January 18 – FURTHERING THE CAUSE OF RELIGIOUS UNITY
FURTHERING THE CAUSE OF RELIGIOUS UNITY
Many of our Brothers are furthering the cause of religious unity not just for a week but all through the year. Some do so among Christians of different denominations, e.g. Catholics and Methodists at Nuku’ Alofa (Tonga), Baptists and Catholics at Baghty (Nagaland, India), but mostly among followers of the world religions. The spirit of Assisi, manifest in 1986 when Pope John Paul II called a meeting of representatives of religions throughout the world, is spreading in the Institute.
At the end of the 20th century most educational establishments in Asia and Africa take in non-Catholic pupils: Buddhists in Thailand, Hindus in India, Muslims in Senegal. They not only tolerate but enrich each other with different values.
Some Brothers, who . used to know very little about the dominant .religio·n in a country, are working towards religious inculturation. In Senegal Br. Rene Merceron (1938-1992) chose to write his dissertation for his degree in theology on the Senegalese Muslim confraternity called the mourides and on its mystical founder Amadou Bamba. In Tamilnadu Br. Stephen interrupted his professional activities to study the non Christian religions for a year and concluded his studies in a Christian ashram. In Bihar Br. C.M. Joseph decided to live with the poor tribal people; he lived first in a Muslim’s house and continued to work with people of all religious denominations.
In Brazzaville (Congo) Br. Marie-Andre Nganga animated for ten years prayer groups bringing together around Christ Catholics, Evangelists, members of the Salvation Army and Kimbanguists.
In Thies (Senegal) the Christian schoolchildren make it a practice to send their good wishes to their Muslim schoolmates on the occasion of their Muslim feasts. This was improved upon on 25 March 1999 when a full hour was devoted in each Class to a presentation of the two religions by a Muslim pupil and a Catholic pupil.
In Europe the best-known example is the Westminster Inteifaith Association in which Br. Daniel Faivre has worked from 1982 to 1997. His mission was to promote dialogue between men and women of different faiths, especially those with followers in Southall (West London) where he himself lives: Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians. He has published several books, for example: Prayer of Hope of an Interfaith man, Scriptures and Traditions on Holy Births in many Faiths, Celebrating Jesus, a multifaith appreciation.