Impressed and Challenged

The recently concluded MSPC XVI was impressive not only in terms of the efficient management by the host Archdiocese of Davao but also in terms of the strongly worded resolutions by the respective delegates of the participating dioceses, prelature and apostolic vicariate.

Remarkably efficient were the ways the needs of the delegates were answered and the manner the group processes were carried out.

Bishop George Rimando and his team of collaborators did an excellent performance of their respective assignments. It was all due to the inspiring and cheerful leadership of Archbishop Romulo G. Valles.

I have attended MSPC assembles from III to XVI but this is the first time that dialogue was given a very strong boost. For the first time they use IRD to refer to an important factor in the building and/or strengthening of the parish community. IRD is Interreligious Dialogue. Here I find the need of clarification if this factor is to be effective.

It seems to me that for MSPC XVI IRD is understood as dialogue only with Muslims. This is not quite correct. Interreligious Dialogue, in the documents and practice of the Church, refers to our dialogue with non-christian religions. Islam is only one of them. Other non-christian religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Sikhism. But there is another dialogue that we have been doing for more than 42 years. This is the ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholics. This dialogue with Protestants has impacted also on the parish communities especially through the activities of the Bishops-Ulama Conference. If this is accepted MSPC XVI would have referred to both interreligious and ecumenical dialogues. The abbreviation would then be IERD not just IRD. This seems to be missing in the overall thinking of MSPC XVI, if I am not mistaken. There might be a reason for the omission.

But more important to me is the new and bigger interests in Interreligious Dialogue. This is the reason for the title of this column, Impressed and Challenged. This is my answer to the ISIS-inspired Islamic movement. I hope to be able to explain this in future Shaloms.

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