Meeting God in Friend and Stranger
address by Archbishop Kevin MacDonald
at St Ambrose Preparatory School Hall
on 25 Jan 2011.
The hall was packed to hear the Archbishop discuss a new document from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on Interfaith dialogue, entitled “Meeting God in Friend and Stranger;” Bishop Doye Agama was also in attendance as were several members of the AIG. The publication of this document marks a significant shift in the attitude of the Catholic Church to interfaith dialogue, and is to be warmly welcomed by all those working to improve interfaith relationships in Britain.
The archbishop talked at length on the importance of dialogue as a frame of mind, a way of engaging with other people, and how it was fundamental to peace in the world. He stressed that you do not have to lose commitment to your own faith to engage in dialogue with others, for common values will emerge, and dialogue can dismiss ignorance and fear. The fact that we live in a multicultural society means we can relate positively to one another, and “the Holy Spirit is active in the lives of people of other faiths.“ The Archbishop talked about four aspects of dialogue – one that involves day to day living with people of other faiths, theological exchange and common ground in the scriptures, spirituality and the sharing of divine love and finally dialogue in relation to practical aspects of life. He stressed that dialogue would help us to move towards peace. As Hans Kung writes: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.”
I greet the publication of this document with great hope and consider it a significant stride forward in developing outreach by the Catholic Church in our multicultural society, while representatives of the Jewish community are comforted by the fact that the Vatican recognises that God’s covenant with the Jewish people has not been abrogated.
(Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel and
Hon. Sec. Altrincham Interfaith Group )