Dialogue among religions spawns a strategy of brotherhood for building a new world

“What future lies ahead for a multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious society?”
This ever more widely diffused question, particularly felt in English society (the most cosmopolitan in Europe), was the topic dealt with by Chiara Lubich when she addressed a public of 2,000 at Westminster Central Hall. Also present was Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of London, as well as Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh leaders. The title of the meeting, promoted by the Focolare Movement of Great Britain, was “Imagine a world … where diversity is richness.”

A strategy of brotherhood needed for a change in international relations
While there is talk of a perilous conflict among cultures due to terrorism, the Focolare foundress proposed interreligious dialogue as a way to prevent it. Furthermore, according to her, this dialogue could trigger that “strategy of brotherhood, which is capable of activating a turnabout in international relations.”

A new world can be born from a multiethnic and multireligious society
Tracing a parallelism between our times, where such profound changes are taking place, and those of St. Augustine of Hippo who had witnessed the upheaval of society under the pressure of the migration of different peoples, Chiara in concordance with him, affirmed that what is now happening is “the birth of a new world.” For Chiara the new world of the third millenium will be characterized by the unity of the human family, enriched by diversities, in accordance with God’s plan. A miniature sample of this new world was seen from the rich succession of life experiences shared, songs and dances along with African and Oriental colors and rhythms, the discourses delivered by representatives of different religions (such as Iranian Imam Mohammed Somali, and Madame Didi Athavale, leader of the great Hindu Movement called “Swadhyaya Family”).

How can we bring about dialogue among religions?
Dialogue – Chiara Lubich remarked – should be animated by that measure of love which reaches the point of “getting into the other’s skin,” because it makes itself a “nothingness of love” in front of the other person, it creates that space of acceptance and listening which paves the way to “the respectful announcement of the Gospel.” In this regard, the Focolare foundress cited the words pronounced by Pope John Paul II in India: “When we open ourselves one to the other, we also open ourselves to God and allow God to be present in our midst.” In Him there is “that secret force which gives vigor and success to our efforts, so as to bring unity and universal brotherhood everywhere.”

A vision shared by leaders of different religions and by politicians, too
The same concept had been expressed by the leader of the Imams of the United Kingdom, Dr. Zaki Badawi and by the spiritual leader of the Sikhs of Great Britain and Europe, Bai Sahib Mohinder Singh of Birmingham, who delivered their speeches after Chiara Lubich. Baroness Kathleen Richardson of the House of Lords recalled that “immediately after the war, the United Nations gathered for their First Plenary Assembly right in Westminster Central Hall. She added that the world vision which was expressed that day was even richer because it was not built only upon human aspirations but upon our participation in the love of God.

New technologies at the service of brotherhood among peoples
Unity and universal brotherhood. This was a living experience at Westminster Central Hall which, as proven by the many fax and e-mail received, brought a wave of hope in the numerous countries of America, Australia, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, which were linked via satellite, thanks to Telepace and Internet. Here are some news flashes. From Bulgaria: “We have been taken up into the wave of brotherhood among religions and cultures which we also want to see become a reality in our country where the Muslims, who are almost a million here, remind us of a wound of the past.” From Ireland: “We have actually experienced a portion of brotherhood made possible by admiring the beauty and richness of the different faiths and cultures. This day has marked a new journey full of hope, now that Ireland is becoming increasingly multicultural.” From Stockholm: “We have had a glimpse of the solution to violence in the world, a new hope that unity and peace are possible.”

Wednesday, June 16, upon the invitation of the Rector of St. Mary’s College (of the State University of Surrey, London), Chiara Lubich gave an address on “The new Movements and the Marian profile.” Her talk concluded a series of conferences on “Mission and Evangelization”. Last year, the series was dedicated to Cardinals Connell, Pulic, Grinze, Napier, Williams, Daly, O’Connor and Stafford, while this year it was about the Movements, communities and ecclesial spiritualities.

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