Pope Francis in his book, “On Heaven and Earth”, says, “Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person’s point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue, it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.”1
The mission of the Office for Interreligious dialogue is to welcome people from other religions and initiate dialogue with them. We aspire to work together for the promotion of peace and harmony in our society. The guiding principles of “Nostra aetate” a document of "the Second Vatican Council" , inspires us in developing the relationship with other religious communities.
Pope Francis said, "dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. It arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words. This is an enrichment which does not consist in objects but in persons who share themselves in dialogue."2
One of the documents produced by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue inspires us about the four modes and methods of dialogue. It says, "Dialogue can be understood in different ways. Firstly, at the purely human level, it means reciprocal communication, leading to a common goal or, at a deeper level, to interpersonal communion. Secondly, dialogue can be taken as an attitude of respect and friendship, which permeates or should permeate all those activities constituting the evangelizing mission of the Church. This can appropriately be called "the spirit of dialogue". Thirdly, in the context of religious plurality, dialogue means "all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths which are directed at mutual understanding and enrichment"(6), in obedience to truth and respect for freedom. It includes both witness and the exploration of respective religious convictions. It is in this third sense that the present document uses the term dialogue for one of the integral elements of the Church's evangelizing mission."3
Recently when Pope Francis and Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb the grand Imam of Al-Azhar signed a document entitled, “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” The document reiterated that, “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters”.
In the light of this document, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/75/200 on 21 December 2020 proclaiming February 4 as the International Day of Human Fraternity to be observed every year as of 2021. It also invites all Member States to further promote a culture of peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity.
Therefore, our office aims to reassure that we follow the footsteps of our leaders and create an environment of Interreligious dialogue within the Archdiocese of Toronto and beyond. We plan to continue to serve and assist the clergy from all faith groups, parish leaders, and lay faithful within the Archdiocese of Toronto and promote interreligious dialogue among all segments of the society.
Message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to mark the following celebrations.
Ramadan 2022-"Christians and Muslims: Sharing joys and sorrows".
Mahavir Janma Kalyanka Diwas 2022-"Christians and Jains: Together nurturing a culture of peace".
Vesakh 2022-"Buddhists and Christians: Standing Together in Hopeful Resilience".
Deepavali 2021-"Christians and Hindus: Together Bringing Light in People’s Lives in Times of Despair".