Our religious traditions are diverse. But our differences are not the cause of conflict and dispute, or a cold distance between us… We believe and hope in a fraternal world. We desire that men and women of different religions may everywhere gather and promote harmony… Our future consists in living together. (Pope Francis, Assisi Sept. 2016)
I am writing to alert you to Scottish Interfaith Week which this year takes place from November 11th to November 18th. We know from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and from the example of Pope Francis and his predecessors that interreligious dialogue plays an important part in the life of the Church and is a contribution to peace in our world. Even as I write America, and indeed all of us, are reeling from the news that 11 members of the Jewish community have been murdered while worshipping in their Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Such prejudice and hatred is unfortunately very prominent in our society today.
As Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Interreligious Dialogue, therefore, I am once again asking you to take the opportunity of Interfaith Week to make your congregation aware of the importance of interreligious dialogue within the life of the Church. A way of doing this is to put a statement about Interfaith Week in your parish bulletin, to use one or more of the bidding prayers enclosed with this letter, send a letter of greeting to a local place of worship near you or engage in some kind of local interfaith activity. Many of the pupils in our schools are involving themselves through the art competition organised by Interfaith Scotland or by planning some kind of event to take place in their school during the week.
Information about the many interfaith events taking place throughout the country can be found in the website of Interfaith Scotland (www.interfaithscotland.org).
I do hope you will take the opportunity that Interfaith Week affords to bring the importance of good interfaith relations to the attention of your parish.
With warm personal good wishes,
Yours devotedly in Christ
+ Mario Conti,
Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Inter-Religious Dialogue