April 16, 2011. (Romereports.com) Once a year scholars and theologians gather in Rome's Pontifical
University of St. Thomas Aquinas to discuss new approaches of
interreligious understanding between all faiths.
Professor David Ford from Cambridge University spoke to the group
about the meetings he holds between Jews, Muslims, and Christians to
sit down with each other and study the scriptures of each religion
David F. Ford Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University “When you study in depth, year after year, with Jews and Muslims, then you get a completely different understanding of the richness, the variety, the arguments going on in those traditions and it's far less easy to generalize and say 'I know what Islam is, I know what Judaism is.'”
Professor Ford has said that these kind of interreligious sit downs can help people to better understand their own faith when seen through the eyes of others. It's something that he believes is for the common good and has led to improved relations between the three Abrahamic faiths.
David F. Ford Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University “There's things like the follow through to a 'Common Word' or to 'Dabru Emet', the Jewish statement in relation to Christianity, and a 'Common Word' was the Muslim letter from 138 Muslim leaders to Christians and in the follow up to all of those, there has been the need for Jews and Christians, Christians and Muslims to engage in study of their scriptures together.”
The annual lecture has been named after John Paul II and his efforts to promote inter-faith understanding. The late pope was someone that Professor Ford says greatly improved relations with other religions even though the moves were sometimes seen as controversial, in and outside of the Vatican.
David F. Ford Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University “He also visited a synagogue for the first time here in Rome and that was an astonishing thing to do and of course near the end of his life he visited Israel for that extraordinarily moving event. And he took initiatives towards a range of other religious traditions as well and I think overall he must go down as one of the greatest popes.”
By inviting scholars with a knowledge of various religions, the University of St. Thomas Aquinas hopes to build new bridges between the religious of tomorrow's generation.