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

Happy New Year & Gong Xi Fa Cai! 4707.

We wish you peace and joy throughout the year.

Many thanks to all who have sent us seasons greetings and messages of support, encouragement and affirmation as well as the many subscriptions and donations we have received and are still coming in. In fact, we thank you all for your constant support and dedication to the cause of interreligious dialogue. We apologise for any oversights, omissions, misrepresentations or mistakes we may have made, especially when we have failed, on occasions, probably too often, to recognise and thank people, personally or publicly, for their selfless dedication and valuable service to the cause of interreligious dialogue. We shall endeavour to be more vigilant and respectful in future.

This year has already started badly with the conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza strip. Let us hope that a new process towards a lasting peace can be negotiated with the arrival of the new president of the United States, Barack Obama. We wish him well. Indeed, we hope and pray that all efforts towards peace, reconciliation and unity among people may prove fruitful. We look forward to the many activities, events and encounters in which we will engage with people of all faiths and none. We look forward in particular to meeting up once again on the 24th annual multi-faith Pilgrimage for Peace on Saturday 6th June this year.

Exactly one year ago, I started 'shadowing' Alfred Agius in order to become familiar with the work of Westminster Interfaith. It proved to be an exciting and rewarding experience for both of us, I think. I was particularly delighted to meet such a wonderful and supportive team, who had agreed to stay on after Alfred's departure. As I was relatively new to interreligious dialogue, I welcomed all the opportunities of meeting people of other faiths. Thanks to Alfred, I had many positive and joyful encounters. I particularly remember being greeted with such joy at a meeting in Hounslow by Ajit Singh and his wife Charanjit as if they had known me all their life. It has been the same ever since. Everywhere I went and all the people I met have offered me the same sort of respect and courtesy. We often pay lip service to the belief that we are all brothers and sisters, members of the one human family. As Christians, we are taught to love our neighbour as ourselves. Indeed, Jesus commanded us to love one another as he loved us. So far, I have regularly found this attitude of selfless love present in all my encounters with people of other faiths and I thank God and them for it. Thanks to all the love and support, I have received, I think I have more or less settled in, but I still have much to learn and I am looking forward to this new adventure and journey in faith.

Ever since I took over from Alfred in July last year, one of our major concerns has been the threat of eviction from our current premises and the need to find suitable alternative accommodation before the end of last year. At the time of writing that is still the case. We have considered a number of different options but none so far have proved ideal for our purposes so we are still hanging on for the time being. Hopefully, by the next issue of the newsletter, everything will be sorted. We ask for your prayers that we do find, or are offered, adequate and appropriate accommodation to suit our particular needs.

In this issue, you will find a variety of articles on a number of interesting issues and events. We have tried to keep to the style and format established by Alfred Agius over the years, with regular extracts from the writings of Brother Daniel and Anthony De Mello, as well as news, reports on interreligious activities, book reviews and notice of forthcoming events, including a calendar of religious festivals. We shall continue to respond to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Popes with regard to interfaith dialogue and relations by regularly publishing extracts from Church documents and speeches. We are committed to promote greater understanding, cooperation and respect between Christians and people of other faiths so we shall often include articles and information about and from other faith traditions. Of course, there have been changes—I am not Alfred—and no doubt there will be further modifications and innovations. We hope you enjoy this edition.

Jon

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