Sankt Augustin, Feb. 24, 2010
Ed.: Christian W. Troll SJ, Helmut Reifeld, C.T.R. Hewer (Ed.); Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V., ISBN 978-3-941904-24-8
In this book the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung publishes the results of a conference on the “Common Word” dialogue. Therewith the KAS pursues two purposes: firstly, to bring together multipliers from Sub-Saharan Africa as well as South and Southeast Asia who so far have not played a prominent role in the “Common Word” process. In addition, the KAS wants to give them the opportunity to establish new networks. Secondly, the KAS aims at directing the focus on how a “Common Word” can lead to a “Common Good” – that is to say how it affects the political, economic and social common good.
On invitation of the KAS, a group of 18 leading representatives of the current dialogue between Christians and Muslims gathered from 1 to 4 October 2009 in Cadenabbia in Italy. The dialogue has attracted attention worldwide with its focus on what has become known as “A Common Word”. The dialogue started out as an open letter by 138 Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict XVI, from 13 October 2007. Many Christians saw this letter as an invitation to an open, fair and respectful dialogue with Muslims. Conferences in 2008 in London, at Yale University and the University of Cambridge followed, exploring possibilities for joint Christian-Muslim positions, to determine steps towards a new and long-term process of dialogue. This was viewed as an opportunity to establish a completely different level of dialogue, particularly in the Vatican – where the newly founded Catholic-Muslim Forum met in November 2008 for the first time – as well as in broader Catholic Church circles where dialogue efforts had been underway for some time.
The Cadenabbia gathering had two principal purposes. It aimed on the one hand to bring together prominent multipliers from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Until then these representatives had not played a prominent role in a dialogue process mostly geared toward the Arab world and Turkey. It also gave representatives the opportunity to establish completely new networks. On the other hand, the goal was not to primarily focus on theological issues but rather on the political consequences for human rights and in particular for religious freedom. An important aspect of this reflection was how it affects the joint understanding of human dignity, and how building on a Common Word can lead to a Common Good – that is to say how it affects the political, economic and social common good.
As at Yale, the Cadenabbia discussions ended with an agreement on a kind of closing statement. The importance of the statement lies not primarily with what its specific content but that all participants jointly agreed on, signed and supported its tenets. The Message from Cadenabbia was soon distributed in the countries of Muslim participants, especially among younger people.
In order to strengthen the message’s impact, all the texts under discussion in Cadenabbia, are now available in print form. Under the title “We Have Justice in Common,” one can read the final declaration, along with eight position papers by participants from India, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria and Sudan as well as commentaries by other participants in the discussion. This publication will likely affect the ongoing development of the Common Word process.