Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, opens in Vienna

2012-11-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A major new interreligious initiative got underway today in Vienna, Austria: the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, or KAICIID. , the initiative is a joint one of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Republic of Austria, with the Holy See participating as a Founding Observer. Ahead of a formal inauguration ceremony and dinner Monday evening, at which the Holy See is to be represented by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the estimated 600 invited participants in the inauguration held a day-long symposium looking at “best practices” in interfaith dialogue. One participant, the Director of the Archdiocese of Vienna’s Centre for Christian-Islamic Encounter, Fr. Martin Rupprecht spoke to Vatican Radio about the timeliness of the initiative. “We know that we need a new education for all,” he said, “because it is a new situation for us Austrians that we live in a multi-religious community. Still, Fr. Rupprecht explained that he is proud of some of his Centre’s work, and glad of the opportunity to share it with the KAICIID participants. “We here in Vienna have many experiences with the Muslim community – our specific experience is with the Turkish Muslim community, because most of the Muslims living in Austria are Turkish,” he explained. He went on to say, “Here, one special initiative is to bring together Catholic priests and Imams, and Catholic religious sisters with Muslim [women] pastoral workers [and] religion teachers,” adding, “on this level, we hope [for] common influence [within] our communities, our parishes.”

The impression that one might have gathered throughout the day Monday was that of a great common goal being pursued through profound personal contact and relationship building. Wandering the halls and corridors, or sitting and talking during the periodic breaks, one gathers the distinct impression of earnest and urgent work being done in a spirit of diligent patience. The conversations one could overhear were often surprisingly frank, and fearlessly humorous – as the business of brotherhood often must be if it is not to fail. For its part, the Holy See has already expressed its intention to use the new space, and its role in it as Founding Observer, to press for the effective respect of the fundamental rights of all people, especially Christians who live in countries with a Muslim majority, noting that in this way, the new Centre at Vienna shall offer a space capable of receiving the expressions and manifestations of the Church’s concerns in these regards, and for working efficaciously toward viable solutions to related problems as they arise. Here in Vienna, the work is joined.

Listen to the report by Chris Altieri: