NOSTRA AETATE AND SILSILAH DIALOGUE MOVEMENT | November 16, 2015

The 50th Anniversary of the Vatican II Council declaration entitled “Nostra Aetate”, ”a Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions”, reminds us the importance of this document of Vatican II. It is one of the shortest documents of Vatican II Council, but it created a kind of revolution in the Church. From that time on Catholics have been invited to rethink about the relation between Christians and people of other religions in the world. The document was approved and promulgated on October 29, 1965. This document helps the Catholic to rethink their relationship with people of other faiths. The Catholics in the past have given their attention especially to the truth of the faith. “Nostra Aetate” brings us a new dimension. It reminds the Catholics and to all that we have to be in dialogue especially because we belong to the same human family and thus, we have the same dignity and rights, meanwhile we do not compromise our religious identity. Thus, the concept of mission in the Church becomes more dialogical to the point that now the Church reminds to the Catholic that “Dialogue is an integral part of the mission of the Church”. This new reflection is still not well understood by many, even among Catholics. This introduction to this historical event of the 50thAnniversary of “Nostra Aetate” helps us to share how the experience of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement started in Mindanao in contact with the Muslim communities. We express this concept of ”relation-link” with the word “Silsilah” that recalls the spiritual experience of a “link” that helps us to rediscover why and how we are all brothers and sisters. The focus on the spiritual dimension of dialogue made Silsilah Dialogue Movement unique since the beginning. In fact, we always say that Silsilah promotes a “style of life” that is fruit of the spirituality of life-in-dialogue with God, with the Self, with others and with creation.

 

This spirit gives us the strength and the courage to be always active in promoting prayer for peace, to be in solidarity with love, to participate in the peace process and to be in the front line of many initiatives of “Dialogue with Creation”. The increasing secularism in countries identified as Christians and radicalism in some countries identified as Muslims, challenges Silsilah to continue to be in the frontline in its mission. Today we are happy that many find us consistent and relevant as a Movement. This is for us a joy and a responsibility. We know that many are disoriented due to an increasing violence in the world that often is covered by a religion affiliation.

Silsilah remains in the front line to be a sign of hope and to present to all, especially to the youth, the right path of dialogue and peace. After fifty years of the declaration ”Nostra Aetate” many Christians are still hesitant to risk on the path to dialogue, others are not convinced, other are discouraged. This is the time for us to tell to all to move with humility and courage. Do not be afraid to consider all as brothers and sisters. Rich and poor, Muslims and Christians, all of

us have to rebuild friendship. Nostra Aetate referring to Muslim-Christian Dialogue reminds us: “Although in the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, this most sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind, let them make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom. “(NA. 3).

This is the time to rebuild a new society on the foundation of love, respect and solidarity. It is the time when we have to rethink on the common responsibility to ”care for the common home of the earth”. Silsilah has proposed since the beginning up to now, especially in the context of Muslims and Christian in Mindanao, a “struggle” of purifications of the eyes, the mind, the heart, and the memory, and work together with love to move together for the common good. This for us is the secret to achieve the future peace in Mindanao and in the world.

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