2012-08-03 Vatican RadioThe Salesians of Don Bosco are holding a series of Study Days at their Rome Generalate to assess the Salesian Presence among Muslims and determine areas for action. The study sessions, organized jointly by the Missions Departments of the SDB and the FMA, began Monday and run through Saturday, August 4 and follow similar initiatives carried out over the past decade.
The current Study Days precede Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Lebanon this September where he will deliver to bishops of the region the Apostolic Exhortation or concluding document of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East held two years ago in the Vatican.
2010 statistics from the “PEW Institute” indicate a world population of 1.6 billion Muslims, with an annual increase of 1.5%. By the year 2030, 60% of the world’s Muslims are expected to be in the Asia-Pacific region and it is believed that Pakistan will surpass Indonesia to become the country with the largest number of Muslims.
Fr. Václav Klement, Salesian Councillor for the Missions says about 30 Provinces are in daily contact with young Muslims; and the Salesians are seeing an increasing trend of similar nature in European Provinces.
Fr. Klement also points out that “there are hundreds of Salesians born in countries with a Muslim majority, who grew up within Christian communities which had the opportunity to be in a dialogue of life with Muslim brothers and sisters and with the different Muslim cultures.”
But he acknowledges that one of the chief challenges to Salesians living in a Muslim context is that “In the whole Congregation unfortunately we have few confreres with a good academic and practical preparation (in Islamic studies).”
Listen to Tracey McClure’s interview with Fr. Vaclav Klement in which he talks about the challenges facing Salesian missionaries and what he hopes will be achieved in the Study Days: