In Our Times: Seminar for the 40th Anniversary of the Declaration "Nostra Aetate" (13 November, 2005)
This Seminar took place at the Thomas Carr Centre in Victoria Pde on Sunday 13th November, 2005, to mark the 40th anniversary of the landmark Vatican II declaration on the Church’s relation to non-Christian religions. About 120 people made up the crowd at this event, comprising a goodly number of younger people (something which indicates the contemporary interest in interfaith relations) and a sizable number of guests from other religions (especially Buddhist and Hindu, but also Jewish and Muslim).
Bishop Christopher Prowse began by welcoming all participants, and stressing that the development of interfaith relations is a central part of the Church’s mission. As radical as it may seem for the Church to reach out in friendship to other faiths, interreligious dialogue is “mainstream”, not peripheral to the Church’s agenda.
The main speaker for the day was the well known human rights lawyer, Julian Burnside QC. Julian graciously gave his time to address us, choosing as his topic a comparison of the political and religious tensions in today’s community to that of England 400 years ago in the time of the Gunpowder Plot. Julian also reprimanded us for keeping Nostra Aetate “a secret”. Not only does the wider community not know about it, but other religions, other Christians, and even many Catholics are completely unaware of the official teaching of the Church in regard to those of other faiths.
(If you yourself have not read Nostra Aetate, you may find the document here.)
After a kosher afternoon tea, the participants broke into discussion groups on how interfaith dialogue could be advanced in Melbourne. The groups were facilitated by two co-chairs, one Catholic, and the other of another religion: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu. At the end of the workshops, Fr John Dupuche, Swami Sannyasanand (Yogi) and Ven. Lobsang Tendar (Tibetan Buddhist) conducted a closing ritual of meditation.
A transcript of Julian Burnside's address for the day is being prepared. We also have a sound recording available on CD. Please phone or email our office for either of these.
Photographs of the day can be viewed on Peter Casamento's website (and purchased from him) here.