MANILA, Feb. 6, 2015 –- After a Feb. 5 lecture hosted by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Theological Society and the Faculty of Sacred Theology on interreligious dialogue, a theologian stressed the importance of respect, openness and learning how to disagree peacefully with people of other faiths.

Prof. Dr. Mathijs Lamberigts, dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at KU Leuven, Belgium gives a talk on interreligious dialogue at the UST B.G. Paredes, OP building, Feb. 5, 2015. (Photo: Vanessa M. Puno)

“[Interreligious dialogue] is “knowing your own traditions, knowing the tradition of the other, respect and openness and willingness to disagree with each other in a peaceful way,” said Lamberigts in an interivew with CBCPNews.

Lamberigts, dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at KU Leuven, Belgium, gave the lecture on “The Church in today’s world: challenges posed by interreligious dialogue and religious freedom.”


According to him, the greatest challenge faced by interreligious dialogue and religious freedom is learning how to respect other religions.

“It is very difficult to respect each other’s religious freedom, each other’s consciousness, and each other’s convictions and that is in my view the basis for every interreligious dialogue,” Lamberigts explained, citing theologian Fr. Edward Cornelis Florentius Alfons Schillebeeckx throughout his lecture at the UST B.G. Paredes, OP building.

According to the professor, this emphasis on respect can be found in Vatican II church documents such as Nostra Aetate, Dignitatis Humanae and Gaudium et Spes, which also, says Schillebeeckx, stress orthopraxis over orthodoxy.

Lamberigts said a common ground is arrived at by Islamic people and Christians “who believe in one God, concern for the poor, respect for family life, and actions of solidarity.”

Humble service

Dr. Lilian Sison, Sec. Gen. of Religions for Peace Philippines, and a member of the panel of reactors, meanwhile, highlighted important points of the conciliar documents saying: “[The] Church wants to be of service to the world of today and that there is a need for orthopraxis; Catholics are in the service of their brothers and sisters that we have to be inclusive and learn how to relate with these religions.

According to her, service has to be based on respect and freedom; and recognizes respect in religious freedom, which is the basis for interreligious dialogue.

Former rector of UST, Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, OP said Chiara Lubich words, “What hurts me is mine”, may be applied in contemporary interreligious dialogue.

Referring to the founder of the Focolare Movement’s words, he said: “These words to me say that peace begins when we realize that all the sufferings and pains we endure are often of our own making. It is by only this pain that we develop a sense of belonging in the human family broken by sin and its consequences and enable us to dialogue with others in humility, reverence and freedom.”

Dialogue as experience

In an interview by CBCP News, Prof. Crescencia Gabijan, a professor at the UST Graduate School and a former protégé of Lubich, considers it a challenge to dialogue with people of other religions and to serve every person “with humility and respect.”

According to her, the need for humility is particularly needed in contexts like the Philippine setting where Christianity is a religion of the majority.

She also said is difficult for Christians to understand the minority religions so “there is a need for humility, and understanding so we should know their life situations.”

Gabijan also believes it is a present challenge, particularly in Asia, that interreligious dialogue becomes experiential and not just a concept. (Vanessa M. Puno/CBCPNews)