Post 9/11, Vietnamese Catholics promoters of dialogue with Islam

» 09/09/2011 14:42

by J.B. Vu
The 2001attack on the U.S. affected the followers of all religions, with a part of the country marginalizing Muslims. The archdiocese of Saigon initiated moments of interreligious encounter and created a special commission. Vietnamese priest: contact with other religions “makes our faith stronger.”

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The terrorist attack of September 11 and the dramatic images transmitted by television hit – albeit in a different way – the faithful of all religions in Vietnam. For this, the archdiocese of Saigon wanted to organize a group for interreligious dialogue, which to date, it has grown to become a Pastoral Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. The day after the American tragedy, the Vietnamese began discriminating against Muslims, which is why the Catholic leaders created moments of encounter, dialogue and integration.

The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City was the first to begin interfaith dialogue with Muslims: meetings, visits of courtesy, moments of cultural exchange, under the auspices of the Catholic Commission. A project that aims to develop the Church in every diocese in Vietnam, contributing to the growth of the country. So much so that in the pastoral letter of 2010 to the faithful, the People’s Assembly of God, Christian leaders explained that ” dialogue is at the service of God’s salvation, an attempt at mutual understanding and serving the true happiness of man.”

A priest of Saigon explains that “through contact and dialogue with Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, Cao Đài and Bahai’i faithful, people can benefit” in their lives and relationships with others in the community . Although some of the faithful, he adds, fear that interreligious dialogue can deviate from Catholic teaching, on the contrary contact with other religions “is an invitation to make our faith stronger.”

In Vietnam there are two different orders of Muslims, old and new, for a total of 64 thousand faithful throughout the country. In Ho Chi Minh City there are 4,850, divided into 16 communities and led by 69 local representatives. After the tragedy of 11 September 2001, they were victims of ostracism and discrimination by the majority of the population.