Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Inter-Religious Dialogue -- Part II

Half-way through last Monday’s (April 14) entry on this website I wrote that King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia’s monarch, “Custodian of the two Holy Mosques,” and one of the most prominent adherents of the Wahabi branch of Sunni Islam had proposed that representatives of the three “religions of the book” should meet “to discuss the future of religion in society.

Today, in Washington DC, he received an answer from Pope Benedict XVI who is visiting the United States over the next few days. Now perhaps I am reading into Benedict’s speeches during today’s welcoming ceremony at the White House and later to the bishops of the Church at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception more than is there. But as one who values synchronicity, I could not get past the similarities between the “concerns” each of these world figures expressed:

Abdullah
disintegrating family structures
rise of atheism
proper balance among reason, ethics, and

Benedict

the state of the family within society
the influence of secularism and materialism
the harmony of faith and reason; ethical challenges; separation of faith from life; the extent to which religion has become a private as opposed to a communal affair

I also realize that Benedict’s immediate audience was the clergy and the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States as well as the wider circle of all American men and women, Nonetheless, it is also true that the men who have occupied Peter’s chair from John XXIII on seem to command the attention of millions around the world, even those who profess other faiths or no faith at all.

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