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Posted April 11, 2006

Book: Interfaith Dialogue: A Catholic View
Authors: Michael L. Fitzgerald and John Borelli
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp.255

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Written by two of the Church’s longest-serving and best-informed experts, this important book offers fresh insight into developments in interreligious dialogue between world religions and the Catholic Church. Here readers can see clearly how dialogue has been central to the Church’s attempts to improve understanding and interchange among the world’s religious traditions, particularly during the long pontificate of John Paul II.

The authors not only provide informative, readable accounts of interfaith encounter but reflect on what has been learned in the process, and point out where relations among the world’s great religious ways and practitioners have improved. They also allow the reader to see where interreligious interchange has met problems, pointing to issues that urgently require attention.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Dispositions for dialogue

To conclude, it may be good to say something about the dispositions needed for dialogue. There is a need for a balanced attitude. It is true that the Holy Spirit is at work both in the hearts of individuals and in the religious traditions to which they belong. This does not mean that everything in these traditions is good; however, they cannot be dismissed simply as evil or without value. There is need for openness and receptivity as well as discernment.

A further disposition required is a strong religious convictions. Without this there would be a danger of indifference to religious values, a temptation not to take others’ religious convictions seriously. Or if one’s own beliefs are not strong enough, a challenge might lead to a defensive or even aggressive attitude. We need a respectful and receptive approach to the convictions and values of others.

Connected with this is an openness to the truth. The conviction that the fullness of truth is to be found in Jesus Christ does not rule out such openness. Provided the Christian realizes that truth is something by which we are to be grasped rather than for us to grasp, the meeting with others can help towards a deeper understanding of the truth. Dialogue can thus become a true learning process.

For this to be realized a contemplative spirit is needed. Through contemplation one is able to discover and admire what God is doing through the Holy Spirit, in the world, in the whole of humanity. Prayer in which a dialogue with God is developed provides a solid foundation for dialogue with others.

Finally there are patience and perseverance. One cannot look for quick results. There are obstacles: ignorance, prejudice, suspicion, self-sufficiency as well as sociopolitical factors, which may make genuine encounter difficult. Many things have to be explained again and again, and this can cause weariness. Nor should failures or disappointments lead to discouragement. The fruits will come in their own good time; yet it may be true here as elsewhere, that one will reap where another has sown. It is God who gives the increase.

One final quotation:

It must be remembered that the Church’s commitment to dialogue is not dependent on success in achieving mutual understanding and enrichment; rather it flows from God’s initiative in entering into dialogue with humankind and from the example of Jesus Christ whose life, death and resurrection gave to that dialogue its ultimate expression.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Dialogue in General
1. The Catholic Church and interreligious dialogue
2. Theological considerations on pluralism
3. Religious pluralism in the USA today: a Catholic perspective
4. Pluralism and the parish
5. The role of the laity in interreligious dialogue

Part II: Christian – Muslim Relations
6. Christian-Muslim dialogue: developments, difficulties and directions
7. Recent Muslim – Catholic dialogue in th USA
8. From heresy to religion: Vatican II and Islam
9. Muslims in Europe: a religious and cultural challenge to the Church
10. Dialogue and proclamation in the perspective of Christian - Muslim relations
11. Christians and Muslims together: creating a culture of peace
12.. Mary as a sign for the world according to Islam

Part III: Wider Horizons
13. The witness of monotheistic religions
14. Modern religious fundamentalisms
15. Witnessing to Christ: ecumenism and interreligious dialogue
16. Dialogue and spirituality: the example of Buddhist–Catholic dialogue in the USA
17. ‘Forgiveness is beautiful’
18. Christ in the religions
19. Prophets of dialogue