Some important new friendships were formed when Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCI, council secretary for the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, visited Sydney recently.
The Vatican delegation also included Monsignor Indunil Kodithuwakku, Monsignor Santiago Michael and Fr Markus Solo SVD.
They were the guests of honour at an interfaith gathering at the North Sydney campus of the Australan Catholic University, and visited Al-Faisal College in Auburn where Bishop Ayuso addressed senior students and presented a Vatican medal to the executive principal Mrs Ghazwa Adra Khan.
Also included in the visit was a trip to the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry at La Perouse and its Reconciliation Church, before an interfaith dinner hosted by Sydney auxiliary Bishop Tony Randazzo at St Mary’s Cathedral House.
Bishop Ayuso said he was impressed by efforts in Australia to promote relationships and dialogue between believers of different religious traditions.
It is “a basic element of for building community and defending the common dignity of human persons” as well as a necessity for social cohesion and peace.
Accompanying the delegation was the chair of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations Archbishop Christopher Prowse and its executive secretary Louise Zavone, and members of Sydney’s archdiocesan Commission for Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations including its director Sr Giovanni Farquer.
Sr Giovanni said that the archdiocesan commission includes theologians, pastors and members of the laity, and has worked for more than 20 years to build a network of personal relationships between our Christian brothers and sisters and people of all faiths.
“The goal here is not simply to avoid conflict but to build genuine friendships,” she said.
“As Archbishop Anthony said at his multi-religious Iftar Dinner earlier this year, ‘Though we do not all walk the same path, we are willing to offer the hand of friendship .
“Such friendship does not demand uniformity or homogenisation, but rather expresses and celebrates the enrichment that can come to us from knowing someone different.”