An interview with Maria Voce by Roberto Catalano, of the centre of the Focolare Movement for interreligious dialogue, on the occasion of the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, held in Vienna, Austria at the end of November 2013. (second part)
Chiara Lubich had understood that dialogue was the solution to many challenges of our time …
«As I was also able to say in my talk here in Vienna, Chiara has placed us before a very clear and simple vision: we are all children of God and, therefore, all brothers and sisters to one another. In the beginning, it was not a prospect aimed at the great religions, but rather a consideration of the human person. This attitude then led to dialogue and relationship with the followers of other religions. I think this was prophetic.
Indeed, Chiara began to open the Movement to dialogue even before the Second Vatican Council when, later, the dialogues were taken as one of the paths of the Church precisely because they were part of this prospect towards the human person. Moreover, Chiara prepared the means and tools for these dialogues. Becoming acquainted with people of other religious traditions, she understood that it was necessary to learn more how to continue these relationships. For this reason she founded some special centres, … where we try to go more in-depth so as to get to know Christians of other churches, faithful of other religions and people of different cultures. In fact, a possibility of greater love and openness arises from a deeper understanding of one another. We discover the values and we don’t take a defensive position, but one of a dialogical attitude, as it should be.
… Today we find ourselves with Buddhists, Muslims and people of other religions who are an integral part of the Movement and we cannot say that we dialogue with them. They are part of our Movement and so, together with us, they dialogue with others. We have, therefore, passed the stage of dialogue arriving at a stage of unity and full cooperation also with them.»
What are the prospects of interreligious dialogue for the Focolare Movement?
« We see that when we meet and dialogue, there are always new people of various religions who are attracted by the relationship they have seen between members of different faiths. This testimony opens up the possibility of extending the dialogue. This means that tolerance, understanding and friendship are possible, all aspects which are often compromised by many judgments. We need to drop prejudices so as to discover the beauty that there is in every person, especially highlighting that the most precious thing is to belong to a religion. This makes it possible to shed light on the relationship of each person with God.
… The dialogues allow us to grow in the ability not only to understand those people with whom we live…, but also to take in others who come from spiritual traditions and inspirations that are different from our own. … Our Movement aims … at ut omnes [‘That all may be one’ asked by Jesus to the Father] and, therefore, must encompass all dimensions as much as possible. The Movement cannot be satisfied with the Catholic dimension in which it was born and which also has a universal perspective within itself, because Catholic means universal. In order to be truly universal, we have to discover all the beauty that there is in humanity».
Read the complete interview on Città Nuova online (in Italian)