‘Milestones and Signposts in Interfaith Relations: the View from Christianity’. Australian eJournal of Theology 16 (2010) 10-17.
I would like to approach this theme by looking at two outstanding figures,
Francis of Assisi and Pope John XXIII. I will say a few words about their lives
and draw some conclusions.
From this discussion of St Francis and John XXIII, four salient points can be
- Interreligious dialogue depends on an experience of powerlessness:
chosen by Francis during the Crusades, and imposed on Archbishop
Roncalli during World War II.
- Like St Francis who witnesses the piety of the Sultan, the Second Vatican
Council states that ‘the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and
holy in these religions’.
- Like St Francis who identifies himself as a Christian and proclaims to the
Sultan the central teachings of the faith, the Council speaks of ‘Christians
… witnessing to their own faith and way of life’.
- Like St Francis who sought to serve, Christians are to ‘acknowledge,
preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-
Christians, also their social life and culture.’
In short both Francis of Assisi and John XXIII are happy to be powerless,
perceptive, servant and faithful. Those involved in interreligious dialogue might
do well to follow their example.