The Society of Jesus, Pope Francis and interreligious dialogue

April 4, 2019 — Our world has never had such a need for peacemakers and also for builders of bridges of brotherhood, to repeat Pope Francis' beautiful words; even more so in the aftermath of the terrible attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. But also following several attacks on Christian communities, from Nigeria to the Philippines. Strongly condemning all these attacks, the Pope invited Christians to pray for the Muslim victims of the Christchurch attacks, not without calling on humanity to put an end to the persecution of martyred Christians all over the world.

In the Pope's eyes, the solution to these interfaith tensions lies in dialogue and diplomacy - not in armed struggle. Needless to say, he is committed to peace, whether between Cuba and the United States, between Russia and Ukraine, or between Israel and Palestine. As well as his many official visits to the Arab-Muslim world where he advocated for peace and interreligious dialogue. His most recent trip to Morocco speaks volumes on this subject, as Francis once again called for dialogue and fraternity between the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), the only way to overcome hatred and division. Great moments of spiritual communion took place during this trip, including this concert by the Moroccan Symphony Orchestra. Muslim (Allahu akbar), Jewish (Adonai) and Christian (Ave Maria) prayers were sung in unison:

nostra-aetateInterreligious dialogue has a very long history in the life of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits are indeed different from some of their missionary confreres in that they have sometimes practiced the inculturation of Christianity in a radical way. They have also stood out for their desire to better understand the culture and religious universe of the peoples they were (certainly) trying to evangelize. 

This tradition of inculturation has also been combined with a desire to break with the contemptuous and intolerant attitude of the Church of yesteryear towards non-Catholic and non-Christian religious traditions, particularly Jews, and even more so in the aftermath of the Shoah. The time of the Second Vatican Council was essential in rejecting these contemptuous and deadly attitudes. In addition to Pope John XXIII's personal commitment to the delicate issue of the struggle against Catholic anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, it is worth noting the decisive role of two Jesuits in the elaboration of the Vatican II Declaration Nostra Aetate: Cardinal Augustin Bea SJ and theologian John Courtney Murray SJ. To which can also be added Canadian theologian Gregory Baum, who, although not a Jesuit, played a key role in the development of this founding text.

As a promoter of Jewish-Christian dialogue in Canada, our late companion Stéphane Valiquette is also an illustrious representative of this tradition of interreligious dialogue. Just like the Italian Jesuit Paolo dall'Oglio, promoter of Islamic-Christian dialogue and founder of the monastery of Mar Moussa in Syria; and Fr. Frans van der Lugt who lived this commitment to peace and dialogue to the point of martyrdom.





Recent News

April 17, 2019 — This coming April 22, 2019, we will be celebrating two events: Easter Monday and Earth Day. “Today, the waves of personal and planetary destruction roll back to sources of hope,” states Erik Oland, Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Canada, in a new letter.

April 18, 2019 — Two Jesuits, Leonard Altilia and John O’Brien, comment upon the Pope’s latest Apostolic Exhortation through a Jesuit and Canadian perspective.

April 18, 2019 — How can old Jesuit manuscripts written in indigenous languages have become such a hot topic? Because they fit perfectly into one of the four Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences as well as into UNESCO’s theme for 2019, namely the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

April 15, 2019 — The 9th edition of the Lonergan Symposium will be held next May 4, jointly organized by the Centre Culturel Chrétien de Montréal and the Lonergan network.

April 11, 2019 — How can the Church, this two-thousand-year-old institution, still reach today's youth? Fannie Dionne dwells into 3 points of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation.

April 11, 2019 — A book devoted to reconciliation with indigenous peoples was launched on March 27, at McGill University’s Newman Centre.

April 11, 2019 — Next July, after 14 years as Managing Director, Mireille Chilloux will leave her position at Mer et Monde.

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