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Philippine nuns hold webinar on interfaith dialogue

Panel from various religions highlight need to communicate at all levels to achieve world peace and harmony

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Published: October 23, 2020 08:35 AM GMT

Updated: October 23, 2020 08:36 AM GMT

Philippine nuns hold webinar on interfaith dialogue

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan was one of the panelists taking part in a webinar involving Jewish, Islamic, and Catholic experts aimed at  tackling modern-day religious misunderstandings. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

A congregation of nuns in the Philippines sponsored an online interfaith discussion on Oct. 21 involving representatives from the Jewish, Islamic, and Catholic faiths aimed at tackling modern-day religious misunderstandings.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Sion nuns said the online seminar was called Abrahamic Faiths in Dialogue and had the theme “building harmony in today’s challenging context.”

The webinar featured scholar, Deborah Weissman, the first female Jewish president of the International Council of Christians and Jews, an international organization that promotes understanding and cooperation among the two faiths.

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Also involved were Islamic studies professor, Macrina Morado, and theology professor Lizette Tapia-Raquel, together with Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, acting president of the Philippines’ Catholic bishops’ conference.

Doctor Weissman said the interfaith discussion was significant as many Filipinos are working in Israel as caregivers.

“Dialogue should take place at the grassroots level like in hospitals or even at home. Peace can be achieved when dialogue takes place at the lower levels of society, not only in an academic setting,” Weissman said in the webinar.

She said one must find commonality among religions rather than differences to have a point for dialogue.

“We must focus on things that unite rather than divide religions. For example, all religions want peace. No society or religion would say they do not want peace. So, peace is a neutral ground for dialogue. We can begin our dialogue as a pursuit for peace,” Doctor Weissman said.

Bishop David, meanwhile, said Filipinos could turn the current pandemic into an opportunity if only churchgoers had the humility to be mindful of the common good.

“Nations around the world, including global powers, have called for lockdowns, paralyzing transportation, commerce and trade, causing business bankruptcy, massive unemployment, and the consequent collapse of global and national economies. Suddenly, we all find ourselves in a state of uncertainty about the future,” he said.

Bishop David said dialogue and peace could be achieved if people did away with hubris or arrogance.

“I remember learning two important Greek concepts: hubris and nemesis. Roughly, their equivalent terms in English would be arrogance and downfall. Hubris is the most common pitfall of human intelligence.”

Humans become exclusive and avoid any dialogue if they are proud and too full of themselves, he added.

Muslim professor, Macrina Morado, said Islam was a way of life for peace embodied with humanistic values and promoted equality.

According to Morado, Abraham is a unifying figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

“Abraham is also a revered figure in the Islamic faith. According to our faith, Abraham became the leader of the righteous in his time and the Adnanite-Arabs and Israelites came from his tribe,” she said.

Professor Tapia-Raquel said that multiple experiences and expressions of the divine provide room for dialogue.

“Our multiple experiences only prove that our experiences tell us that we have diverse and multiple experiences of the same God,” she said.

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