Christian-Muslim Dialogue 2011

Christian-Muslim Dialogue

COMMUNIQUE

A two week workshop organized by the General Council, on the recommendation of the SMA Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue Commission (SMA-IEDC) and approved by the Plenary Councils (Cadier en Keer, 2010 and Tenafly 2011), was held from Monday 12th to Friday 23rd September 2011. The venue was the SMA Regional House, Abuja, Nigeria. The principal host was Rev Fr Maurice Henry, Regional Superior SMA, Nigeria.

The coordinator and facilitators were Fr Basil Soyoye, SMA (DFBB, member of the SMA-IEDC) and Sr Kathleen McGarvey, OLA (Irish Province and General Co-ordinator of Inter-Faith Council of Muslim and Christian Women’s Groups, Kaduna).

Participants at the workshop were SMA Fathers representing eight Regions and Communities in Africa: Benin-Niger; Côte d’Ivoire; Togo; Kenya; Ghana; Liberia, Nigeria and South Africa. Also participating was Miss Muniratu Usman (a Muslim and Secretary of Interfaith Council of Muslim and Christian Women’s Groups-Kaduna).

OBJECTIVES

The following were the objectives of the workshop:

  1. To implement the decisions of the SMA General Assembly (G.A) 2007 and the Plenary Councils 2010 and 2011.
  2. To deepen our continued commitment as a Society to Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue with particular attention to dialogue with Muslims.
  3. To create awareness of Inter-Religious Dialogue among us participants and in our Regions/Communities of mission.
  4. To have a better knowledge of Islam in order to be aware and overcome our prejudices.
  5. To set up concrete Projects on Inter-Religious Dialogue in our Regions/Communities of mission.

METHODOLOGY

The approach to the workshop was practical and experiential through sharing personal experiences and witness of members representing the various Regions / Communities. Experiences from India, Ireland, Holland and several African countries were also shared. These were backed with thoroughly researched papers on current topics associated to Christian-Muslim Dialogue in contemporary time, by competent resource persons, both Muslims and Christians, who are actively involved in Christian–Muslim Dialogue.

The topics covered were:

  • Contemporary issues in Muslim-Christian relations especially in Africa (By Bishop Josiah Fearon, Anglican Communion, Kaduna).
  • Islam: Doctrine and Practice (By Chief Imam Isah Sani of the Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna).
  • Teaching of the Church on Inter-Religious Dialogue and Scriptural Foundation of Inter-Religious dialogue (By Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua, Director of Mission and Dialogue, Catholic Secretariat, Abuja.)
  •  SMA commitment to Inter-Religious Dialogue and Fundamentalist Movements (Fr. Basil Soyoye, SMA).
  • Brief Overview of Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Spirituality of Inter-Religious Dialogue; Particularities and Problems of Muslim-Christian dialogue: Gender and Dialogue (Sr. Kathleen McGarvey, OLA).
  • Mission and Dialogue: Complementarity or Contradiction (Sr. Anne Falola, OLA).
  • The Role of Media in Inter-Religious Dialogue. (Fr. Christopher Emokhare, SMA).

OBSERVATIONS

After the various inputs and deliberations, we observe that:

  1. Since the time of our Founder Msgr. De Marion Brésillac, efforts have been made in the Society on Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue.
  2. Dialogue is a manner of living and acting more than just expressing ideas.
  3. Dialogue is an ideal among Muslims and Christians for peaceful co-existence.
  4. Dialogue has its origin from the Holy Spirit and the Sacred Scriptures (Qur’an and Bible).
  5. Contrary to our misconceptions about Muslim women, Islam honours and appreciates women.
  6. A case study of Nigerian situation reveals that some of the religious conflicts are ethnically, culturally and politically motivated.
  7. Dialogue is possible, though challenging.
  8. The Media plays an important role in Inter-Religious Dialogue.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The participants at the workshop will report to all SMA members in their respective Regions/Communities.
  2. We reiterate October 27th as SMA Day of Inter-religious Dialogue as laid down by the Plenary Council 2010 (cf. SMA Bulletin 133 for possible resources).
  3.  Where possible Parishes, where SMAs minister, should form groups for Christian-Muslim Dialogue taking into consideration gender equity.
  4. Formation Houses should include seminars and workshops on Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue in their programmes.
  5. The creation of awareness of Inter-Faith Dialogue in our areas of apostolate such as: schools, catechesis, youths, and women groups.
  6. Essential resources in personnel, funds and adequate structures should be made available for programmes on Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue in the Society and shared with other interested groups and associations
  7. It is important to collaborate with the Local Churches where we mission; to inform and seek the support of the Church Hierarchy for our initiatives about Inter-Religious Dialogue, especially dialogue with Muslims an  in the dioceses where we work.
  8. We endeavour in our ministry to reach out to those who need healing and reconciliation as a result of Inter-Religious crisis in our areas of mission. Special attention be given to youths.
  9. We propose the creation of the SMA Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue Committee in various Regions/Communities.
  10.  That the Media (SMA Media Centre) be used actively to promote Inter-Religious Dialogue.

COMMITMENT

The participants at the workshop are committed to continuing efforts of Dialogue with Muslims in their respective milieu and are also committed to the above recommendations until the 2013 General Assembly.

APPRECIATION

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the SMA General Council and the SMA Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue Commission for sponsoring this first of its kind SMA Introductory program on Christian-Muslim Dialogue.

We thank Fr. Basil Soyoye, SMA and Sr. Kathleen McGarvey, OLA for not only being resource persons but also for organizing and facilitating the workshop.

We also thank and appreciate all the resource persons for their input and dedication.

We are grateful to the SMA Regional Superior of Nigeria Region, Fr. Maurice Henry, SMA; to Fr. Amos Ngaïzoure, SMA and to the staff for hosting us.  

We acknowledge the presence and contributions of Miss Muniratu Usman.

We cannot but be appreciative to all the SMA Fathers who participated in this noble workshop.

Given in Abuja on Friday 23rd September, 2011

The Communique was signed by Fr Basil Soyoye SMA (Coordinator) and Fr. Jothinathan Dominic Anthuvan, SMA (Secretary).