Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique ● Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
Via della Conciliazione 5 (Piano 4)
00193 Rome ITALY
June 4, 2014, 9:30-13:00
On June 4, 2014, eight representatives of DIMMID met with the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Rev. Fr. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ, the Undersecretary, Rev. Fr. Indunil J. Kodithuwakku K., and five members of the PCID staff: Rev. Fr. Michael Santiago (Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism), Rev. Msgr. Lucio Sembrano, (Pro Dialogo), Rev. Fr. Markus Solo, S.V.D. (Islam in South, South-East Asia and Oceania), Rev. Fr. Michael Weninger, (Islam in Europe, Central Asia, Central and South America), and Dr. Maria Laura Marazzi (New Religious Movements and Sects). His Eminence, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the PCID, was planning to attend, but was prevented from doing so because his travel plans had been disrupted. The meeting was called to provide DIMMID with an opportunity to inform the PCID of its particular approach to interreligious dialogue and its activities, and to discuss how DIMMID and PCID might collaborate more closely in the Church’s ministry of interreligious dialogue.
The meeting, which Father Kodithuwakku first proposed to the Secretary General of DIMMID last October, opened with the singing of the Veni, creator Spiritus. Father Ayuso then welcomed the monastic delegation, recalling the role the PCID played in the creation of DIMMID and the ways in which DIMMID has collaborated with the PCID in the past. He concluded by saying,
Today’s meeting is an occasion to show our gratitude and respect for our predecessors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, read the signs of the time, and courageously, selflessly and tirelessly dedicated their lives to the mission of promoting monastic interreligious dialogue. May the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of mission, stimulate and re-energize all of us today to engage with the monks and nuns of other religions with a fresh zeal and urgency in order to promote world peace through inner peace.
Following Father Ayuso’s introduction, reports were given on the activities and programs of DIMMID in Europe and North America. Father Pierre de Béthune also reported on the meeting of the Belgian organization “Voies de l’orient,” which had just taken place in Brussels and in which most of the DIMMID delegation had participated. The topic of that conference was intra-religious dialogue, that is to say, dialogue at the level of religious experience and practice, the form of interreligious dialogue that is proper to monastic interreligious dialogue.
Following a break there was a report by the Secretary General on the structure of DIMMID (making special note of the fact that there were also commissions for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in India/Sri Lanka and Australia), and on three activities sponsored and arranged by the General Secretariat: the journal of DIMMID, Dilatato Corde; on-going dialogue with Iranian Shi’a Muslims; and the documentary film on Monastic Interreligious Dialogue that is being made to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra ætate next year.
Ample time was left for questions and discussion. One of the principal concerns expressed by Father Ayuso and the other members of the PCID who were present for the meeting—a concern also expressed in the Council’s recently published document Dialogue in Truth and Charity—is that “’interreligious prayer,’ meaning the joining together in common prayer by followers of various religions, is to be avoided” (82). It is perfectly appropriate, however, to express our respect for the attitude of others before the Divinity by assisting “with a respectful attitude, both interior and exterior” (83).
In his concluding remarks, Father Ayuso emphasized that interreligious dialogue should be marked by friendship, respect, and transparency, noting that monastic interreligious dialogue is a particularly strong witness to the monastic charism of hospitality. “Work to create spaces where we can live together without agenda. This is what Pope Francis wants,” he said. He concluded by noting that “Friendship has to be at the core of our relationship to people of other religious traditions. It is there that we meet God.”
The meeting closed with the singing of the “Regina cœli.” We were then invited to lunch at the near-by Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, where we were able to prolong the cordial and mutually enriching exchanges that characterized the more formal part of our time together.
 The representatives from DIMMID were Brother Daniel Pont, O.S.B., President of the Board of Directors and Coordinator of the European sub-commissions of DIMMID, Brother Matteo Nicolini-Zani, Secretary of the Board and coordinator of the Italian sub-commission, Father William Skudlarek, O.S.B., Secretary General, Father Jean-Pierre Longeat, O.S.B., President of A.I.M. and ex officio member of the board, Father Michael Peterson, O.S.B., President of the North American commission of DIMMID and ex officio member of the board, Father Pierre de Béthune, O.S.B., and Sister GilChrist Lavigne, elected members of the board, and Sister Marie Pinlou, O.S.B., coordinator of the French sub-commission.