Seeking Dialogue

March 16, 2006

Here are two stories about the possibility of dialogue between religious leaders. The first one is a column urging the Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders to engage in dialogue: Road to Rome. Here are a couple of highlights:

The road from Lambeth Palace to the Vatican is reasonably well travelled these days. George Carey, as Archbishop of Canterbury, met Pope John Paul II six times. Dr Rowan Williams was in Rome for the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI last year and is expected to return later this year for his first official audience with John Paul’s successor. But the history of such meetings is relatively brief. Until 1960 no Archbishop of Canterbury had visited a Pope for more than 500 years.

... When he visited the late John Paul, Dr Williams wore the episcopal ring that Pope Paul VI had given to Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966. Such gestures doubtless help to create warmth. But Dr Williams needs to generate more than soothing mood music. He will have, no less, to convince the Pope of the relevance of the Church of England, and persuade him that a dialogue is worth pursuing.
Then there is a piece about the Pope urging more dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims. He urged religious leaders to "work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue." He added:

"This is especially important today when particular attention must be given to teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship."

While these are perhaps minor stories, they could lead to much greater ones. If religious leaders could actually sit down and begin to honestly talk and listen to each other, it could go a long way toward increasing understanding and the ability to work together. We do not have to agree on everything, but we should at least attempt to come together for dialogue.