Bishop Vincent Long’s speech at iftar dinner

Bishop Vincent Long’s speech at iftar dinner, co-hosted by Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations and Parramatta Diocese

Participants at the Interfaith Iftar dinner for religious leaders. Photo: Facebook/Diocese of Parramatta

Participants at the Interfaith Iftar dinner for religious leaders. Photo: Facebook/Diocese of Parramatta

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

With Fr Patrick McInerney, the Director of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Dialogue, I welcome you all as we gather for this iftar dinner. We are honoured by your presence and enriched by your friendship. Together, we Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Baha’is, and others can be a stronger force for the common good and the upbuilding of our society and our world.

Western Sydney is the epicentre of an ethnically diverse, multicultural and multifaith Australia. My predecessors recognised the importance of interfaith dialogue and I have continued to build on their legacy. We are blessed to host the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations and are committed to leveraging this great opportunity. Indeed, ecumenical and interfaith partnership is vital to our mission as we seek to be the Church that walks with fellow pilgrims on the journey towards the fulness of life and love. We stand in celebration of our common humanity and dedication to peace and justice for all. We are bound to each other in universal kinship through God, the source of our being and wellbeing.

Pope Francis has been tirelessly promoting Christian-Muslim relations, just as his namesake St Francis of Assisi broke new grounds with the Muslim world 800 years ago. His commitment on the world stage is a recognition of the desperate need for restoration of the human spirit afflicted by division and violence. I believe that following the lead of Pope Francis, we can forge stronger ties of human fraternity and foster pathways across the political and religious divide to create a more inclusive, harmonious, resilient and cohesive Australia.

And in this month of reflection, we cannot forget the millions of lives that have been displaced by conflict and struggle, across the world. In the light of recent events in Ukraine we must continue working together to eliminate hatred and discrimination. This sacred time reminds us of our common obligations to uphold the dignity of every human being, to make peace, to nurture goodwill and to facilitate unity in the face of economic and social inequality, cultural polarisation and fragmentation. We can be the places that refuse to be tribal, that create spaces of welcome, encounter and solidarity.

In these troubled times, when evil forces seek to divide us on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity or religion, may Muslims, Christians, people of all faiths, and all people of good will remain united in heart and mind and resolve. May our faith bind us in human solidarity, hope drive out fear, and love overcome hatred.

Ramadan Kareem!

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