The Fifth Doha Conference of Interfaith Dialogue in Qatar, from which Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths has just returned, was, he says, encouraging evidence of the world-wide growth of interfaith co-operation. The meeting brought together over one hundred and fifty Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars. The opening address was given by the President of Al Azhar University in Cairo, who reminded the audience that the Qur’an says that God could have made people all the same, but instead God wishes us to respect each other’s cultures and religions. Despite the difficulties, several speakers, including Muslims and Jews from Jerusalem, insisted that dialogue was the only way to peace. The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Theophilus George Saliba from Mount Lebanon summed up the message of the conference when he said, ‘Frequent meetings involving representatives of different faiths will help reduce global tension and conflict.’ Plans, announced at the Conference, to establish a Centre for Inter-faith Dialogue at the University will help to achieve this.
The recent visit of a delegation from Morocco, where a study of other religions is to become part of theological syllabus, and the establishment of an Abrahamic Forum in Lisbon are just a few other recent examples of the growth of interfaith dialogue. Welcome developments in Northern Ireland confirm the hope that dialogue is indeed the way to peace.