Raimon Panikkar, 'apostle of inter-faith dialogue,' has died in Spain aged 91. Read more

Dr Marianne Dacy, a Sister of Sion and secretary of the Australian Council of Christians and Jew, reports on the 2010 International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) Conference in Istanbul, Turkey (20-23 June). Her latest book The Separation of Early Christianity from Judaism is now available.

Jewish groups have welcomed the appointment of Bishop Kurt Koch as the new head of the Vatican office for Jewish relations and have paid tribute to his predecessor Cardinal Kasper.

One hundred world figures of different faiths and backgrounds from 30 countries are to join the biennial forum jointly organized by Muhammadiyah and the Center for Dialogs and Cooperation in Yogjakarta on 7 July. Read more

An ISE-CONCILIUM SYMPOSIUM “From World Mission to Interreligious Witness: Visioning Ecumenics in the 21st Century”, took place at Trinity College Dublin, 16-18 June, celebrating 1910-2010 century of ecumenism. Keynote speakers included Robert Shreiter (Chicago), Linda Hogan (Dublin), Ina Merdjanova (Sofia), Ataullah Siddiqui (Leicester), John D’Arcy May (Dublin). See program. Read report here

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, a Co-President of the Religions for Peace World Council, has chaired the ninth Building Bridges Seminar in Washington D.C. titled "Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Tradition and Modernity" 25-27 May 2010. The annual seminar brings together leading Muslim and Christian scholars from around the world to explore issues at the heart of the two traditions. More information here

Religious leaders from 32 countries meeting at an Interfaith Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan in April have condemned terrorism. Read Religions for Peace press release   A full text of the Baku Statement  may be found here

Pope Benedict disappoints Hindus during his Malta visit.

A major new teaching document entitled “Meeting God in Friend and Stranger” was launched in April  2010 by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. It outlines how essential for Catholicism is dialogue with other faiths. Read more here and a further comment by Michael Barnes SJ. Download document

Fr Raneiro Cantalamessa, speaking before Pope Benedict at a Good Friday service, compared the world’s outrage at sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to the persecution of the Jews, prompting angry responses from victims’ advocates and consternation from Jewish groups. A Vatican spokesman later said the comparison "is absolutely not the line of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church" and Fr Cantalamessa apologised.

Muslim leaders in Egypt  have condemned the acts of violence in which six Christians and a Muslim policeman died in Naga Hamadi, Egypt and, with Christian representatives, reaffirmed the equality of rights and duties of all citizens, regardless of their religious membership. Read report here

On 25 March Lebanon’s government launched a joint Christian-Muslim celebration in honour of Mary who is venerated in both communities. In the square in front of Lebanon’s National Museum a statue of Our Lady will be erected surrounded by a crescent. Read a report from Religions for Peace.

Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of the global multi-religious coalition Religions for Peace has called for partnerships between governments and religious bodies to stop war, fight poverty, and protect the earth.  He was speaking at the first Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial (NAM) Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development held on 16-18 March 2010 in Manila, the Philippines. Read speech here

NSW State Premier Kristina Keneally hosted a Reception for the members of the Women's Interfaith Network at Parliament House on 10 March 2010. The full text of her speech may be found here. View photo.

Cardinal Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, affirms that Catholics should not fear Islam, but rather should welcome the chance for deepening their faith through interchange with Muslims. He was speaking at a congress on “Christianity, Islam and Modernity” on 10 February in Granada. Read a report here

Quranic scholar Amina Wadud visited Sydney in February 2010. Her program included a Public Lecture at the University of Technology Sydney and a meeting with the Women’s Interfaith Network in NSW Parliament House. Sarah Malik reports..... Read a transcript of her interview with Rachael Kohn on The Spirit of Things.

In an encounter marked by mutual honesty and respect, Benedict XVI has met with officials at the Rome synagogue 24 years after the first historic visit by John Paul II. Read an account here and the pope's speech.

U.S. and Canadian Muslim leaders have issued a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning Islamic extremist attacks. Sheila Musaji,  founder and editor of The American Muslim, a quarterly journal (1989-1995) and online publication (since 2001) provides evidence to dispute the view that Muslims are silent about terrorism.

Al Jazeera news has reported (8 January and 10 January 2010) on attacks on Christian Churches in Malaysia. Muslims in Malaysia have moved swiftly to condemn the attacks, including Opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim and Marina Mahathir, a board member of the Sisters in Islam organization and the daughter of the former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. Read statement issued by Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Jewish-Catholic relations are under close scrutiny again. The pope is to visit the Roman synagogue on 17 January 2010. However, the Vatican move to declare Pius XII a saint along with John Paul II , has caused anger among Jewish leaders and drawn criticism from an Australian rabbi. At the grass roots, however, Catholics and Jews continue to foster good relations. After the event views differed on Vatican-Israel meeting. Read here

The 2009 World Parliament of Religions took place in Melbourne 3-9 December. For more information click here Some Dominicans who participated were Kathleen Murphy, Trish Madigan and Armando Ibanez. More details here Topics discussed included the role of religion in preserving the environment and women breaking down conflict. Read reflections by Sue Flood osu and Rev Dr Jonathon Inkpin.

The Catholic Church’s key documents on interreligious dialogue, Nostra Aetate, Dialogue and Mission, and Dialogue and Proclamation, have been reprinted in an inexpensive, attractive and handy sized format for prayer, study and action. They are available from the Columban Mission Institute. Prices: Nostra Aetate $2.00, Dialogue and Mission $3.00, Dialogue and Proclamation $4.00, Set of All Three Booklets $7.50 (plus postage and handling, discount for bulk orders). E-Mail: cmr.cmi@columban.org.au.

The launch of Rev. Dr John Dupuche’s new books Towards a Christian Tantra: The Interplay of Christianity and Kashmir Shaivism and Vers un tantra chrétien: La rencontre du Christianisme et du Shivaïsme du Cachemire took place on 11 Nov 2009 at ACU, Fitzroy. Occasional address by Professor John May, Senior Research Fellow, Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin.

Journées Romaines Dominicaines, a meeting of Dominican men and women engaged in interfaith ministry, was held in Rome 27 August-1 September 2009. Read report JOURNEES_ROMAINES. For more information click here

The Uniting Church in Australia has launched a new Interfaith Website packed with information about interfaith relations in Australia and resources.