Dialogue with people of other faiths is a major dimension of the Jesuit commitment to be companions of Jesus and servants of his mission. This mission includes being prepared to live alongside people of other faiths, acting as good neighbours to them, and being prepared to work with them for the common good.
This is especially important for Jesuits in Asia Pacific, which is home to several major religions and cultures – Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam.
For many Jesuits, the dialogue with people of other faiths expresses itself through the dialogue of religious experience – learning how to listen to what others are saying and to enter into their spiritual lives through prayer and conversation.
For a few Jesuits, dialogue means theological exchange. It demands not just face-to-face debate but a life of study and constant reflection on what God may be saying through these other religious traditions.
In Asia Pacific, Jesuits are particularly active in encouraging and promoting dialogue between Buddhists and Christians in Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.
“Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination.” ~ Nostra Aetate, 1965
We are also building a network that will help us to gain a better understanding of Islam and its role in this region. We engage in dialogue with Muslims in ways that challenge our theological understanding, help us gain greater understanding of religious fundamentalism and support solidarity with Muslims on human rights issues and to foster peace in the region. The effort is spearheaded by a group of Jesuits active in the study of Islam and engaged in solidarity actions with Muslims.