What We Do
The Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations has been building mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims since 1997.
How have we gone about this and what have we learned?
Personal encounter is crucial for growing friendly relations, so we attend a variety of religious, educational, social and cultural events hosted by Muslim individuals and organisations.
We also organise interfaith events and conferences - often in partnership with other organisations - where Christians, Muslims and believers from different religions can meet, dialogue and get to know one another.
Knowledge and education are important foundations for building solid relations. To counter ignorance, stereotypes and prejudice about Islam and Muslims, we provide accurate information through talks, seminars, workshops, publications and other media.
To witness to the Christian-Muslim trust and friendship we have come to enjoy, wherever possible, we share platforms with Muslims and collaborate with them on matters of common concern and community benefit.
Our Centre activities include:
- Attending Muslim, interfaith and multi-faith events
- Organising and facilitating interfaith events
- Publishing Bridges newsletter
- Creation, promotion and management of The Sydney Statement: Building Bridges Between Believers from Different Religions, an interfaith charter for Sydney and beyond.
- Maintaining a positive presence for interreligious dialogue and Islam on social media
- Giving talks, seminars, workshops on Islam and interreligious dialogue to various audiences e.g. parishes, schools, teachers, adult education, social justice groups
- Contributing articles and posts to various Columban and other media (The Far East, Columban e-news, AMUST, Catholic Outlook etc)
- Facilitating Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World's Religions)
- Co-facilitating the Abraham Conference with Jewish, Christian and Muslim organisations
- Giving lectures on Islam and Interreligious Dialogue at tertiary institutes
- Contributing to academic conferences and journals
- Publishing occasional resources on Islam and Interreligious Dialogue e.g. The Golden Rule Poster, Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.
- Participating in interfaith organisations e.g. Religions for Peace, National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews
Our primary motivation for this apostolate is that “interreligious dialogue is an integral element of the Church's evangelizing mission” (DP,38, cf RM, 55). We are practising and promoting the teaching of the Catholic Church on interreligious dialogue. This teaching has developed especially since Vatican II, but often remains “a hidden treasure” (Mt 13:44). We uncover this treasure in word and deed for the local Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant, by sharing it through talks, seminars and workshops and by modelling it in practice in our relationships with individuals and organisations from other religions, especially Muslims.
Accordingly, we promote:
- the dialogue of life
- the dialogue of deeds
- the dialogue of theological exchange
- and the dialogue of religious experience
(cf Dialogue & Mission, # 28-35)
By attending Muslim and interfaith events, we are a presence of the Catholic Church, the sacrament and sign of Jesus Christ and of the unity of all humankind. Countering negative attitudes and prejudices about the church that others may have, often derived from past church teaching and practices, we witness to a more positive, respectful, welcoming and friendly image of the church in accord with the contemporary understanding of mission.
By providing accurate information about Islam and Muslims in talks and publications, we are helping to overcome negative prejudices and stereotypes. In doing so, we are contributing to the common good by fostering social cohesion in multicultural, multi-faith Australia.
We encourage the link between IRD [Inter Relegious Dialogue] and JPIC, that solutions to local and global social issues are best resolved when we combine to use all our ideas and values to find solutions that serve the common good of society and planetary wellbeing.
With our Centre located in Blacktown since 2017, we contribute especially to the Diocese of Parramatta, co-operating with diocesan agencies (Interfaith Commission, Education, Catholic Youth Parramatta etc). We hope to facilitate Christian-Muslim relations at grassroots level, between priests and imams and between parish and mosque congregations.
By participating in interfaith and multi-faith organizations, we continue to learn and practice the skills and theory of interreligious dialogue and contribute what we have learned in our own Centre’s activities.
By sharing positive stories and articles about Christian-Muslim relations and interreligious dialogue - including reports on our own CCCMR activities and events - across various media platforms, we inform, educate, inspire and promote Christian-Muslim relations and interreligious dialogue to Christians, Muslims, believers from other religions and to all people of good will in society.