A journey of knowledge and discovery to be made together on a daily basis and in a great spirit of acceptance, while coping with the many challenges that the world presents. We talked about this with Antonio Salimbeni and Rita Moussallem, the leaders of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue (CDI).

In the world landscape that is undergoing a profound transformation toward an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious society, the Focolare Movement promotes dialogue among religions, so that the religious pluralism of humanity may not be the cause of divisions and wars, but contribute to fraternity and peace. Antonio Salimbeni and Rita Moussallem, leaders of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue (CDI), answer some questions.

In light of what is affecting the world today, particularly the new conflicts that are being added to existing ones, what contribution can interfaith dialogue make to building one big human family?
In the face of the heartbreaking and shocking events of recent weeks, we feel dismay and deep sorrow as well as a sense of bewilderment. Religion is often instrumentalized by political powers. We realize how ideologies, religious nationalism and any form of polarization always lead to conflict. Dialogue can help purify our approach, deepen our knowledge of the other, and focus our engagement on the essence of our religions, which is our relationship with God, Love and Mercy.

Dialogue can raise the level of our relationships to a deep spiritual dimension and push us to live the deepest human values, to work together to spread Goodness and fraternity.

How does the Focolare Movement pursue its commitment in this area?
The Focolare Movement, founded on a profound spirituality centered on unity and fraternity among all, discovered its vocation to interreligious dialogue more than five decades ago. Since then, it has established – including through its Center for Interreligious Dialogue (CDI) and its centers present in various countries – intense and fraternal relationships with thousands of faithful and numerous institutions, associations, movements and organizations of the most diverse religions in the conviction that friendship among people of different faiths is a vital potential for building universal brotherhood.

It is a dialogue among brothers. A dialogue sustained by listening, sharing and collaboration. It is a dialogue that makes us discover diversity, whatever it may be, as a gift. Whoever is close to me,” said Chiara Lubich, founder of the Movement, “was created as a gift for me, and I was created as a gift for whoever is close to me: her formula for a fraternal world.

What are the next scheduled appointments? What are the issues to be addressed and the goals?
An idea has been maturing for the past few months, which is to organize an interfaith conference for fraternity next June 2024. This becomes even more urgent and necessary in light of the growing crisis that intensifies divisions in humanity. It is an event that aims to contribute to reconciliation efforts with innovative actions at the global level and to walk the path of dialogue and fraternity by strengthening relations and cooperation among people of different faiths.

The conference will kick off on May 29 and end on June 5, 2024. It will consist of several moments that will have as a common denominator the theme of peace among people and with creation. There will be two open days, one in Castel Gandolfo in collaboration with FaithInvest organization and one in Assisi together with the Laudato Si Movement, to celebrate the importance and commitment of different faiths in the custody of our common home.

In this urgent endeavor we are partnering with Consulus, a global innovation consulting firm with its presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia, as our global knowledge partner.

Maria Grazia Berretta 

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