01 November 2022, The Tablet

Interfaith dialogue 'a priority for world peace'

After the forum, Schönborn will join Pope Francis for the prayer for peace in Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral in Awali.

Interfaith dialogue 'a priority for world peace'

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
CNS photo/Paul Haring

Interfaith dialogue is of the utmost priority for world peace, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said in an interview for Kathpress before leaving Vienna for Bahrain.

Together with 200 religious leaders and research scientists, the cardinal will be taking part in the two-day “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue” at the invitation of the President of the Supreme Council for Islamic affairs, Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Khalifa, from 3-5 November. 

All religions had three fundamental things in common, Schönborn recalled. They shared a common source, had a relation to transcendence and a common responsibility for justice and peace.

“Different cultures and different languages are, in the final instance, only a differentiation within one family”, Schönborn pointed out. Pope Francis had emphasised this in Fratelli tutti, his third encyclical, he recalled, but it had already been underlined in 1937 by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge”, in which the Pope had sharply criticised all forms of racism.

All religions moreover related to transcendence which created a broad base for dialogue. And thirdly, they also had a common responsibility for peace and justice. “The idea that we will all finally have to take responsibility for our actions” was common to all religions, Schönborn recalled. 

Pope Francis will attend the forum’s closing ceremony on 4 November.

After attending the forum, Schönborn will join Pope Francis for the ecumenical prayer for peace in Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral in Awali on 4 November and at the Mass in Bahrain stadium on 5 November.

Pope Francis wants to build further bridges to Islam, Bishop Paul Hinder, the Apostolic Administrator of Northern Arabia, told the Swiss Catholic agency Kath.ch on 31 October. 

“It is a matter of theological dialogue but also of practical work for peace, of justice and of taking care of our common home”, Hinder pointed out. With his open, heartfelt manner, Pope Francis went down well in the Arab world, was highly esteemed by the King of Bahrain, and seen as a “genuine friend of Islam”. The Pope’s trips to Abu Dhabi, Morocco, Iraq, Kazakhstan and now to Bahrain showed quite clearly how important Islam was to Francis.

As the Pope’s visit was an official state visit, the King of Bahrain would cover almost the entire cost and, together with the Vatican police and the Swiss Guard, would also be responsible for the Pope’s security, Hinder explained. 

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