Interreligious Dialogue

Interreligious dialogue is ‘part of the Church’s evangelizing mission’ (RMi 55). Interreligious dialogue refers to ‘all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths which are directed at mutual understanding and enrichment, in obedience to truth and respect for freedom’ (DP9). The Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles are involved in interreligious dialogue in many parts of the world, in diverse ways according to their diverse circumstances. The Interfaith Forum of Muslim and Christian Women’s Associations, also known as Women’s Interfaith Council (WIC), was established in Kaduna, Nigeria, by an Irish OLA Sister. This brings together the Muslim and Christian women leaders and helps women to be proactive in the peacebuilding process in this troubled region (www.womeninterfaithcouncil.org)

Interreligious dialogue is not geared towards conversion to religion but ‘towards God’ (DP 11). It is a way of working for the coming of God’s Kingdom (DM 25). It seeks to promote positive relationships with people of other religions so as to acknowledge and promote the spiritual and moral goods found in other religions.

The term interreligious can be off-putting and misleading because it seems to imply that what we should be doing is mainly talking to people of other faiths. Many conceive of dialogue as formal interreligious gatherings where religious leaders make long speeches, or else as round-table discussions among scholars and theological experts of various faiths.  In fact, dialogue in the true sense of the word is not an activity at all and it definitely is not fully defined by meetings of religious leaders; rather dialogue is primarily a spirituality and an attitude. Interreligious dialogue is really more a way of ‘living’ together than of ‘talking’ together, sharing life in the context of daily living. Interreligious dialogue is a way of living that involves interaction with people of a different religion to my own at the levels of being (ordinary dialogue of life), doing (cooperation on social issues), thinking (study, discussion of theological issues), and reflecting (sharing of religious experiences).