Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 60 – January 2009

From Brother Daniel's Diary (5)

On 1st May 1988 Westminster Interfaith organised a multifaith celebration at the Westminster Cathedral Hall with the theme "Light and Life— The Lamps are Many but the Light is One". Many Faith groups contributed items. Cardinal Basil Hume hosted the event and addressed the group. Br Daniel has a copy of the address pasted in his diary. Because of its enduring significance today I reproduce it here.

Dear Friends,

That seems a proper way of greeting you all and first of all to thank you for coming here on a multifaith occasion. It is not the first time and I trust it will not be the last.

We live in a country that is multicultural, multiracial, multifaith; and it is only if we meet on occasions like this and get to know each other, that we can build a stable, happy and peaceful community, especially here. So what we are about is of the first importance.

It is very simple that there should be harmony and peace among all of us, just from one very simple fundamental consideration: we all share the same humanity. It seems absurd, does it not, that that simple truth should be one which we seem to fail to recognise so often in the way we treat each other...remembering always that the other person—whoever he or she may be, from wherever he or she may come—that other person is like me, cries, loves, is peaceful, perturbed, is anxious...but, like me, that other person is always lovable; there is nobody that is not lovable. The art of living from one point of view—is to discover that which is lovable in the other person.

The other person is always somebody who in some respect is superior to me. It is important to recognise that every person with whom I come into contact is in some way my superior, has something that I have not got, can do something which I cannot do, has a skill which I do not possess ... and these are the grounds of my respect for other people.

For those of us—and there are many here—who treasure the Bible, pause often, or should do so, just to reflect upon the words which come at the beginning of our Bible...The Book of Genesis says that we are made in the image and likeness of God. For our Jewish friends, for all Christians, that is a truth which is of deep and profound significance. That is part of our teaching, part of our common heritage; and of course we recognise in ALL peoples the image and likeness of God. So when I discover what is lovable in other people, I've discovered some aspect of the loveableness of God.

So it is so important that we should LEARN from each other about what we believe, that we should hold dear, our traditions; learn about things in order to understand, and by understanding to show sympathy, and by sympathising with each other to learn to live in peace.

I must learn about you. We cannot live in a multiracial, multifaith, multicultural society unless we take trouble to learn from each other.

I would also want you to learn from me, especially about the central Christian truth which is for us the person of Jesus Christ. I proclaim and profess him as you would expect me to do as a Christian bishop. But in professing my faith, at the same time I affirm my great respect and my great love for all of you.

I end as I began...thank you for coming here and I hope to see you all again on another occasion. Thank you"

The Cardinal wrote to Br Daniel saying : "Send it (my address) to Rome. I know they are interested in what we are doing here". Br Daniel comments: "It is so much of help to know that the hierarchy is behind you" and down the page he again writes: "Interest by clergy is one of the essential supports for interfaith workers."

Br Daniel did write to Rome. Look out in the next issue for a reply from Rome and Br Daniel's comments.

Alfred Agius

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