France: Interfaith Events Held in the Spirit of Assisi

Source: FSSPX News

On October 17, 2011, during a press conference in Paris, the Most Reverend Michel Santier, Bishop of Créteil and Chairman of the Council for Interreligious Relations of the French Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that many Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists will join together “in prayer” in more than 25 French cities, from Paris to Marseille via Bordeaux, from October to December, during marches, vigils and meetings, on the occasion of the celebration on October 27th in Assisi of the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting for peace.

These local initiatives are encouraged by the French episcopacy, which sent a guide to every diocese to help them develop spiritual proposals with other religions. “Peace is the fundamental aspiration of the human being. We can not be Christian without desiring peace for all men,” insists Bishop Michael Santier. According to him, the Assisi meeting shows above all the willingness of religions “to work together for the peace and unity of humanity” and their conviction that “the spiritual experience is an integral part of the human person.” The Bishop of Créteil declared that “September 11, 2001 changed the game” in the world and believes that, at the meeting, religious leaders should reaffirm the principles of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, threatened in a number of countries .

“What is interreligious dialogue in France?” asked a reporter. Bishop Santier replied that the spirit of Assisi has not stopped blowing, “Despite the difficult environment, there is a growing number of interfaith groups.” This does not preclude the proclamation of the Gospel; it “invites us to consider the foundations of our own faith.”  Nevertheless, it must be recognized that a reluctance towards interfaith dialogue occurs, even within the French episcopacy. Among the stumbling blocks, he cites mixed marriages that lead some Christians to convert to Islam so as to marry a Muslim.

In Assisi, on this October 27th, Bishop Michel Santier will represent the French episcopacy, accompanied by Father Christopher Roucou, Director of the National Service for Relations with Islam of the French Conference of Bishops. (Source: APICS - DICI No. 243 of 28/10/11)

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