Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths

Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths

by Catholic Social Action Office

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'This Fall, St. Susanna (Mason) and St. Francis de Sales (Cincinnati) parishes each engaged in a three-week dialogue series with their Muslim neighbors from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and the Clifton mosque. Called "Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths," the Archdiocesan-designed process brought together dozens of Catholics and Muslims to teach each other about their respective faiths. They began by reviewing the Catholic Church's official calls for such encounters and agreeing to groundrules for interfaith dialogue. The groups visited each other's houses of worship and received overviews of each faith's tenets from their respective clergy. In this picture, pastor Fr. Gene Contadino leads members of the Clifton mosque on a tour of the beautiful church of St. Francis de Sales in East Walnut Hills. One participant's reflection seemed to sum up the general evaluation of both groups: “This is so wonderful - how can we get other people to talk to each other like this?” We look forward to many more parishes engaging in such encounters in the months ahead.

“Sometimes Christians and Muslims fear and distrust one another as a result of past misunderstandings and conflict…We have many spiritual resources in common which we must share with one another as we work for a more human world.” - St. John Paul II

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In November, hundreds of Catholics and Lutherans gathered at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Centerville to prayerfully commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt (ELCA Southern Ohio Synod) and Bishop Joseph Binzer (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) presided over the Common Prayer Service, which was also used by Pope Francis and Lutheran leaders in Lund, Sweden last year. Music was performed by a joint choir from Epiphany and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Together, we gave thanks for our growing unity, repented for the harm caused, and committed to continuing our work together to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The prayer service capped off an amazing year of activities between the Archdiocese and Synod, involving over a thousand Catholics and Lutherans. The two faith communities have resolved to continue the relationship by jointly addressing the opioid and addiction crisis impacting our families, churches and neighborhoods.'