Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Small Effective Approach to Dialogue between Catholicism & Islam.

Last Saturday, the eve of Advent Sunday, we held an Advent Dinner for our friends of the Turquoise Harmony Institute at Holy Trinity.

The Institute is a Turkish Muslim Organisation that works for interfaith harmony in line with the teachings of Fethullah Gullen and for the last three years they have provided an Iftar Meal during Ramadan for the church.  We had often wondered how to reciprocate and an Advent Dinner is the result.

They came to the 17,30 Mass, had a tour of the church and then there was a brief explanation of what Advent is all about.
After the dinner, which was excellent, the Imam gave a presentation on 'Mary in the Islamic Tradition' and one of our laypeople gave a presentation on 'Mary in the Catholic Tradition'.  The evening was very successful as we have really become good friends.  The discussion at the tables was very good as we see Mary as the bridge between us as these representations of Our Lady in Catholic and in Muslim art show us.

I have been fortunate in having a long personal relationship, over at least 10 years, with the Institute through my former position at the SABC but this is the first time I have attended one of the events at my own church despite initiating their contacts with various religious bodies when they first arrived in South Africa.

It has really only been the Catholic Church that has encouraged contact, not just through the Jesuits but through the Emeritus Bishop of Pretoria, George Daniel.  I am sure that this is because, as Catholics, we are secure in our faith in the same way that the Turquoise Harmony Institute is.  Therefore we have an excellent interfaith relationship as neither feels threatened by the other.  I am sure that is the key to successful interfaith and inter-Christian dialogue.

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