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Christian With Muslim Religous Dialogue

by Leo Hura

From the Small Claims Courts blog of Leo Hura.

Leo Hura
Muslim Religious Leaders outlined a basis for dialogue by presenting examples of sacred writing in both faiths about a shared belief in One God and Love thy Neighbor. They urge meaningful dialogue leading to practical steps towards reconciliation.  I’ve written about the document before. As Religious Leaders prepare for a November summit we continue to ask whether there is a role for mediators in this process?

 

One hypothesis I recently heard, in no uncertain terms is, we don’t need “neutrals”, besides, why should we even listen to you as we have experience in ecumenical dialogue and have done just fine?  Does this sound all too familiar to the mediation community?

 

In previous blog entries I have strongly suggested the use of mediators.  I argued for the parties to tap mediator skills.  I highlighted a few problems which are unique to religious dialogue, not the least of which are, seemingly irreconcilable differences in “doctrine” or for Catholics, “dogma.”  If we think the law is sometimes an a_ _ then imagine the challenges inherent to negotiations over religious doctrines.    

 

Here’s an update of events:

 

  • Meeting with a part of the religious leadership in my home state.  I had an opportunity to meet with an interdenominational group of leaders in Hawaii which unfortunately did not include Catholic, Muslim, or Jewish leadership.  In short they opined:
    • Mediators not needed here, direct dialogue does just fine.
    • What are your qualifications and why should we listen to you?
    • Thank you for the information as we were not aware of the Muslim to Christian Religious leader’s letter you cite.
    • Perhaps you should contact the group working on ecumenical dialogue.
    • Perhaps the Catholics are a good place to start as they numerically represent about half of the world’s Christian population.
  • Catholics propose and Muslims accept a meeting between the Pope and a select group of Muslim religious leaders.    In his invitation to the Muslims for a meeting the Pope pointed out a number of omissions from the Muslim letter of October 2007 of concerns he raised but nonetheless proceeded to invite a select group of Muslim leaders to meet with him and to set up a working group.  In response the Muslims agreed to the meeting but agreed in their response, complete reconciliation was not realistically possible.  Rather they opined common ground should be found upon which practical steps could be taken.  Perhaps the best which can be accomplished is coexistence.
  • I wrote to the US Papal Nuncio about my ideas and he responded by saying they were forwarded to the experts at the Vatican.
  • The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, who has been an active proponent of interreligious dialogue suffered two setbacks.  In one, a conference of inter-religious dialogue planned for Malaysia was cancelled at the last minute and the archbishop made statements acknowledging a possibility of having to somehow incorporate Sharia law into the judicial system meant to be inclusive and his suggestions backfired. 
  • In a letter from the American council of Bishops my ideas are acknowledged with a proviso that change will be generational and suggest looking for dialogue on a local front which led to my request for a meeting with local religious leaders.

 

“Dear Mr. Hura, thank you for your positive comments on the Common Word statement.  You can look over the work of the USCCB on Muslim-Catholic Dialogue at www.usccb.org under Departments: Ecumenical and Interreligious, scrolling down to the various items in the interreligious portion of the site.

At the Common Word website, please note in particular the statements by Christian Troll, S.J., and by Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.   Also, an insightful analysis by the journalist Sandro Magister came out this morning at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/178461  (English version; you can also access it via www.chiesa.com) "Why Benedict XVI is So Cautious with the Letter of the 138 Muslims".

Ever since the early Muslim community began attacking the Byzantine and Persian empires, there have been many good reasons for repentance, regret, reconciliation, forgiveness, mediation and so forth.  This is not going to happen very soon, at least in human terms.  With God's help, anything is possible.  Humanly speaking, in addition to studying together and learning from one another, it would also be good to foster cultural exchanges and common efforts in the field of social service and humanitarian aid.

 Perhaps your local parish community could begin a dialogue of friendship and hospitality with the Muslim communities of Hawaii (see Diana Eck's site:  www.pluralism.org at Harvard Divinity School, which gives names and addresses of mosque communities in all 50 states).  Another approach would be to consult with the University of Hawaii for local programs. 

 

Please let me know if I can be of further help.

 

Faithfully in Christ, Fr. Francis Tiso, Associate Director, Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, USCCB.”

 

In subsequent correspondence with Fr. Tiso I asked how does one keep track of developments in this area.  He suggested:

 

Cardinal Scola's periodical, Oasis http://www.cisro.org/pages/home_en.html

PIME Father's site, http://www.aodonline.org/NR/exeres/F4336152-E6FD-4C19-A13F-2806053BEEC6.htm?NRMODE=Unpublished

Religion News http://www.religionnews.com/ (however there is a cost for articles)

 

 

Where does this people in our field? From my inquiries, regrettably, it appears like we’re somewhat left out of current activities and events at the level at which dialogue must occur, which is the leadership level.  And, as the first step is deciding on “process” our current exclusion, if that is what it is, will last for an indefinite period.  As the religious leadership “negotiators” struggle to find their way in a setting which is increasingly dominated by radicals, who with a growing number and size of bombs and all to real horror based rhetoric, can by their words and actions dominate the air waves and stifle communications about meaningful dialogue, leading to practical steps towards reconciliation.  At least religious leaders can find channel by which to separately or jointly report on developments in this area and when necessary reach out for the support our field can offer.

 



[1] Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008, Volume 87, Number 2

[2] www.foxnews.com posted 10/15/2007

[3] www.news.bbc.co.uk posted 3/05/2008

Biography


Leo Hura, Mediator -JD - Facilitator -Conflict Resolution Training Program Developer practices mediation out of Honolulu Hawaii.  An experienced mediator Leo has turned his atttention to developing training programs designed to inform, educate, and promote the use of peaceful means for avoiding, preventing, resolving conflict in business with business, business with client, and interpersonal relationships.

Leo writes extensively on his blogs, has written two booklets for clients on mediatin and small claims court claims, and numerous articels about the practice and use of colalborative means to resolve conflict. 

http://email.mediate.com/blogs/mediatewithkh



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Additional articles by Leo Hura