Pope Francis Confirms the Martyrdom
Of the Trappist Monks of Tibhirine

On Friday 26 January 2018, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decrees concerning, among others, the martyrdom of the Servants of God Peter Claverie, Bishop of Oran, and 18 Companions, Men and Women Religious; killed, in hatred of the Faith, in Algeria from 1994 to 1996.

Included among the “18  Companions, Men and Women Religious” were the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine who were abducted on the night of 26–27 March 1996, and who were confirmed to have been killed in late May.

English translation of the decree at Vatican News.

Evangelization or Dialogue?
Which Comes First?

During the in-flight press conference that Pope Francis gave as he returned to Rome on December 2 from his apostolic voyage to Myanmar and Bangladesh, he was asked about the relationship between interreligious dialogue and evangelization:

Etienne Loraillère, KTO (French Catholic television): Your Holiness, this is a question from the journalists from France. There are those who say that interreligious dialogue and evangelization are opposed to one another. During this trip, you spoke about dialogue as a way of building peace. But what is primary: evangelizing for peace or dialoguing for peace? Evangelization is meant to bring about conversions, and this can cause tensions and sometimes conflicts among believers. What is your priority: evangelization or dialogue?

Pope Francis: Thank you. First, let me make a distinction: evangelizing is not proselytizing. The Church does not grow through proselytism, but through attraction, that is, by giving testimony. Pope Benedict XVI already noted this. To evangelize means living the Gospel [Com’è l’evangelizzazione? E’ vivere il Vangelo]; it means giving witness to how the Gospel is lived; giving witness to the Beatitudes, to Matthew 25, to the Good Samaritan, to forgiving seventy times seven times. It is in and through this witness that the Holy Spirit works and conversion takes place. We’re not all that enthusiastic about making conversions right away. If they happen, that takes time: we talk [about] your tradition . . . Conversion has to be a response to something that the Holy Spirit has stirred up in my heart because of the witness given by a Christian.

In the lunch I had with some fifteen young people from all over the world during Youth Day in Cracow, one of them asked me, "What should I say to a friend of mine at the university, who is a fine fellow, but an atheist? What should I tell him to change him, to convert him? I said to him, The last thing you have to do is say something. Live out the Gospel, and if he asks you why you live like this, you can tell him why. Let the Holy Spirit attract him. in conversions, the Holy Spirit works with strength and gentleness. It is not a matter of intellectually convincing people with apologetics and reasons. It is the Spirit that brings about conversion. We are witnesses to the Spirit, witnesses to the Gospel. The Greek word for witness is martyr: the martyrdom of daily living, the martyrdom of blood, should that come about. . . . You asked, “What has priority, peace or conversion?” When one gives witness respectfully, one makes peace. Peace begins to break down when proselytism enters the scene—there are many different ways of proselytizingbut this is not the way of the Gospel

The full text of the in-flight press conference  in German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguse is on the website of the Holy See.
An English translation is available at Vatican News.
The above translation was made from Italian by William Skudlarek


In his address to the Supreme Sangha Council of Buddhist monks in Myanmar on November 29, Pope Francis offered the words of the Buddha and of Saint Francis as guides who help us “to surmount all forms of misunderstanding, intolerance, prejudice and hatred”:

“The great challenge of our day is to help people be open to the transcendent.  To be able to look deep within and to know themselves in such a way as to see their interconnectedness with all people.  To realize that we cannot be isolated from one another.  If we are to be united, as is our purpose, we need to surmount all forms of misunderstanding, intolerance, prejudice and hatred.  How can we do this?  The words of the Buddha offer each of us a guide: ‘Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth’ (Dhammapada, XVII, 223).  Similar sentiments are voiced in a prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  Where there is injury, let me bring pardon…  Where there is darkness, let me bring light, and where there is sadness, joy’.”

The full text of Pope Francis’ address can be found on the website of the Holy See.  

“Unity of God – Unity in God”  
Monastics and Muslims in Dialogue
Nairobi, Kenya, September 2-7, 2017

The first interreligious conference in Africa sponsored by Monastic Interreligious Dialogue took place in early September at the Subiaco Centre of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Karen (Nairobi), Kenya. The gathering brought together 23 participants from 14 countries: 10 Shi‘a Muslims and 13 Benedictines, the majority of them from African monasteries.
A report on the meeting, along with links to a photo gallery, the full schedule, testimonials from the participants, and the initial monastic presentations can be found in the current issue of Dilatato Corde.

Iberian Peninsula DIMMID Commission
Signs Statement Condemning Terrorist Attacks

The DIMMID Commission of the Iberian Peninsula was one of more than thirty religious and interreligious groups, federations, associations, and authorities who signed a statement firmly and unequivocally rejecting the terrorist acts that took place in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; aka as Daesh) claimed responsibility for these attacks. The statement, in Spanish, can be accessed here.

Letter of Pope Francis to
Interfaith Prayer Meeting in Japan

Pope Francis has sent a letter to the 30th Prayer Meeting on Mount Hiei in Kyoto, Japan, inviting all religions to “pray and work together for peace.”
“It is my pleasure to send my cordial greetings to you and to the distinguished representatives of the different religious traditions,” he wrote.
The Pope’s letter was delivered and read to participants by Cardinal John Tong Hon, Bishop-emeritus of Hong Kong.
It was addressed to Venerable Koei Morikawa, the Supreme Priest of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, with whom Pope Francis met privately in the Vatican on September 16, 2016.
“This annual religious summit contributes in a special way to the building up of that spirit of dialogue and friendship which allows the followers of the world’s religions to work together to open new paths for peace in our human family.”
Pope Francis also said prayer “inspires and sustains our efforts for peace, because it helps to deepen our reciprocal respect for each other as persons, strengthens the bonds of love between us, and spurs us to make decisive efforts towards promoting just relations and fraternal solidarity.”
The annual prayer meeting closes on 6 August in commemoration of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Source: 2017-08-03 Vatican Radio

Interviews with Interreligious Leaders
ROME - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue set out several years ago to produce a short film on 50 years of Catholic dialogue with members of other religions and ended up with a treasure trove for researchers.

The three-part film, “The Leaven of Good,” marked the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 document on relations with other religions. Watch the film here.
To make the film, the council conducted on-camera interviews with about 100 people to recount “the experience of dialogue by different persons, from different religions and different parts of the world,” said Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, council secretary.
Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is giving a permanent, online home to the interviews on “DigitalGeorgetown,” an official university portal. The first 43 interviews were posted in early June.
--Cindy Wooden, June 9, 2017, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Posted by CRUX

Pope Francis at Al-Azhar
to the participants in the international peace conference at the Al-Azhar Conference Center in Cairo on April 20, during his apostolic journey to Egypt, Pope Francis said, “Precisely in the field of dialogue, particularly interreligious dialogue, we are constantly called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures. In this regard, the work of the Mixed Committee for Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue offers us a concrete and encouraging example. Three basic areas, if properly linked to one another, can assist in this dialogue: the duty to respect one’s own identity and that of othersthe courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.” Read the entire speech.

Iran's Book of the Year World Award names winners
Abbot Timothy Wright and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali were selected for special recognition for their contribution to interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Shi'a Muslims at "The 24th World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 2017." At the closing ceremony in Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on February 7, they, along with other laureates, were honored by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In 2003, when Abbot Timothy was abbot of Ampleforth, he and Dr. Shomali began a series of dialogues between Catholics and Iranian Shi’a Muslims. These dialogues, in which DIMMID is now formally engaged, have continued down to the present day. The next gathering is scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in September of this year.

More information on the book awards at Iran’s Book News Agency.

European Network for Buddhist-Christian Studies (ENBCS)
Conference  Meditation in Buddhist-Christian Encounter: A Critical Analysis
The twelfth European Network for Buddhist-Christian Studies (ENBCS) conference will take place June 29 to July 3, 2017, at the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona. This year’s conference is dedicated to a critical analysis of meditation in Buddhist-Christian Encounter. Invited speakers will address five themes from Buddhist and Christian perspectives: the place of meditation in Buddhism and Christianity from a critical historical perspective; Buddhist-Christian encounter and the Zen tradition; the hesychastic tradition and Buddhist meditation; Mindfulness and Buddhist-Christian encounter; meditation and action in Buddhist-Christian encounter.

More information regarding the program and registration can be found on the ENBCS website.

Francis X. Clooney on Rabindranath Tagore's 'Gitanjali'

Interreligious learning is hard work, never what we had first expected” writes Jesuit Fr. Francis Xavier Clooney in his essay for “Take and Read,” a weekly blog of the National Catholic Reporter that features reflections on a specific book that changed peoples’ lives.

When he was a 22-year old teacher at a Jesuit boarding school for Hindu and Buddhist boys Nepal, Clooney was deeply moved by a chance reading of Gitanjali, a collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagorethat he himself translated into English.

Now, when Clooney’s scholarship “stands in-between, on that uncertain yet wondrous edge between the Hindu and the Christian. . . . poised as a Catholic’s reading of Hindu texts (largely poetry), going deep inside a Hindu tradition here or there, but then returning, changed, to a now changed Christian tradition,” he finds that Gitanjali is still “a meeting point of East and West, Hindu and Christian, potent in an age of disenchantment but also beyond it.”

His essay, “In ‘Gitanjali,’ I found wisdom, lost it, and found it again” can be accessed here.

Interreligious Pilgrimage to Saint Peter's Basilica
Two days before the closing of the Holy Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, Religions for Peace and other interreligious bodies organized an Interreligious Pilgrimage to Saint Peter’s Basilica. Dr. Corrina Mülhstedt (on the right in the picture), a theologian and journalist who took part in the 2012 and 2016 Monastic-Muslim dialogues in Iran, reported that hundreds of people, Buddhists and Hindu, Muslims and Christians of different denominations, went together through the door of God’s mercy praying, singing and forgiving each other.

Some Catholic participants in the pilgrimage prepared the following statement:

“Prior to the closure of the Holy Year, it is important to give a particular sign for peace by going through the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the company of our brothers and sisters from other (world) religions. In our zeal for global mission we were not always able as Catholics to do mission with respect for the difference among religions. Even within the dialogue of religions of today we fail sometimes to love our religious neighbour to the full.  Therefore we come together to pray and to ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoing towards other religions, and to forgive the wrongdoing of our religious neighbours to us.”

 Visit of Pope Francis to Assisi for the World Day of Prayer for Peace
"Thirst for Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue"20 September 2016

"Our religious traditions are diverse. But our differences are not the cause of conflict and dispute, or a cold distance between us. We have not prayed against one another today, as has unfortunately sometimes occurred in history. Without syncretism or relativism, we have rather prayed side by side and for each other. In this very place Saint John Paul II said: “More perhaps than ever before in history, the intrinsic link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace has become evident to all” (Address, Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, 27 October 1986: Insegnamenti IX,2, 1268). . . .

"We who are here together and in peace believe and hope in a fraternal world. We desire that men and women of different religions may everywhere gather and promote harmony, especially where there is conflict. Our future consists in living together. For this reason we are called to free ourselves from the heavy burdens of distrust, fundamentalism and hate. Believers should be artisans of peace in their prayers to God and in their actions for humanity! As religious leaders, we are duty bound to be strong bridges of dialogue, creative mediators of peace. . . .

"Men and women of various religions, we gather as pilgrims in the city of Saint Francis. Thirty years ago in 1986, religious representatives from all over the world met here at the invitation of Pope John Paul II. It was the first such solemn gathering that brought so many together, in order to affirm the indissoluble bond between the great good of peace and an authentic religious attitude. From that historic event, a long pilgrimage was begun which has touched many cities of the world, involving many believers in dialogue and in praying for peace. It has brought people together without denying their differences, giving life to real interreligious friendships and contributing to the resolution of more than a few conflicts. This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism." Read the complete address

L'hommage de Paris aux moines de Tibhrine
Paris Honors the Monks of Tibhirine

[English translation below]
La ville de Paris rend hommage lundi [30 mai] aux sept moines de Tibhirine enlevés puis assassinés en 1996, en inaugurant un jardin en leur mémoire. Les organisateurs entendent ainsi rendre hommage au "message d'amitié, d'ouverture et de dialogue" avec les musulmans, porté par les religieux.
Le square Saint-Ambroise, dans le 11ème arrondissement, sera rebaptisé lundi "jardin des moines de Tibhirine".
 Enlevés dans la nuit du 26 au 27 mars 1996 au monastère Notre-Dame de l'Atlas, les sept frères de l'ordre cistercien de la stricte observance avaient été déclarés morts par un communiqué du GIA, le Groupe islamique armé, le 23 mai. Les têtes des moines trappistes avaient été retrouvées le 30 mai 1996.
Située en face du square, le jardin sera inauguré par la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo, en présence de proches des moines et de représentants des différentes religions, a précisé la paroisse Saint-Ambroise. Une messe doit être célébrée auparavant dans l'église. Cliquez ici pour le discours qu'elle a prononcé à cette occasion, et ici pour l'introduction d'une exposition dans l'église offerte par le curé de la paroisse Saint Ambroise.
[cf. Article dans La Croix]

 On Monday, May 30, the city of Paris dedicated a garden in honor of the seven monks of Tibhirine who were kidnapped and then assassinated in 1996. By doing so, the organizers of the event intended to pay tribute to their “message of friendship and openness to dialogue” with Muslims.
The Square of Saint Ambrose in the 11th arrondissement will now be called the “Garden of the Monks of Tibhirine.”
Taken from their monastery in the night of March 26/27, 1996, the seven Trappist monks were pronounced dead by a communiqué of the GIA, the Armed Islamic Group, on May 23. Their severed heads were recovered on this day twenty years ago.
The garden was dedicated by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, in the presence of the families and friends of the monks and representatives of various religions. Click here for the speech she gave on that occasion, and here for the introduction to an exhibit in the church given by the pastor of Saint Ambrose Parish.

Monks and Muslims IV
A fourth meeting of Catholic monastic men and women with Shi’a Muslims took place in the Iranian cities of Qom and Mashhad, May 9-14, 2016. The host for this year’s meeting was Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies in Qom and the Head of the Islamic Center of England.
         DIMMID’s dialogue with Iranian Shi’a Muslims began in 2011 as a sequel to three Christian-Shi’a Muslim dialogues that were organized by Dr. Shomali and Abbot Timothy Wright (Ampleforth). Those meetings took place in the UK in 2003, 2005, and 2007. The four specifically “Monastic/Muslim” gatherings that followed were held in Rome (September 2011); in Qom and Isfahan (September 2012); in Assisi and Rome (October 2014), and this year in Qom and Mashhad. A fifth such gathering is being planned for September 2017 and will take place at the monastery of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing in Nairobi, Kenya.
         The theme of this year’s dialogue was “The Dignity of Being Human.” On the three full days that were spent in Qom, each of the morning sessions was devoted to presenting and discussing two papers, one by a Shi’a Muslim, the other by a Catholic monastic. The afternoons were taken up by visits to museums, shrines, and a few of the 300 or so educational institutions that comprise the Qom Seminary whose students and faculty number 85,000 (75,000 Iranian; 10,000 international). These visits usually involved a presentation by the director of the institution, a discussion, and a meal. This collection of photos will give a sense of the different venues and activities of the week. Read more.

Pope Francis on Dialogue in Amoris Laetitia
In his post-synodal exhortation Amoris laetitia,  on “Love in the Family, issued on April 8, 2016, Pope Francis includes a section on dialogue. Mutatis mutandis, many of the points he makes can well be applied to interreligious dialogue. For instance, he writes, “Keep an open mind. Don’t get bogged down in your own limited ideas and opinions, but be prepared to change or expand them. The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both.” Or, “Fearing the other person as a kind of ‘rival’ is a sign of weakness and needs to be overcome.” For the complete section devoted to “dialogue,” click here.

Tibhirine--Twenty Years Later
Easter Sunday marked the twentieth-anniversary of the kidnapping of seven Trappist monks from their monastery at Tibhirine in Algeria. Two months later they were killed. A report from Vatican Radio can be read and heard here.
The award-winning film, “Of Gods and Men,” portrays the close personal and spiritual relationship that bound this monastic community to their Muslim neighbors and their decision not to abandon them, even though not leaving their monastery put their lives in jeopardy.
In the this clip from the DIMMID documentary film “Strangers No More,” there are some scenes with Fr Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last survivor of the Tibhirine community.

Film on Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Now Available for Purchase
“Strangers No More,” the English version of a 52-minute documentary film on Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, can now be purchased from the Saint John’s Abbey Gift Shop. The film was premiered last October at the Collège des Bernadins in Paris and at the World Parliament of Religions in Salt Lake City.
Made by Lizette Lemoine and Aubin Hellot of “Les films du large,” the documentary highlights the work that has been done by Dialogue Interreligious Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID) for more than 40 years. Filmed in France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Morocco, and the United States, it shows the many ways and settings in which Christian monks and nuns have met and shared hospitality with Buddhists, Hindus, and Shiite and Sufi Muslims in a dialogue focused on spiritual practice and experience.
The French version of the film, “La voie de l’hospitalité” can be purchased from the Abbey of En-Calcat or from Eole-agape.

PCID: Annual Meeting on Interreligious Dialogue
(VIS) The annual meeting between the officials of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the staff of the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC), took place from 3 to 4 February in Geneva, Switzerland. Appropriately this was during Interfaith Harmony Week.
The meeting included reflection, prayer and the sharing of information regarding activities which had been carried out during 2015, as well as the discussion of plans for 2016. The staff of the two offices have collaborated in a variety of ways during recent years, either through joint initiatives, such as the publication of the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” (2011), or by each other’s supportive participation in events or projects organized by their respective offices.
2015 had marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which is recognised by the World Council of Churches, to have been a seminal moment in the history of Christian relationships with other religions. The meeting in 2106 offered the opportunity to reflect on future partnerships between the two institutions, in the light of their mutual desire to build further on the impetus given by the celebration of this important document. (Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention for January: Interreligious Dialogue
In January, Pope Francis, speaking in Spanish, made a short video asking for prayer that sincere dialogue among men and women of different religions bring about the fruit of peace and justice. The version of the video with English subtitles can be seen here. (Es gibt auch eine Version mit Untertiteln in Deutsch.)

Kenyan Muslims Killed for Defending Christians
On Monday, December 21, a Somali militant group attacked a passenger bus plying the Mandera Nairobi route in Kenya, killing two passengers and seriously wounding three.
This tragedy came after a similar assault that occurred on the same route on November 22, 2015. On that occasion the militants stopped the bus, ordered all passengers out, separated the Muslims from the Christians, and then shot and killed all 28 Christians at close range.
The more recent act of violence revealed a totally different picture. When the militants stopped the bus and tried to enter it, Shukri Farah, the driver, a Muslim, refused to open the door. Instead, he asked the Muslim women on the bus to give a hijab to the Christian women and the Muslim men to share caps with the Christian men so that all would appear to be Muslims.
The militants soon succeeded in forcing the door open and ordered all Christians to leave the bus. Not convinced by the driver’s claim that the passengers were all Muslims, the militants ordered everyone to get off and tried to separate the Christians from the Muslims. The Muslims refused to cooperate and told the militants to kill them all or spare them all.
Sensing danger when they heard a vehicle approaching, the militants shot and killed two of the Muslims who were defending the Christian passengers and wounded the driver and two others before disappearing in the nearby bush.
Source: Standard Digital News Kenya

From Kenyans.coke, January 18, 2016
A teacher, who was among the group that shielded non-Muslims from an Al-Shabaab attack in December 2015, has died
Salah Farah passed away on Sunday night at Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, where he was undergoing specialised treatment.

According to his brother Rasheed, he had been airlifted to Nairobi after the attack, but succumbed to his wounds.
Mr Farah, who was the deputy headteacher at Mandera Township Primary School, was reportedly among the muslims who had protected christians from being killed while enroute to Nairobi. During the December 21 attack, two people including Farah were critically injured while two others died at the scene.

“They refused to separate from non-Muslims and told the attackers to kill all passengers or leave. That is why some locals were injured trying to protect non Muslim passengers,” Mandera Governor Ali Roba said on the material day.
The passengers later ran into the bus and drove off after the militiamen took off upon hearing an oncoming vehicle approaching the scene of the incident. 

MALWID AL-NABI - The Birth of the Prophet
This year, December 24, one day before Christmas, marks the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, so the dates move forward every year, not remaining stable like the Gregorian calendar.
Prophet Muhammad's birthday is not celebrated like Christmas. It has not become a huge commercial enterprise. Indeed, in some countries it is not celebrated at all, and such activities are frowned upon, accused of being innovations. But in the majority of countries with a large Muslim population there are celebrations to mark the day. In Pakistan there is a 31-gun salute in the capital, and 21-gun salute in smaller capitals, with religious hymns being sung. In other countries hymns are sung, there are parades with large wax candles in the procession. Morning prayers are held, and throughout the night recitals of the Quran and prayers continue. In addition to recitations of the Quran, the story of the prophet's birth is retold, poems dedicated to the prophet are recited, food is distributed to the poor, and many other such events. It is said that these practices to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birth started around 900 years ago, although some claim that the birth of the prophet was celebrated by the tabi'in (successors to the companions of the prophet), who also recited poetry in commemoration.
The most famous Turkish Mawlid poem was written 700 years ago by Süleyman Çelebi. The poem relates the birth and life of the prophet; it is recited throughout Turkey, as well as in many other countriesThe Mawlid is a celebration of love and sharing; much like Christmas, it is about the community and about celebrating giving.

[Excerpted from Jane Louise Kandur, “Holy Days Are A Reason for Coming Together” in the December 19, 2015 issue of DAILY SABAH (Istanbul).]

In Rome, the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation on October 28, 1965, of Nostra ætate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, was especially marked by the general papal audience on October 28, 2015, and by an International Congress organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in collaboration with the Commission for Religious Relationships with Jews, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Gregorian University.

The Secretary General of DIMMID, William Skudlarek OSB, was invited to offer a word of greeting to the participants in the International Congress, and also to greet Pope Francis personally on behalf of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. The proceedings of the congress will be published in a future issue of Pro Dialogo, the journal of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The address given by Pope Francis at the general audience and well as photos from the conference and an order form for a video produced by the PCID marking 50 years of Nostra Aetate can be found on the website of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Bieke Vanderkerckhove suffered from ALS (a degenerative neurological disease, aka Lou Gehrig's disease), for more than twenty years. In her book The Taste of Silence How I Came to Be at Home with Myself, recently published by Liturgical Press, she describes how the practice of Benedictine spirituality and Zen meditation became the two lungs through which she breathed.

In 2014 she received formal transmission as Zen Master (Ch'an Ssu) in the Chinese Ch'an tradition from internationally known Zen Master Prof. Ton Lathouwers, himself the Dharma-Successor of Ch'an Master Teh Cheng, longtime head of the Guang Hua Ch'an School in China. On that occasion, she received the name Xia Fan Zhi Guang, meaning "Light of Kenosis."Until recently she regularly conducted Zen meetings and retreats at Sint-Andries Abbey in Zevenkerken, Belgium.

Bieke Vanderkerckhove died on September 7th. A moving tribute, written by Patrick Henry, appears on the website of ON BEING with Krista Tippitt.

Ven. Kusala Bhikshu (Thich Tam-Thien), an American born Buddhist monk ordained in the Zen Tradition of Vietnam, has recently created a website that features the Catholic/Buddhist dialogues organized by the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. The website,, includes the “Gethsemani Encounters,” which began in 1996, Benedict’s Dharma 1 and 2, and the six meetings of “Nuns in the West” and “Monks in the West.”

Kusala is the web-master for International Buddhist Meditation Center, as well as his own site

PRAYER Exploring Contemplative Prayer through Eastern and Western Spirituality
Prayer is the work of the French Benedictine monk Swami Abhishiktananda (Dom Henri Le Saux, OSB) whose encounter with Indian spirituality over a period of twenty-five years deepened and enriched his Christian faith beyond measure. The fruits of this profound spiritual experience are to be found in this treasured volume which is now republished in a revised and enlarged edition prepared by Swami Atmananda Udasin (Chief Editor), and the Editorial Board of the Abhishiktananda Centre for Interreligious Dialogue (Delhi Brotherhood Society).
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