Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

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

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 65 – February 2010

Dialogue is not optional but a necessity

Jakarta, 27 November 2009

On his first visit to Indonesia, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue met with Muslim leaders of the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia – Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah. He also spoke with Abdurrahman Wahid, former Indonesian president, at the Wahid Institute he founded. During each of the visits the cardinal stressed Pope Benedict XVI's official position. "Dialogue is not optional but a necessity," he told his hosts. He urged schools and universities to help play their part in encouraging interreligious dialogue that "is based on tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation."

At the Muhammadiyah headquarters in Central Jakarta, the cardinal joined Muslim leaders in a dialogue session on "Building Trust for Social Justice." He began his speech to the 70 Catholics, Protestants and Muslims gathered there with birthday greetings for the organization, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on Nov. 25.

Cardinal Tauran also wished Muslims "Selamat Hari Idul Adha" (Happy Id al-Adha). Muslims celebrated Id al-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, on Nov. 27 this year.

Din Syamsuddin, chairperson of Muhammadiyah who acted as the dialogue moderator, said the cardinal's visit would help continue Christian-Muslim dialogue in a more concrete way.

These talks had been derailed due to Muslim-Christian clashes in Ambon and other provinces. Three years of such clashes left up to 6,000 people dead and displaced thousands before a peace pact was signed in 2002. "From my personal assessment and evaluation, there is a good Muslim-Catholic relationship in Indonesia," said Syamsuddin. "But I have to say there are still problems between Muslims and Christians, especially at the grassroots level." These problems may have religious overtones but were not fundamentally religious in nature, he said.

Earlier on Nov. 26, Cardinal Tauran visited NU headquarters and spoke with its chairman Hasyim Muzadi. Both men agreed that they believed in a "true brotherhood," which is more meaningful than dialogue.

Article adapted from Union of Catholic Asian News: http://www.ucanews.com

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