New Initiative Promoting Interfaith Understanding Launched in Dublin
A new initiative to promote Interfaith understanding was launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Archbishop of Dublin on Friday (February 2).
Five Marks of Interfaith Understanding offers a practical way for Irish church goers to reach out to their neighbours of all faiths to dispel the mistrust that sometimes leads to the isolation of minority religious groups.
The Five Marks initiative is inspired by Dublin City Interfaith Forum’s Interfaith Charter which was launched with the support of the Lord Mayor of Dublin in December 2016. The latest initiative is the brainchild of Archbishop Michael Jackson, with the support and backing of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum (DCIF) and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál MacDonncha.
In an era when terrorism plagues Europe and the wider world, the initiative aims to build trust among communities, enabling people of faith to come together to prevent the kinds of conditions that lead to alienation of minorities, and the terrible consequences that sometimes result.
It comes at a vital time in Ireland, as the country negotiates increasing social and religious diversity, and as the profile of the Irish population is broadened and enriched, DCIF says. The organisation’s chairperson, Hilary Abrahamson, said that both the charter and the five marks initiative confirm their dedication to harmony in Dublin. The organisation hopes it will be the first of many such initiatives inspired by the principals set out in its Interfaith Charter.
Speaking at the launch, the Lord Mayor said that diversity is one of Dublin’s great strengths. “As Lord Mayor, I am particularly happy to support this important initiative of Archbishop Jackson’s. Inspired by the important work of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, particularly its Interfaith Charter, these Five Marks of Interfaith Understanding set out clear and practical actions to promote trust, understanding and cooperation between the various communities that make up our city. In these troubled times, it is vitally important that we stand together, rather than apart; and in full understanding that our diversity is one of our great strengths in Dublin City, an aspect of our City’s life that I am most proud of as Lord Mayor,” he said.
“I commend Dublin City Interfaith Forum for inspiring this most important work. I hope that it will inspire others in our various faith communities to follow this example, and to set in motion similar practical initiatives to promote greater understanding throughout our diverse city,” he added.
Archbishop Jackson spoke of the importance of the Dublin City Interfaith Charter which he said actively safeguarded the beliefs, customs and practices associated with religious beliefs and connected the dignity and value of each human being with the different communities of belief.
“The Five Marks of Inter Faith Understanding initiative is local. It is designed to be attainable. It is an invitation to the people of the diocese for which I have responsibility to express our faith in simple engagement with others who are Other from us and from whom we, in turn, are Other. It is based in the assertion in Genesis 1.27 that we are, like others, made in the image and likeness of God. The Five Marks initiative is designed to introduce and to engage people in understanding, leading towards advocacy; in moving from fear of change to celebration of diversity. Acceptance is the first step in each of these. Parishes, schools and colleges will actively be encouraged to participate. On completion of these Five Marks of Inter Faith Understanding, the relevant community will receive a physical copy of The Charter to display in the church, entrance hall or meeting room,” the Archbishop explained.
Accepting that the Five Marks of Interfaith Understanding come from the Christian tradition he said there was an invitation to other Faith traditions to create similar Marks that are suitable to their traditions.
The Five Marks are: that short passages from the Old and New Testaments be used in church and printed on the service sheet for five successive Sundays to show willingness to respect and understand World Faiths from a Christian perspective; that during the same period the intercessions and prayers in church services include prayers for peace and understanding across cultures and Faith Traditions; that we seek to meet with people of other World Faiths, while recognizing that we to them are an Other Faith, and plan to create and share a civic and social space as people of faith together; that we organize a social event inviting people of Other Faiths to share faith and food; and that we invite a group from an Other World Faith to visit our place of worship and ask questions and seek to visit their place of worship.
“These are humble beginnings. These are first steps. My hope would be that other Faith traditions explore if something similar is possible for them and that we actively compare notes as things develop, using the resources of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum… We are at the early stages. My hope is that we can develop it together and move forward in Inter Faith understanding in 2018,” the Archbishop concluded.