Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walking With Others: the Nostra Aetate Conference at CUA

By Father John Crossin

The Second Vatican Council’s document on interreligious relations—Nostra Aetate—was one of the last of the Council's documents to appear, one of the shortest, and one with incredible impact. The May 19-21 Symposium at The Catholic University of America will explore the past, present and future of interreligious dialogue.

Three distinguished Cardinals, two from Rome and one from New York, will keynote the Symposium. Cardinals Tauran, Dolan and Koch provide leadership in Catholic relationships with the Muslim and Jewish communities-- among others.

I believe that this is the kind of Symposium where one can gain a lifetime of learning from the distinguished speakers. And one can gain lots of practical knowledge by speaking to people at lunch or in the corridor or over a cup of coffee [all food will be kosher--halal].

There will be an initial offering on dialogue for the person who feels he or she knows nothing. But the key will be that the presenters—both scholars and church leaders—have the experience that allows them to summarize effortlessly, illustrate aptly, and project the future realistically.

In a time when interreligious relations appear in daily headlines in all media, this Symposium will offer constructive paths for the future. In 1965, Nostra Aetate offered a positive challenge to walk together, to leave prejudices and misperceptions behind, and to build real understandings of others.

In 2015, this challenge is even more relevant. We are still seeking a world in which collaboration, not conflict, is the norm.  With Pope Francis, we believe that if we walk together sharing our lives and listening intently to one another, we can come to the deeper understanding that makes for peace.

Father John Crossin is an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales and executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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