“We write as Jewish scholars, religious leaders, and long-time practitioners in Jewish-Christian dialogue, in Israel, America, and Europe, to remind our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church of “the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock” (Nostra Aetate #4) in a time of distress and anguish for Jews all over the world.”

This is how a letter that was signed by over 400 Jewish rabbis and scholars engaged in Jewish-Christian dialogue and adressed to Pope Francis starts.

“We, Jews of diverse political positions, national belongings and religious backgrounds, are not reaching out to you now as diplomats or politicians. The crisis we are facing transcends politics. Eighty years after the Holocaust, the threats facing Jews are once again truly and plainly existential,” the scholars comment later in the letter.

Taking from the speeches by the Popes and documents issued over the past decades by the Vatican offices, the rabbis and scholars continue:

“Recalling the Church’s “ardent desire for justice” and strong commitment “to ensur[ing] that evil does not prevail over good as it did for millions of the children of the Jewish people” (Pope John Paul II Address on the occasion of a commemoration of the Shoah, 7 April 1994, 3), we ask for the Church’s intervention in ensuring that “the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and anti- Semitism [will] never again be allowed to take root in any human heart” (Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah”, 1998). Since remembering “is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity” (Pope Francis, “General Audience Remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day”, 2021), we call the Catholic faithful to join us in the memory of the victims of October 7th massacre, to advocate for the release of the kidnapped and hostages, and to acknowledge the vulnerability of the Jewish community at this moment. Above all, we call our Catholic siblings to extend a hand in solidarity to the Jewish community throughout the world, in the spirit of the Church’s “genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant” (Pope John Paul II, Prayer at the Western Wall, 2000), that covenant of which the Catholic Church had taught that it “has never been revoked by God” (cf. 1 Romans 11:29).”

Prof. Adam Afterman, director of our JPII Center, was among the signatories of this open letter and he comments: “The open letter addressed to Pope Francis, and to the Faithful of the Catholic Church, aims to awaken the Holy See and the Catholic Church in general to the fact that we the Jews need the support and help of our Christian brothers. We are standing alone in the face of a terrible torrent of anti-Semitism and I believe that the Holy See and the Church must play a critical role in facing this evil.” 

During the Russell Berrie Fellowship, our Fellows were lucky to learn and be trained about history and antisemitism as well as to reflect on how to make any form of racism no more an option in any way in our societies. “The lesson learned in the Holocaust, the lesson that everyone should remember everywhere – Prof. Afterman states – is that we must not remain silent in the face of evil and racism, including antisemitism. I hope that the fact that the letter was signed by more than 400 Jewish leaders, rabbis and academics, many of them known for their role in developing the relationship between the Jewish world and the Church, will encourage the Church to publish a clear and historical statement against what appears to be the worst outburst of antisemitism since the Holocaust.”

You can read the full open letter here

The John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue Leaders Network, a global community comprising over 130 leaders actively engaged in interreligious dialogue and comprised of esteemed alumni of the Russell Berrie Fellowship in Interreligious Studies, expresses profound concern over the disconcerting resurgence of antisemitism within our society. This alarming trend poses an immediate threat to the well-being of innocent individuals who should never be subjected to the indignities of hatred and discrimination. It is our unwavering commitment to stand in solidarity with those affected and tirelessly endeavor to counter antisemitism, thereby promoting a world where all individuals may live free from the shackles of prejudice and fear. 

As leaders and scholars who have ardently pursued academic excellence within the realm of interreligious dialogue, notably through our immersive educational experiences in Israel that have fostered a profound understanding of Judaism, Jewish-Catholic relations, and interfaith dialogue, we unite in issuing a resounding call for peace. 

We categorically condemn terrorism as was recently experienced by the people of Israel. We feel an obligation to show concern for all victims of violence and terrorism. We hope all parties engaged should care for the safety of their people.

We hereby convey our deep condolences and unequivocal condemnation of the recent abhorrent attacks carried out by Hamas. These heinous acts have resulted in loss of life, injuries, and the taking of Israeli civilians as hostages.  We stand in support and solidarity with innocent Palestinian civilians who endure the severe consequences of the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas. Our heartfelt condolences extend to the bereaved families of innocent victims on both sides of this conflict. 

We steadfastly maintain our fervent prayers for peace, unyielding in our belief that the sanctity of life and the dignity of every individual must be upheld, and we remain unwavering in our commitment to advancing the cause of peace within our respective nations and communities.

The JPII Center sponsored a panel at this year Parliament of World Religions that took place this August in Chicago. Rabbi Allyson Zacharoff (cohort VI, USA), Elyse Brazel (cohort VIII, Canada), and Evans Nyamadzawo (cohort XIV, Zimbabwe) were the speakers for the panel discussion entitled “Working Together to Heal Relationships and the Earth: The Partnership of Dialogue and Climate Action”.

“We began with interfaith perspectives on the care Nyamadzawo of the Earth: the Jewish concept of shmita—giving rest to the land—and its role in Jewish ethics, and the ecumenical Christian concept of kairos, reconciliation with nature. In considering these concepts and traditions, we consider how our relationships with the earth can encourage us to reconsider our ethics of relationships in interfaith spaces,” shares Rabbi Zacharoff.  

The panel offered as well concrete interfaith initiatives two organizations—“Faith and the Common Good” in Canada and “Missions Work Africa Relief Organization” in Zimbabwe—are pursuing to advance climate justice, especially among and in dialogue with indigenous communities.

“I talked about my work as an Organizer with The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good bringing people from our member institutions of different backgrounds (religious and secular) together to work on climate change adaptation strategy and funding at the Municipal level,” tells Brazel who presented about one initiative she is involved with advocating for climate action in the budget plan of Calgary City Council which resulted in the City Council announcing $40 million additional spending on that. “In this work to heal the earth, we need both the spiritual transformation of our hearts but also the practical tangible actions,” Brazel concludes.

“The book of Genesis records the first vertical relationship between man and God, and second relationship of man and nature then relationship with other human beings. Holistic Reconciliation is not complete without the Ecological dimension,” affirms Nyamadzawo He highlighted Christian perspectives to overcome climate challenges from scholars such as Norman Habel and Jürgen Moltmann.

In Chicago there were other JPII Leaders: Nazar Sloboda (cohort VII, Ukraine) contributed to a panel offering diverse Christian reflections on the War on Ukraine and “Towards a Global Ethic (An Initial Declaration),” a statement signed at the Parliament in 1993 of basic moral commitments held in common by the world’s religions, in light of the recent Pastoral Letter from Archbishop John Wester on disarmament.

Prof. Andrew (A.J.) Boyd (cohort II, USA) was invited to participate as a KACIID fellow, contributing to the development of a North American network of individual alumni and interfaith institutions, and as a collaborator of the Seattle University Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions was initially gathered in 1893 as just one of many such ‘parliaments’ and ‘conventions’ taking place in the context of the World’s Fair and Exposition, held in Chicago that year. It is often regarded as the singular event that launched modern interreligious dialogue, introducing many in North America to representatives of the Dharmic religions, and to the diversity of religions beyond the three major Abhramic faiths, for the first time.

In anticipation of the centenary, 1993, local Chicago faith leaders wanted to celebrate by calling together another Parliament, and the event has been held irregularly in the years since. This was the seventh in-person Parliament in the last 30 years, and the second to be held in Chicago. Others have been in Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), Melbourne (2009), Salt Lake City (2015), Toronto (2018). In 2021, an online mini-Parliament was held during the pandemic. 

Allyson had just started her position as a congregational rabbi in New Jersey the same week as Parliament. Elyse is an Organizer with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good in Calgary. Evans is a pastor and seminary professor in Zimbabwe now studying in the US at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace. Nazar is a Ukrainian Catholic scholar currently working in Philadelphia. A.J. is a seminary and university professor currently based in Seattle. 

This past summer the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue was happy to support and be a partner for the Emerging Leadership Conference entitled “Leading in Challenging Times” which gathered more than 40 Catholic and Jewish young adults who spent four days together in Oxford, UK, June 25-29.

This biennial conference is one of the expressions of the collaboration carried out by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), which brings together various organizations from the international Jewish world. Senior Program Manager Elena Dini worked with the two main organizers and supported the initiative representing the JPII Center. Among the young leaders, a good group from our JPII Leaders Network, from the US, Ukraine, Philippines, who contributed to the discussions thanks to their training, knowledge and field experience in Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

Many activities involved the participants in a dynamic that alternated between moments dedicated to getting to know each other, meetings with prominent guests and reflection on the past, present and future of Jewish-Catholic relations starting with the local example offered by England. 

Leading the conference was Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, vice-president of the IJCIC, together with her Catholic counterpart, Father Norbert Hofmann, secretary of the Commission hosted within the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Also present was the then president of the IJCIC, Rabbi David Sandmel. In addition, the conference was supported by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue.

“Jewish-Catholic relations have flourished since Nostra Aetate. It is a joy to see leaders of depth from the new generation preparing to take this important work forward, and we are grateful to our colleagues at the Vatican and the John Paul II Center for being our partners in this holy work,” commented Rabbi Boyd Gelfand.

Reflecting on the richness of difference of the assembled participants, JPII Leader Father Ryan Muldoon, newly appointed director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue for the Archdiocese of New York, recounts, “During informal moments, such as meals and free time, there was deep sharing among the participants about our faith traditions, religious practices, hopes and fears.  I was particularly inspired by meeting with Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who candidly shared their successes and struggles as faith leaders in a pluralistic and increasingly secular world.”

“Real people with real relationships lead to greater understanding and less conflict. This aspect,” comments Rabbi Roy Feldman of Kehilath Jeshurun in New York, delegate of the Rabbinical Council of America, “was highlighted when we listened to a rabbi and a priest from the Ukrainian church who have worked together to help thousands of displaced people from Ukraine, only being able to do so in such an effective way because of the relationship that already existed between them.”

Among the one and a half million Catholic youth gathered in Lisbon for the World Youth Day, the presence of people of other faiths did not go unnoticed. On the street, our JPII Leader Venerable Ashin Mandalarlankara (Cohort XV, Myanmar) was stopped by young people asking him which community he belonged to.

The Lisbon-based International Dialogue Centre KAICIID brought together a group of members from various religious communities and geographical backgrounds to offer an interfaith presence during World Youth Day through a number of events open to the young people crowding the Portuguese streets. Among them two of our JPII Leaders.

On Tuesday, August 1, a panel on youth and interreligious dialogue was held at the Belem Cultural Centre, opposite the City of Joy. Among the speakers the Senior Program Manager of the JPII Center, Elena Dini, and JPII Leader Ashin Mandalarlankara who addressed a group of more than 100 young people interested in dialogue and shared their experience.

On Thursday and Friday, August 3-4, JPII Leaders with other interfaith leaders facilitated the DIALOGO board game with groups of young people who came and enjoyed the chance of delving into dialogue issues in a fun way.

The highlight was for sure the private meeting with Pope Francis who arrived in Lisbon to join the million and a half young Catholics gathered there and took the time for some meetings before then. JPII Leader Mandalarlankara was in the small  group of interreligious leaders facilitated by KAICIID who met Pope Francis.

Looking at the young people gathered in Lisbon, monk Ashin Mandarlarlankara comments: “The Buddhist youth in my country have no leader and no vision. And our young Catholics could not attend because of difficulties in obtaining visas due to the political crisis in Myanmar”. These days were a great opportunity for him: besides the private meeting with the Holy Father on Friday, “walking the streets dressed as a monk but with the WYD badge- he concludes – made the young people feel that I was one of them and yet I was different. And this was a great opportunity, for me and for them”.  

The JPII Center is focused on working with its alumni network of JPII Leaders—those who have attended and graduate from their interreligious dialogue training program over the past 15 years—to continue developing training and projects around dialogue. The JPII Center is happy to support our JPII Leaders by sponsoring their participation at international conferences where their proposals are accepted.

In June 2023, JPII leaders came together from different countries and different cohorts to participate in two conferences around the world. 

Nataliia Pavlyk (Cohort XII, Ukraine), Peter Dziedzic (Cohort VI, USA), and Ana Petrache (Cohort XIII, Romania) presented at the European Academy of Religion’s (EuAre) sixth Annual Conference at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

On June 21, these JPII Leaders offered a panel entitled “Building a Common Home in Europe: The Role of Interreligious Encounter in Civil Society,” which aimed to explore “the role of interreligious engagement in shaping new visions of civil society, civic discourse, and cultures of pluralism in twenty-first century Europe.” As scholars and dialogue practitioners, the JPII Leaders drew upon their hands-on experience in the field of interreligious dialogue to contribute to this year’s EuAre conference, organized around the theme of “Religion from the Inside.”

Ana Petrache began the panel with a discussion on the notion of “civil religion” by putting Thomas Hobbes’ commentary on 2 Kings 5:17 in conversation with political and philosophical notions of statehood, obedience, and religious identity and freedom. Drawing on both Islamic and Catholic intellectual traditions, Peter Dziedzic explored the Islamic concept of dīn and the Western concept of religio as a resource for thinking through models and structures of civil society. Nataliia Pavlyk, founder of the Oriental Studies Circle in Kyiv, Ukraine, concluded the panel with a case study of Jain-Jewish dialogue and emphasized how the spiritual practices behind this concrete experience contribute to fostering a culture of religious pluralism.

Meanwhile, JPII Leaders Samantha Lin (Cohort IX, USA) and Rebecca Cohen (Cohort VI, USA) participated in the International Conference of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) in Boston, USA. This theme of this year’s conference, held on June 18-21, was “Negotiating Multiple Identities: Implications for Interreligious Relations.” Samantha and Rebecca’s workshop, “Leveraging Structured Peer Consultancy to Address Challenges in Initiatives Confronting Antisemitism,” offered real-life scenarios of antisemitism and concrete strategies of how to engage such encounters, especially within the context of interfaith dialogue.  

“This workshop engaged the approximately 12 person group to ‘consult’ on real challenges facing Rebecca and her team at the USCCB as they work to add better context and teaching to the Good Friday liturgy,” explains Samantha, who facilitated the discussion and the peer consultancy. 

The Fellows introduced the Consultancy Protocol, “a process developed by Gene Thompson-Grove that focuses on the specifics of a real challenge that involves implementation, buy-in, and metrics of success faced by a program for confronting antisemitism,” and allowed the participants to engage in scenarios of real-life challenges.

“The lively conversation included real solutions that can be extrapolated and applied to different situations,” explains Samantha, “and we walked away with a shared toolbox of strategies for extending the impact of confronting antisemitism programming.”

Read more about the JPII Leaders that make up our network here.

With the support of a JPII Center Leader Grant, Fr. Herbert Banda (Cohort VIII, Zimbabwe) initiated an interfaith symposium on drug abuse in his home country of Zimbabwe. In collaboration with Evans Nyamadzo (Cohort XIV, Zimbabwe), Fr. Banda organized this event to be hosted at his home parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQOP) in Entumbane.

Fr. Banda, parish priest of OLQOP, opened the Interfaith Symposium on Drug Abuse with a welcome address. Held on February 4, 2023 in Entumbane, this symposium aimed to address the growing concern of drug abuse within local suburbs as well as on a national level—a concern common to many communities in Zimbabwe.

“This project brought together experts and officials—from the Christian and Muslim religions—to give lectures on the topics of substance abuse and domestic violence among their communities,” explains Fr. Banda, “and how to build bridges through dialogue to counter these issues.”

The symposium engaged a variety of voices from the local community: from social workers and psychiatrists to police officers and religious leaders. 

Drawing from the Gospel of John, Fr. Elvis Gwangwava, Assistant Parish Priest of OLQOP, offered a lecture on the Christian approach to drug abuse that drew upon scripture. Sheikh Ronald Mugayi gave a Muslim perspective on drug abuse, quoting from the Qur’an. “We are saying no to stigmatization to those who are into drug abuse,” said Sheikh Mugayi, “instead let us bring them closer to us for counseling/advising, for they have the power to be the leader of tomorrow.”

After a day of diverse and comprehensive talks and workshops, Fr. Banda outlined a threefold “Way Forward” to address drug abuse in Entumbane: the creation of local “Safe Spaces” for youth in the community; the facilitation of open dialogues on drugs at local churches; and an approach of social inclusion to welcome those struggling with drug abuse into the local community. 

“This was the beginning of establishing this platform in my township,” shares Fr. Banda, who is hopeful about continued interfaith collaboration around local and national issues in Zimbabwe.

JPII Leader Ana Petrache (Cohort XIII, Romania) received a grant from the JPII Center to join a group of scholars from around the world—mostly from secular universities based in the United States, the European Union, the Middle East, and South Asia—for two intense weeks of reflection on religion and politics.

The Rome Summer Seminars on Religion and Global Politics, held June 4-17 in Rome, began with a 10-day writing workshop for students, held at the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway (RGG) near the Colosseum, and ended with a 2-day policy dialogue for senior scholars and practitioners, which the students could observe. 

“The program was designed to encourage political scientists to engage more deeply with religious content in order to understand how religious actors think and act,” explains Ana, whose attendance at the Rome Summer Seminars was funded by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue. 

The program is by nature interdisciplinary and collaborative, bringing together academics, policy experts, and religious scholars as well as several institutions: the RGG, Keough School of Global Affairs and Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion; the Pontifical Gregorian University (PUG); the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI); the Sinderesi Foundation; the Adyan Foundation of Lebanon; the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies of Jordan; the Hanns Seidel Stiftung; and John Cabot University (JCU).

Elena Dini, Senior Program Manager for the JPII Center, was one of the invited panelists in a roundtable event entitled “Islam and Roman Catholicism and Political Defeat.”

“Compared with other IRD events, which are mostly the fruit of faith actors who want to meet and engage with other religious leaders, the Rome Summer Seminars were born out of the need for scholars and politicians to enforce multidisciplinary research concerning the interaction between religious and political actors,” explains Ana, “Greater knowledge in this field might help the reconciliation process in conflict zones—or even prevent certain conflicts altogether.”

Participants went on daily visits to a variety of religious and international institutions, such as the Foreign Embassies to the Holy See. “I realized how important the consultation process between religious and political actors is,” shares Ana, “Working closely with their communities, religious actors can often better address grassroots problems, and a more religiously-oriented approach can offer creative resources for solving crises.”

“I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to have received feedback on my presentation concerning the religious fundament of models of sovereignty from Kristina Stoeckl, specialist on Russian Orthodox Church (LUISS University), and Anna Rowlands, specialist on Catholic Social Teaching (Durham University). It was a great occasion to enlarge my political theology network and to engage with contemporary theologians such as Cyril Hovorun.”

Beyond an exceptional professional experience, the Rome Summer Seminars offered Ana several meaningful interactions and friendships; she recounts: “During our visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere, an Indian Muslim came to me and asked if I knew any prayers. After my positive answer, he asked me to pray for him and his family. I particularly like how he framed his request in a theologically correct manner: he did not ask to pray together but for me to pray for him. So I did; I asked the Mother of God that his own work in Christian/Muslim dialogue make a difference.” 

Cohort XV arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday, June 11 to begin their Israel Study Tour, the final part of the Russell Berrie experience before graduating into the JPII Center for Interreligious Dialogue alumni network as JPII Leaders.

The Study Tour kicked off with interactive scriptural study sessions at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where Professor Adam Afterman offered an introduction to the academic program of this visit, and Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, president of the Institute, gave a talk on “Judaism and Pluralism.”

Academic study at the Hartman Institute continued throughout the week with excursions around Jerusalem, including an ecumenical tour of the Old City with Hana Bendcowsky, a guided tour of the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, and a visit to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. 

The Fellows also participated in “Healing Hatred and Meeting Place,” a workshop facilitated by members of the Rossing Center, an interreligious organization based in Jerusalem that promotes an inclusive society for all religious, ethnic, and national groups.

“From various encounters of workshop and group study/sharing with some indigenous groups, I learnt that people are waking up in an unprecedented manner to the pluralistic realities and challenges of our world today and are devotedly committed to fostering a peaceful coexistence,” shares Sr. Geraldine Anugwem (Nigeria), “with religion as a starting point.” 

Rev. Karikoga Tawanda Hope (Zimbabwe) reflects: “Understanding the three Abrahamic religions—how they live and feel in suffering and joy—gives me hope that a world free of violence and atrocities among humanity is attainable.”

June 17 began with a mass at the Garden of Gethsemane and continued with visits to the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Last Supper Room, and King David’s Tomb. 

“Every bit of the Holy Sepulchre is divided, but the thing that unites every bit of it is the prayer,” reflects Sr. Josmy Jose (India), “Every pilgrim’s whispering during the visit turned to be a prayer for peace in the world. I am reminded again that I am a pilgrim on this earth.”

In the final days of the Israel Study Tour, the Russell Berrie Fellows traveled to Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee, including stops at the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, and the Supremacy of St. Peter. 

“Exploring ancient archaeological sites like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, I learned about the interconnectedness of different faiths and the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” shares Ashin Mandalarlankara (Myanmar), “I gained a deep appreciation for the rich history, diverse cultures, and religious significance that permeate the Holy Land. The most enjoyable aspect was witnessing the vibrant tapestry of traditions, from tasting delicious Middle Eastern cuisine to participating in religious prayers.”

The Israel Study Tour concluded in Tel Aviv, where the Fellows visited Jaffa, St. Peter Church, and the ANU Museum of the Jewish People before taking off from the airport. 

“This is a unique experience: to study Judaism in Israel,” shares Fr. Jackson Johnson (India), “Interaction with different people engaged in interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land helped me explore new possibilities. It gave me a new outlook on approaching interfaith dialogue in the future.”

“​​It was quite moving to see what interreligious life looks like, with its beauties and challenges,” says Halil Avci (Germany), “I learned a lot about my fellows, because we have spent much quality time together. I learned more about what they are bringing into this endeavor of interreligious engagement and where they are going to take it in the future.”

“Meeting with people who are motivated to create a culture of peace and harmony strengthened my aspirations to work for peace in and around the world,” concludes Sr. Josmy Jose.

Russell Berrie Fellow Sr. Josmy Jose FMA (Cohort XV, India) received an official invitation from His Eminence Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot to participate in the sixth Colloquium, organized by the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue (DID) and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS). Held in Rome, Italy on May 3 and 4, this important and prestigious Colloquium was organized around the theme of “Creative Commonalities between Christianity and Islam” and gathered a small and selective group of experts in the field.

The Colloquium was opened with remarks from Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot and His Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, chairman of RIIFS. Sr. Josmy, a delegate of the 12-person Catholic delegation, was one of 24 international Catholic and Muslim participants who hailed from Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, France, Spain, Lebanon, Italy, Tunisia, and India.

Delegates presented on the current state of Muslim-Christian dialogue in the world. Each presentation was followed by discussions that engaged important questions and comments among the participants. “Some of the personal and institutional experiences were very enlightening in promoting creative dialogue,” remarks Sr. Josmy.

On the second day of the Colloquium both groups of delegates were received by His Holiness Pope Francis in his Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. Pope Francis offered words of encouragement to the delegates and pointed to the perseverance of this journey of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, with RIIFS having been founded in 1994 in Amman, Jordan, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal.

Pope Francis emphasized friendship as a means of continuing to build bridges of peace and solidarity. “He also remembered the people who are suffering in Turkey and North Syria,” notes Sr. Josmy, “The words and the very presence of Holy Father Pope Francis brought a lot of joy and gratitude to each of the delegates present in the colloquium.” 

The Colloquium ended with generative discussions, ideas, and suggestions from the Christian and Muslim delegates. “The search for common platforms to express these diversities remains a challenge and an opportunity,” shares Sr. Josmy, “The awareness of a call to global citizenship is another key point that resounded all throughout the Colloquium.”