HEST fosters Christian-Muslim dialogue

The Cluster on Christian-Muslim Relations of HEST holds its first meeting.

HEST (Higher Education for Social Transformation) is a research project promoted by the European Conference of Provincials. It aims to bring together in a collaborative effort professors and researchers from our Jesuit universities and faculties in Europe and Near East, together with social centres. The ultimate objective is to produce research results on seven key themes (Ecology, Economics and Poverty, Dialogue with Islam, Dialogue between Science and Religion, Anthropology, Ignatian Studies and Migration) that contribute to the transformation of our society from the level of everyday life to the highest political level where decisions are taken that affect us all.

One of these seven themes, i. e. the dialogue between Islam and Christianity, is the one that gathered us last September 3 and 4 in Granada to a group of professors and researchers from different Jesuit institutions with experience in this subject. The Faculty of Theology of Granada hosted and coordinated the event.

We met with three primary objectives: (1) to get to know each other personally, (2) to learn what we do in dialogue with Islam, and (3) to design a plan of collaboration for the next three years.

The meeting began on Saturday evening in the convent of the “Comendadoras de Santiago” (which we should thank warmly for taken care of every single detail we needed). We had the first dinner together and took a stroll along the incomparable “Paseo de los Tristes” of Granada, admiring its impressive views of the Alhambra.

On Sunday, we divided the day into two distinct parts. The morning was dedicated to the presentations; we began by introducing all the attendees to the HEST initiative, and we continued with a roundtable presentation of the work that each institution was doing in the topic. After those presentations, we were already able to take the next step: to discern what we could do together. Sunday afternoon was dedicated to this, presenting an open and sincere dialogue in which various possibilities of collaboration emerged. Among them, one seemed to be particularly relevant: the organization of an Academic Workshop in 2018 from which a first joint publication could emerge. The place could be Innsbruck, and the most probable theme: an Ignatian approach to the Dialogue with Islam.

The mass and a cultural night tour, accompanied by “Granada tapas”, served as a perfect ending to the intense Sunday day.

Monday began with another must-see visit: the Alhambra. We dedicate the morning to enjoy this unique historical enclave that distills memories of encounters and misunderstandings between our two cultures. At the end, we enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Convent and marched to the Faculty where we had our last afternoon session. It began with a master lecture on Al-Andalus by Juan Antonio Macias, and continued with a plenary session devoted to the elaboration of a concrete action plan for the coming times.

God willing, this group, will meet again in September or October 2018 in Innsbruck to continue with this exciting task of learning together to dialogue with our Muslim brothers.

March 2018
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