Young Imams, Priests, Rabbis


Young Imams, Rabbis and Priests : Knowing each other’s religion

In recent times, many eminent religious figures from different religions have expressed their deep concern at the rise of intolerance and extremism in the context of globalization and political and socioeconomic upheavals. Given the responsibility of religious leaders to cultivate the values of tolerance and respect for others, they have underlined the importance of familiarizing future religious leaders with the other monotheistic religions and the values that they share.

This is the core idea of the project "Know the religion of thy neighbor". It is clearly not the intention of the project to proselytize but to complement the work done for decades by men and women of good will in the context of interfaith dialogue.

 

FIRST INITIATIVE: A BOOK TO BE USED IN THE TRAINING OF YOUNG THEOLOGIANS

The project aims to produce a book, which will present the founding themes of the three monotheistic religions, in order to introduce in the training of young rabbis, priests, pastors and imams, an introduction to the knowledge of the other religions.

The book will be translated into many languages, into French, English, Arabic, Turkish and Hebrew at first. It will be reviewed and approved by members of the High Interfaith Committee, composed of some of the most respected figures of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The validation of these texts by these great religious leaders will give them enough authority to be used in the different religious seminaries where future religious leaders are trained.

The book, of about 300 pages, will consist of two parts and will also include a preface on the history of interfaith dialogue with a few chronological elements.

The first part will present the fundamentals, the dogma and the history of each of the three monotheistic religions. The various churches and denominations within each monotheistic religion will be represented. Thus, the chapter on Christianity will include texts of the Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox. Similarly, the Sunni and Shiite traditions will be presented.

The second part will address several themes and their treatment by each of the three religions. These themes are yet to be finalized by the religious authorities of each respective religion, but here are some examples:

-        Transcendence and the sacred: relationship to God, human responsibility, determinism, etc,

-        Morality: social justice, charity, compassion, etc,

-        Ethics and bioethics,

-        Relationship with followers of other faiths and non-believers,

-        Role of women, child rearing and family,

-        Prayers: place, time, role,

-        Individual and collective rites.

THE INITIAL COMPOSITION OF THE HIGH INTERFAITH COMMITTEE

The High Interfaith Committee, co-chaired by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, Chief Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat, UNESCO Chairholder (Network of mutual knowledge of the religions of the Book) and Dr. Ali El-Samman, President of the International Union for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue and Peace Education (ADIC), will bring together the highest dignitaries of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The following religious figures will be invited to join the committee:

 

-        Christianity (Catholicism) : Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue ; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris ; Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon ; Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity ; and Michael Fitzgerald, former papal nuncio to Egypt and delegate to the Arab League.

 

-        Christianity (Protestantism) : Reverend Dr. Jerry Pillay, president of World Communion of Reformed Churches ; Reverend Munib A. Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation ; the pastor Claude Baty, former president of the Protestant Federation of France ; the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams ; and the pastor Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches.

 

-        Christianity (Orthodox): the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew Ist; the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill Ist; and Emmanuel, Metropolitan of France.

 

-        Islam (Sunni) : the former Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa ; the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Ceric ; the former Grand Mufti of Istanbul Mustafa Cagrici ; the Moroccan minister for Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq ; El Hadj Ravane Mbaye, Senegal’s spiritual leader ; Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Paris mosque ; and Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

 

-        Islam (Shiite) : Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazada (Caucasus) ; Ayatollah Abolghassem Al-Dibaji (Kuwait) ; Ayatollah Ahmed Iravani (Qom) ; and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Ghazvini (USA).

 

-        Judaism : the Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar ; the Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis ; the former Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim ; the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Sir Jonathan Sacks ; the former Chief Rabbi of France René-Samuel Sirat ; Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz ; Chief Rabbi David Rosen, director of American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious ; Dr. Norman Lamm, chancellor of Yeshiva University (USA) ;  and Arnold M. Eisen, director of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Meir Waintrater , journalist, writer and essayist , former director of the magazine Arche , coordinates the project.