|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: Catholics and Other Religions
Subtitle: Bridging the Gap between Dialogue and Theology
Author(s): KNITTER, Paul E.
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 24 Issue: 4 Date: winter 1999
The issue at hand in this essay became crystal clear to me at a dinner table in San Cristóbal, Chiapas in November, 1998. I was there as one of the trustees for the International Interreligious Peace Council. This is a group of leaders representing faith communities from around the world who come together to promote peace interreligiously. They visit areas of the world where there is conflict or violence in order to identify and foster a nonviolent solution to the discord. The Bishop of San Cristóbal, Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, is a member of the Peace Council, along with the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu, Maha Ghosananda (Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism), Joan Chittister, OSB and ten others. We had spent just about a week in the Chiapas area trying to urge a dialogue towards peace with justice between the indigenous communities and the Mexican government. This was the last day, our final dinner together. Father Gonzalo Ituarte, O.P., Don Samuel's assistant and also on the Board of Trustees of the Peace Council, was sitting opposite me. In a moment of concluding reflection, looking down to the other end of the table where Maha Ghosananda was sitting quietly, with his usual gentle, peaceful smile, Gonzalo said to me: 'You know, after these three years of knowing Maha and coming to feel his deep holiness, peace, and persistent commitment to justice, I could never, never try, or even think of trying, to convert him to Christianity. That would make no sense. It would be wrong. Knowing him, working with him, I am convinced that he should remain what he is, a holy Buddhist.' And then Gonzalo stopped, took another sip of the tequila we were sharing, and added: 'I'm certain of what I just said. And yet, it contradicts what I'm supposed to believe as a Christian.'