Cardinal Chow: Taoists and Christians can join hands to build harmonious society

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Cardinal Chow: Taoists and Christians can join hands to build harmonious societyAs a conference on Christianity and Taoism gets underway in Hong Kong, Cardinal Stephen Chow and Msgr. Indunil Kodithuwakku discuss the importance of dialogue between these two ancient religious traditions.

“Cultivating a Harmonious Society through Interreligious Dialogue”.

That’s the theme of a conference now underway in Hong Kong, bringing together Christians and Taoists for three days of reflection and discussions.

The conference – jointly organised by the Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue and Hong Kong’s Catholic Diocese and Taoist Association – has gathered together scholars and experts from across Asia, as well as some European countries.

As the first day of the conference drew to a close, Cardinal Stephen Chow, the Bishop of Hong Kong, and Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, Secretary of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke to Devin Watkins about the points of contact between Christianity and Taoism.

A shared spirit of service

The purpose of the conference, said Cardinal Chow, is to “demonstrate how religions can join hands to become constructive partners for building our society.”

“The vision of the Taoist religion,” the Cardinal noted, “is to foster a movement of the world toward peace and unity, where humanity and the Way – we would say the ‘Logos’ – are connected.”

The hope, he added, is that recognition of this shared spirit of service will help “the value and meaning of religion [to be] better appreciated in China.”

Matteo Ricci’s model for dialogue

The Bishop of Hong Kong said Christianity and Taoism “share the values of mercy, simplicity, and not striving for worldly achievements.”

He emphasised the importance of openness towards other cultures and religions, pointing out that “our Catholic Church accepts that they too are blessed – though to different degrees – with divine revelation for the understanding of life and spirit of living.”

As an example of someone who exemplified this approach, Cardinal Chow offered the model of Fr. Matteo Ricci, a 16th-century Jesuit missionary famous for his knowledge of Chinese language and culture.

Fr. Ricci, he said, was “the role model for dialoguing between religion and culture, integrating the spiritualities of the Confucians, Buddhists, and Taoists with our Catholic faith and spirituality.”

“This,” Cardinal Chow noted, “has won much praise and respect from the Chinese people and the Chinese government.”

The spiritual power of dialogue

Monsignor Kodithuwakku, meanwhile, stressed the importance moments of dialogue in today’s fractious world.

“As we all know,” he said, “we live in a very difficult time. There is a lack of hope, frustration.”

“Meetings like this, therefore, communicate a symbolic message to the world, that dialogue is possible and we can sit together and discuss, work together and walk together.”

For this reason, Msgr. Kodithuwakku stressed, the Christian-Taoist conference now underway has the potential to “contribute not only to Hong Kong, but also to the wider world.”

The Sri Lankan priest also stressed the spiritual value of this kind of exchange.

“In this kind of dialogue,” he said, “we enter into the mystery of God. Listening to the other can help us to understand how God has also revealed Himself to them … we encounter the sacred mystery of the other.”

Joseph Tulloch and Devin Watkins
Source: vaticannews.va/en