“Dialogue is what creates peace. All the wars, all the strife, all the unsolved problems over which we clash are due to a lack of dialogue.
When there is a problem, talk: This makes peace.”
“Ten,” responds Eugene Fisher instantly when asked to rate the current state of Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States. At the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) in Washington, D.C., he heads the office for these relations. St. Anthony Messenger interviewed him at the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Fisher ranks Catholic-Jewish relations worldwide as, “Five or six, depending on the country—a little higher in a country like Italy or England. We’re still working at it in some other places.”
As a Franciscan and a Christian, I feel uneasy about the violent conflicts in the Middle East, Europe, and on our soil. I feel highly concerned about the frequent reports (and, yes, we need to be aware of the propaganda factor) of innocent civilians being killed or made homeless and forced into harsh refugee situations.
Some accidental deaths of civilians and severe dislocations seem sadly unavoidable in warfare, but is our nation doing everything it reasonably can to value and protect such lives?
Franciscans and Muslims encountered one another during the lifetime of Saint Francis (1181-1226). Indeed, he sent friars to the Holy Land in 1217. Two years later, Crusaders fought Muslim soldiers at Damietta, Egypt, near the mouth of the Nile.
At considerable risk, Saint Francis engaged Sultan Malik al-Kamil, their leader, in peaceful dialogue. What follows is a brief description of that encounter, based on accounts written soon afterward.
According to the accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke, on the night before he died on the cross, Jesus celebrated a Seder, a Jewish Passover supper. Although Catholics know this Holy Thursday evening meal as the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and the Twelve were also celebrating the first night of Passover. Born and raised in the Jewish faith, I became a Catholic over 10 years ago.
Francis and the Sultan
Address by Richard Rohr, OFM, on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama